Fashion Wars: Brighton Vs London

Published On March 12, 2014 | By Jo Sutherland | Brighton Style, Theatre & Arts Features

London Fashion Week has been and gone and as designers and stylists up and down the country set the fashion trends for the latter half of 2014, us guys at thought it prudent to interview a few fashion folk about their take on current styles in order to figure out how our beloved city’s fashion scene differs from the capital’s… And what with Brighton Fashion Week on the way in June (the Summer’s nearly here, gang!), we thought we’d share a few hints and tips from the experts for any budding fashionistas out there!

So what buzz words do our panel of dreamy designers use to describe Brighton’s fashion scene? Here goes…

“Artistic”, “Bohemian”, “Creative”, “Eccentric”, “Eclectic, “Experimental”
“Festive”, “Free”, “Individual”, “Vibrant”, “Vintage”, “Vintage”

Gabrielle designer twoThe Emperor’s Old Clothes, a Brighton based clothing brand, believe “Brighton is full of creatives with a real eye for vintage tailoring, individual taste & flair”. Brighton born & bred designerGabrielle Vary states that “there is a real sense of anything goes” here. In agreement, Clare and Mary Burgess, sisters and co-founders of Brighton based label,, say that “Brighton has an anything goes vibe and creative feel” and Sara Rhys, a metalsmith, applied artist and jewellery designer from Hove, believes that “Brighton’s such a tolerant place where it’s really possible to be and wear whatever you fancy.” …And it’s not just the Brightonians that are biggin’ up our city – London stylist, Stephen Kelly notes that Brighton is home to a “real artistic melting pot” thanks to an abundance of creative types.

London, on the other hand, has been described with the following adjectives:

“Ahead”, “Bold”, “Cool”, “Diverse”, “Forward-thinking”, “Fun”
“Glitzy”, “Hipster”, “Influential”, “International”, “Modern”, “Urban”

Stephen-Kelly-gqKelly states that “London is at the forefront of ideas and creativity across the Globe” and that the capital’s “streets have the most diverse styles, trends and individuality of anywhere across the world”. Nodding his head in agreement is Senior Designer and denim extraordinaire from DC Shoes, Niklas Vila Karpe. Jet-setting around the globe as part of his job (lucky thing!), Vila Karpe knows enough to know that his city’s mix of “old and new, fast trends and staple brands” is what keeps London ahead of the game. And it seems Brighton agrees. Founder and director of Vagabond Couture, Karen Vagabond concurs and states that the capital’s “glitzy, urban, cool” trends are thanks to “a great mix of cultures/sub cultures”Allium B states that “London is one of the international fashion capitals of the world.”

So who does it better: Brighton or London? “London, oh please…” declares Niklas Vila Karpe, “…more brands, more movement, more excitement!”, whereas argues that Brighton is the gold medallist when it comes to “creativity, character and charm”. Perhaps the less biased of the bunch is Allium B who believe both Cities deserve equal praise for their individual style but notes that “London does high end designer brilliantly, whereas Brighton is great for individual style.”

ElizaWith Brighton Fashion Week mere months away, how can wannabe fashion designers get their fashionable feet on the first rung of the ladder? Well, in terms of inspiration, the general consensus is look around! isn’t alone in believing that “inspiration is everywhere” and Gabrielle Vary, states that for her, “nature plays a big part in designing”. Vary loves that “in Brighton you can be on the South Downs one minute, in the middle of nowhere in complete isolation, and then be in a vibrant and busy city the next…” So since us lot are lucky enough to live by the coast, there’s ample ways of getting the creative juices flowing – soak in the buzz of the city and the serenity of the beach for a start. Likewise, Sara Rhys often gets inspiration from the world around her and when designing jewellery for her own label,, she looks out for the “the little, often overlooked details in life”. Encapsulating all these ideas is Allium B who offers the following advice to budding designers: “Look at the people around you and at nature and the changing seasons – your next great idea can come from anywhere – be an observer!”

For those keen to get out into the world of fashion, Londoner Stephen Kelly and Brightonian Karen Graves, both recent attendees of London Fashion Week, suggest you should take networking seriously. In my book, there’s nothing like a bit of schmoozing to get yourself noticed… and, on that note, I went to London Fashion Week and got to meet palmer//harding who gave us the scoop on this year’s Autumn / Winter fashion trends; here they are telling us about it…

palmer//harding are one example of a successful fashion brand and our panel of experts think highly of their style, including Gabrielle Vary who loves “the idea of a twist on a classic”Allium B who state the dreamy duo “have a great directional twist on a what can be perceived as a conventional classic garment”Stephen Kelly who thinks palmer//harding’s simple yet clever concept “… is a great nucleus for a brand”, and Karen Graves who loves “the innovative treatment” and states that “it’s a great makeover of a tired and type cast garment into something new, exciting and ultimately wearable.”

So if you want to show off your creations on a catwalk or as part of exhibition, what better place to start than June’s Brighton Fashion Week? Details can be found here: and look out for more on We Love Brighton nearer the time!

Image 1: Fashion by Gabrielle Vary
Image 2:  Stylist Stephen Kelly from
Image 3: Fashion by Allium B

About The Writer

By day, Jo is a senior public relations professional. By night, she’s a writer. Jo initially trained as an actor at East 15 but she discovered her inner-academic five years later when she decided to study a BA in Arts Management. Jo graduated with a First and was subsequently lucky enough to secure a scholarship for a Master’s Degree in Creative & Critical Writing at Sussex University. This enabled her to do three things; 1) improve her writing skills, 2) embrace student life again / regress mentally, 3) move to Brighton! The move was only supposed to be “temporary” but she fell in love with the city. Having spent four years working in broadcast and digital PR, Jo now works for Magenta, a Brighton-based PR agency – and she began writing for as soon as she moved to the coast. Jo has a strong background in theatre, acting and creative writing. As an aspiring playwright, her primary interest lies in new writing theatre and Jo has spent the last five years exploring the London and Sussex theatre scene. And - in her spare time - she’s writing a sitcom.