Building a Body-Positive Empire: A Conversation with Label Fashion Show

Earlier this week the Owl Eyes Informer sat down with Caitlin Krause, co-director of Label, to talk about their brand, the fashion show this spring and the importance of representation within the busy landscape of the St Andrews fashion season.

OE: My read of Label is that it’s a brand that celebrates difference, inclusivity and the beauty of all kinds of bodies and minds. What’s your elevator pitch of what Label is all about as a brand?

CK: Label at its core is all about body positivity regardless of race, gender or age. Our goal is to make people feel beautiful in the bodies that they have and one way we do that is through our fashion show. We also want to give our models the support they need and let them showcase both their beauty and their talents, as well as their stories through our magazine. Label has now become a full-fledged company. Jo Boon, the founder, (who graduated last year) has expanded the company to Manchester and London as well as St Andrews.

The Manchester and London branches mainly host performance art pieces, art exhibitions and theatre pieces, and the magazine is run out of London. In St Andrews what we mainly focus on is fashion, and promoting body positivity inside the community and out.

OE: What is the theme for Label’s show this year?

CK: The theme is ‘Deconstructed Fairytales.’ We’re playing with tropes like the ‘damsel in distress,’ how men typically have to have these really masculine qualities to be judged as perfect, that the villain is always someone who looks different from everybody else but never in a good way.

OE: So kind of subverting typical narratives.

CK: Exactly!

OE: Do you have any particular inspirations behind the show’s aesthetic? What are some of the things that you’re drawing from?

CK: We have a Pinterest board! (Laughs.) We do have some traditional fairy tale references in the show—we have some wedding dresses coming in, so some of it does play on traditional fantasy narratives. We’re specifically focusing on light and dark elements, and the music is going to reflect this. The light aspect is going to be represented by more airy, breezy garments, and then we have some very conceptual, structured pieces. One designer in particular is making a full look out of deconstructed materials. The entire show is going to move from light to dark, intermission, and then dark to light. The venue itself was also kind of an inspiration.

OE: The show is going to be at Rufflets Hotel, right?

CK: Yes. We just did a photoshoot there, which should come out right after spring break. It was really nice because we did it in the gardens, but obviously it’s winter so while there is a little greenery, the dead vines and plants look really cool with the whole aesthetic of the shoot. Nature is also a big theme of this year’s show.

OE: So what is the music for the show going to be like?

CK: Jerome, known as Liquid Alloy, who was a model last year agreed to be our DJ for this year. We still need to sit down with him and finalise a mix but he’s going to do all of the compositions, mixing and editing to create a soundscape for the show.

OE: This is Label’s third year running: are there any major changes to the organisation of the show?

CK: I’ll be honest, I didn’t see Label’s show the first year—I was a fresher, wildly not in-the-know. I would say that it’s become more professional. It did start out where everyone was learning the ropes but over time you learn how to make better business connections, get more organised. I would definitely say that you’re getting a more elevated brand this year. Our plan is to also make it a more traditional fashion show, in terms of having seated arrangements like you’d see at Fashion Week, but still keeping standard St Andrews fashion show elements like the intermission and a really nice after-party.

There’s also been a nice change in figuring out choreography and amassing a nicer list of designers, because as the years go on designers are sticking with us because they know us and know we’ll give them a good return on their investment. We’re seeing a bigger, more varied pool than we originally had. We’re really developing more of a name for ourselves, which is great.

OE: So, there is something I feel I need to address. Obviously there are so many fashion shows in St Andrews.

CK: (Laughs) Oh my gosh, yes.

OE: What would you say to someone who is wondering, “Why another one?”

CK: I think what you don’t see a lot is a true body-positive aspect, and that’s what I think Label can give you. It’s celebrating being you in your body: we’re not asking you to change it, or modify yourself at all. It’s your body, you’re happy in it and we want to showcase that happiness and that comfortability with others, in hopes of inspiring them. I think what it comes down to is that it’s great inspiration for others like, “Oh, they can do it, I can do something like that.” If we can just get one person to see the beauty in someone else and say, “Oh, I like that, I can be beautiful like that!”, it makes beauty a more obtainable concept.

OE: Are you doing any promotional events in the months before the show?

CK: Not anything specific, but there will be some small fundraising events. We just did a puppy photo shoot in partnership with the Guide Dog Society; it was adorable. We had our launch party in November, so that was the big thing launching the theme and introducing the models. Leading up to the show it’ll be kind of quiet on the event side because, as you know, there’s a lot of focus going into preparing for the show.

OE: Down to the logistics. When and where is the show?

CK: The show is the 13th of April—it’s a Friday, so a lucky day (laughs)—at the Rufflets Hotel in their Garden Suite. We have access to their maze of gardens as well, which is really fun. Doors open at 19:00, and close at 20:15 with the show starting at 20:30. The show itself is going to be about an hour, an hour and a half, and then there will be an after-party going until 01:00.

OE: And tickets sales?

CK: Tickets go on sale March 4th for £32.

OE: So what are Label’s plans for next year and the future in general?

CK: Label itself is actually looking to become—because it’s a company, we’re trying to expand more. We do have a body-positive clothing line that Jo Boon is working on, and the magazine is going to take more of a forefront as well because we get a lot of engagement with it. In terms of the fashion show, we actually will not be having it in St Andrews next year: it’s moving down to London. We feel that there’s more interest in London in terms of the show—most of our designers are based down there and want to be involved in the future so we think it’s a good business move to do so. We do make decent money in St Andrews, but to grow the company, it would help to be centred in a more metropolitan area.

OE: Makes complete sense. What about the magazine?

CK: Writing will still happen here and we’ll probably do some art exhibitions, but most of the fashion stuff will all sit in London.

OE: Is there anything else you want to mention about Label?

CK: Yeah! We actually partnered with a charity this year. Some returns obviously do go back into Label because it is a company but much of it is going to Room to Read. It’s an international charity but they just opened their St Andrews chapter last semester—we were thinking smaller fashion show, smaller charity. Basically what they do is build libraries and give books and education to children in underprivileged situations. It’s so sweet. One girl who runs the chapter here, Jolie, is Vietnamese so they’ve chosen Vietnam as the country where they’re building a library. At the show, coat check fees will go to Room to Read and there will also be a raffle.

OE: Fantastic! Looking forward to the show in April and good luck with everything.

CK: Thank you!

To keep up with Label Fashion Show, check out their Facebook page.

For reads on body-positivity, art, mental health and more, take a look at Label’s magazine.

To learn more about Room to Read and the St Andrews chapter, like their Facebook page.