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project was developing I applied to a master’s degree at Central Saint Martins college here in London—a masters by project. During these fascinating two years, I developed a wearable collection of jewellery and accessories. After graduation I opened a London pop-up for three months to test this work in the real world. I was in the store as a shop assistant to really experience all the reactions. Leila was the first person who walked into the store. The pop-up was very successful, and I wanted to push forward. But I needed a partner in crime for the commercial side. I asked Leila to join forces and we started working together.


We relaunched the brand in November 2017 as SO-LE Studio, which is my name, but also the combination of our two names, Sole and Leila.


On a practical level, how do you get access to the discarded leather? S: I go to Italy to visit brands, stockists, and other places where I find leftovers. I hand pick them and it is from the material I get a lot of inspiration. L: This process forces us to start with material, whereas other brands do the design and then choose material. There are two advantages of this. Firstly, everything is almost limited edition. Secondly, going through this process has forced us to think about what this business is about. Having sustainability as a pillar of it is really important.


PHOTOGRAPHY: ANTONIO SANSICA, COURTESY OF SO-LE STUDIO


HAVING SUSTAINABILIT Y AS A PILLAR OF [OUR BUSINESS ] IS REALLY IMPORTANT


You’ve mentioned that the materials give you inspiration. Where else? S: One is optical and kinetic art. Our pieces create the illusion of movement and of changing colour. Another is architecture as it is part of my background and I’m fascinated with structural elements. I also get a lot of inspiration from construction, and often visit construction stores—my favourite type of store. I also look back at the Elizabethan age, as there were interesting costumes at the time that made women feel protected and regal. But they were rigid and tight, and restricted the women… so though I’ve kept those elements of protection and projecting your inner strength, the pieces are really light, soft and pleasant to have on.


Sole, given your surname is synonymous with luxury fashion, is it intimidating when you are trying to start your own business? S: I think it’s a double-edged sword. I am grateful for being born in a family with this great heritage. It educated me to appreciate craftsmanship, the value of work, and to recognise beauty [and] it’s a help in terms of finding expertise and contacts.


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