One of the most joyous things about fashion is that it demonstrates the beauty and the power of expression.And the connections and ties it builds in our lives. This is especially true with brands like Roberta London. From a very young age, Roberta London’s founder, Roberta Rocha, was inspired by her best friend’s mother (a seamstress) and the women in her family’s style. Her sources for inspiration have naturally expanded towards wilderness and nature. However, a piece of everything she loves can clearly be found in every item of her collection. As such, when we wear an item made by a small business, we also wear their history and a piece of everything they love. Roberta Rocha has kindly taken the time to speak to The Clothing Lounge.
When and where did you first begin?It all began in Brazil, when I was 7 years old. I had always been fascinated by beauty, art, creation and unusual things. I loved playing with my dolls, particularly Barbie’s, but I didn't like the princess outfits that they were dressed in. My family’s neighbour was a seamstress and her daughter was my best friend at the time. When I went to play at her house, part of my time was spent watching her mother sewing. She noticed my curiosity, so she started giving me fabric swatches. I first started by creating new outfits for my dolls. I also liked trying out the clothes belonging to my mum, grandmother, great-grandmother and friends. Fashion was my passion.
When I was a teenager I would create patterns, sew and design new clothes to dress up in; in the same way that I borrowed old clothes from my 95 year-old great-grandmother. I loved and still love vintage clothes. At the age of 15, I had a job as an assistant for a fashion designer. It was there that I realised I had a great love for fashion design and that I would pursue it as a career.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in everything. Inspiration for art and design is unlimited, but at the same time very personal. Traveling and exploring new cultures, how people dress in different countries, what influences them, the fabrics and mix of colours; all of these things have become my inspiration.
I am also greatly influenced by the history of fashion. The last century of shapes and styles has been a great source of inspiration when the time comes to create a new collection.
How do you incorporate your passion for animal prints into your designs?
Animal prints are striking and ever present in the fashion world, whether as accessories or as an essential piece. They never really go out of style.
Roberta London is a sustainable brand, and one of the main values we incorporate is the non-use of animal skin. This is one of the key elements that make up our brand. Our collection stands by luxury and use of the best faux-fur on the market, without cost to the planet or to the beloved animals we are so inspired by. The faux-fur we use has often been confused with real animal skin, and this is a testament to the high quality imitation fabrics we use. We aim to offer our customers at least one staple animal print in every collection. We love it, and hope our customers do too.
How do you want people to feel when wearing Roberta London?
We want our customers to feel comfortable, cosy, elegant, special and to know that they are wearing clothes designed personally and exclusively for them. Additionally, we want to make sure that they are enjoying a collection that was produced sustainably with conscious materials and eco-friendly finishes.
What makes Roberta London a sustainable slow-fashion brand?
Roberta London is entirely cruelty free and we prioritise sustainable production, which is why we use organic materials that have minimal environmental impact. Our collection is produced on a small scale in order to provide our customers with unique pieces that are exclusively designed by us. We are passionate about promoting luxury without cost to the planet. Roberta London’s timeless designs are made to be long lasting quality pieces that endure for many years to come. 85% of all our material is recyclable and reusable, and we focus on creating as little waste as possible.
Which parts of the creative process do you enjoy the most, and the least?
I usually enjoy the entire creative process. My favourite part is seeing the drawings and sketches on the design sheet come to life. Choosing fabrics and prints is also fun too. However, the creative process can also be challenging since it is imperative to find the sources that will provide the right materials, high quality production and quality control. I am a perfectionist so the journey to the final product can be quite tiring. It’s important to me that my collection be up to the highest possible standard.
All brand-related choices are approved by me and that decision-making comes with a lot of responsibility. I persist until I get what I want, but with deadlines it can be quite stressful.
What are your favourite pieces from your recent collection?
I love the entire collection, but the Jaguar jacket, Jaguar Coat and the (sold out) Pandora jacket are my favourites.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given as a small business?
I believe that the best advice I have been given, especially during this time of uncertainty and insecurity due to the pandemic, is that we need to be persistent and believe the best days are yet to come.
It has not been easy for small businesses like mine, and many are having to find alternatives to survive and keep their trade going. I think that persistence, faith and focus helps us get through all the turbulence. I would also advise investing in social media platforms to expand or maintain the business, as this can be very lucrative. Retail is one of the most affected industries, and this has really limited the abilities of the high street. The best way to expand a small business in this current climate is to make connections and network on the internet.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
My routine changed drastically early last year due to the pandemic. But I don’t think I’m on my own when I say this. I typically try to maintain a routine. In the morning I take my son to school. He has special needs so the school is still open to him. When I get home I check my emails and put them in priority order. At night I make a list of the things I have to do the next day. This gives a sense of motivation and direction to the structure of my day. In the afternoon, I try to take some time for myself. I listen to an audio book, read about something of interest, such as fashion or psychology. I also try to do something that will brighten my mood and contribute to my wellness, such as designing pieces for my upcoming collections, mind-mapping, or simply meditating.
In the middle of the afternoon, I pick my son up from school. We spend the next hour together, just the two of us. Towards the end of the afternoon I focus on Roberta London, from planning content for social media and checking on the production and orders. Early in the evening, my husband, son and I have dinner together. After that, it is bedtime for my little one. Afterwards, my husband and I watch a series or a film, read, or we just take time to relax. I usually fall asleep at 1 am and wake up at 7:30 am.
What are you working on next?
I am working on so many exciting things for the next collection. In addition to a new range of coats in luxury eco-fur, organic cotton and silk clothing will be a new permanent fixture of my collections. We also plan to launch Roberta London homeware very soon. I am so pleased with the path my brand is taking and I hope our customers will enjoy this new phase too.
Shop the collections here: ROBERTA LONDON
And check the official instagram: @ROBERTALONDONOFFICIAL