Leah launches fashion brand - and she's already creating custom pieces to be worn on stage

Leah Robinson, of Leah Sophie Designs
Leah Robinson, of Leah Sophie Designs -Credit:Leah Robinson

A budding Teesside designer, who has helped to style Holly Willoughby, has launched her first brand - and she is already creating custom pieces to be worn on stage.

Leah Robinson, from Ingleby Barwick, has created Leah Sophie Designs - a brand focused on making clothing from sustainable fabrics.

The 22-year-old said: "I was always into art and textiles, but when it came to leaving school and choosing A levels they really didn’t want me to go down the fashion route, I think because it’s such a threatening industry and we don’t have that many jobs in fashion in the North East."

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But undeterred, Leah chose to study textiles at Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form in Darlington. "Sixth form was where I really got into fashion design," she said.

"The teachers were absolute incredible and taught me all the basics when it came to sewing and using photoshop. They encouraged me to do work experience with local costume designers and gave me the confidence to do fashion design at uni."

Leah added: "I started studying at the University of Salford in 2020, which was the most challenging but rewarding experience I’ve ever had. It was a very intense course with a very hectic work load and the lectures treat us how they believe that employers would in the fashion industry.

"It was quite a hard adjustment at first going from an environment where at college all of the teachers were encouraging and didn’t really give that much constructive criticism to uni, where if the teacher didn’t like your work they would just tell you to get rid of it and start again.

"The main thing that I took away from uni was you can do anything that you put your mind too. There was times that I thought I was never going to finish a project or I thought I was going to fail but I always tried my best and did better than I thought I was going to do."

Leah Robinson, of Leah Sophie Designs
Leah Robinson, of Leah Sophie Designs -Credit:Leah Robinson

During the course, Leah landed her first job in fashion - a styling internship with Danielle Whiteman, who has styled for the likes of Holly Willoughby and Tom Grenham.

"It was only a couple days work experience, but it gave me an insight into a part of the fashion industry I didn’t know much about," she said. "It also taught me that it’s not unattainable to be working in that industry if you’re willing to put yourself out there.

"I got the job by sending her a DM on Instagram, then the next week I was in Harrods with her buying jewellery for Holly to wear on TV."

Leah then went on to work with swimwear designer Hannah Hopkins. "She taught me everything when it comes to running your own brand," she said. "She’s the one who inspired me to start my own."

After university and a brief stint working at Disney World in Florida, Leah then decided to take the plunge and launch her own brand. "I do a lot of upcycled pieces," said Leah, who has been getting help from the Princes Trust.

"I like to find old items in charity shops and make them into something new. I'm also currently working on swimwear made Econyl, which is a nylon alternative made from waste products.

And despite being in the "very early days", Leah has already been working on custom outfits. "I’m currently working on a piece for Jess Baker, who is a guitar player for Lauran Hibberd," she said. "They’re playing the Riverside Stadium in June - opening for James Arthur - so I reached out to ask if she’d like to wear one of my pieces."

Leah concluded, "I hope to continue to grow my brand in the future. I have so many ideas on how I want to grow and expand my business."

Leah Sophie Designs is available on Shopify, which is linked on the brand's Instagram account (@leahsophie_designs).