Elissa Grainger from Elissa Poppy and Claire Yurika Davis from HANGER are the two winners of the competition [Photo: ASOS]
Over 600 emerging labels applied to ASOS’ first Fashion Discovery competition. A panel of esteemed judges including renowned industry figures such as Sharmadean Reid and Julia Sarr-Jamois along with ASOS’ own CEO whittled them down to just 10.
Two latex fanatics were chosen as the winners of the initiative: lingerie brand Elissa Poppy and sci-fi womenswear label HANGER. They will be sold on ASOS worldwide as well as receiving £50,000 and a year’s worth of mentoring from the company.
We caught up with Elissa Grainger and Claire Yurika Davis - the talents behind the brands - to find out exactly what’s in store.
Elissa Grainger is tearing up the lingerie rulebook, designing underwear that fuses latex, lace and luxury in a bid to make women feel empowered. After building up an impressive Instagram following (12k and counting), the De Montfort graduate launched Elissa Poppy. Meant to be seen, her handcrafted lingerie takes inspiration from everything the world has to offer starting with pop art, punk culture and detailing seen only in haute couture.
Why did you decide to focus on the combination of latex and lace?
At university, I was drawn to latex due to its background and the sometimes controversial associations that surround it. I started to experiment with it: laser cutting, printing, moulding and weaving. My main source of inspiration is finding objects for topics which contradict each other but finding a way of bringing the two different aspects together and making them work. So I took latex and thought of its opposite which turned out to be lace. My next challenge was combining the two which finally resulted in me creating a new material, Latex Lace. It just seemed to work from there.
Who is the Elissa Poppy woman?
She’s 20-something, head over heels with fashion and unique statement pieces, confident and knows what she wants. Whether to reflect underwear as outerwear during the day or to dress up for someone very special, she’s empowered by the lingerie she wears. She buys Elissa Poppy to stand out from the crowd and to make an entrance that will be remembered. I love the quote: “You can see my bra? Good, it was expensive.” It sums her up perfectly!
How does it feel to have won ASOS’ first Fashion Discovery competition?
It’s so exciting to have been given such an amazing opportunity. It makes me very positive about the future of my brand. I can’t wait to see what the next year will bring. To have the support of such influential brands and platforms like ASOS, i-D magazine and the British Fashion Council is such a confidence boost and has just upped the motivation I have to make the brand a long term success.
What do you hope for the brand in the next few years?
I would love to see Elissa Poppy become an established company within the market, identifiable to customers the world over. To hold catwalks and events at London Fashion Week. To spread the brand’s message with ready-to-wear and couture collections. To be stocked in well-known luxury boutiques such as Coco de Mer, Liberty’s and Selfridges. Creating an Elissa Poppy buzz is key!
Established in 2013 by London-born designer Claire Yurika Davis, HANGER mixes a love of British and Japanese culture with a whole lot of latex. Turning the skintight material into something completely wearable, Claire also places a great emphasis on sustainability. H.STUDIO, a line of wardrobe staples that are made-to-order in HANGER’s East London studio minus the heavy retail mark-ups, is a rejection of the fast fashion concept, already transforming the label into a mini powerhouse.
What’s the story behind HANGER?
I started HANGER in 2013. I’d actually been looking for work within an existing brand in the months before and came to realise no one would hire me as I didn’t have enough years of industry experience. I had always wanted to have my own label so thought that there was no better time for me to give it a go. I then approached the Prince’s Trust and East London Small Business Centre, and they gave me the help and mentoring to get started.
What is it about latex that inspires you?
I began working with latex back in university. I just loved the quality of it as a material. It can be fluid and strong yet fragile at the same time. I also wanted to work with it in order to make pieces which weren’t typically fetish or overtly sexual - to show people that it can be simple and wearable.
With your focus on sustainability, do you think the fashion industry has a responsibility to be more ethical?
Most definitely. It’s one of the biggest industries in the entire world and consumers’ obsession with fast fashion at as low a price as possible is sustaining how companies manufacture and source in unethical and dangerous ways. I would love for the industry to become more ethical though I feel it will only happen with enforced legislation along with consumers demanding to know how their clothes are made. It may take a little time but awareness is improving slowly but steadily.
What’s the plan for HANGER in the next few years?
It’s unreal [to have won ASOS’ competition]. It’s completely uplifting to feel that I can actually make progress now and build the business I’ve always dreamed of! I’m not rushing to create an empire, I just want to build steadily and at my own pace. In the next few years, I’m hoping to have put a nice little team together and to be making consistently great clothes. That’s pretty much it!