We caught up with Bea Chamberlain, op-shopping expert and owner of the second hand clothing brand ‘Round the Block’ to pick her brain about what influences her style, how the roots of her brand grew and her best styling tips for our Thrills Suede collection.
What saw your career change from Law to running your own pre-loved clothing company?
“Well I’ve loved clothes forever and have wanted to do something fashion-orientated on the side for many years. It was always one of those things when I was younger that I’d get really into for brief periods - I’d start sewing or get really into op-shopping and then I’d just suppress it to focus on whatever else was my primary focus at the time. Throughout university I’d have these moments of really wanting to pursue something in fashion- whether that was working in fashion editorial or writing, but I just decided I’d go down that professional path of getting the law degree at least to get me started. After I finished university, I moved straight up here (to New Plymouth) for a job- I’m actually from Wellington. I didn’t actually know where I wanted to work but I just randomly applied for a job in New Plymouth. I really liked the feel of this place- it’s got a lowkey-artsy feel kind of like Wellington that’s really cool. And you wouldn’t expect it from a small place like this either. I ended up getting the job around the start of 2017 and just got straight into law, but that whole time I was always looking for something fashion-related to do on the side. Last year I did some travel and when I came back I felt really inspired to just go for it and pursue my passions. Travel opens your eyes a lot, and all that time sitting on the beach really got me thinking! So I started plotting what I was going to do when I came home and had the initial thought that I wanted to create my own clothing line, but it’s not as simple getting into that as it is to sell second hand/vintage clothing. The start-up costs are so much higher and it’s just not quite as straight forward (especially having no experience in the fashion industry). People would regularly comment on the pieces I’d buy for myself from second hand stores, and even suggested I should start sourcing and selling my finds. So that’s where it all began really.”
What aspects of life do you feel influence your personal style the most?
“The style question was actually one I was dreading because I don’t feel like I have one. My style is really influenced by the creative content I’m exposed to on a day-to-day basis, for example what I listen to in the morning, or something I like on Instagram. Style is one of the principles I’ve based my brand around, and in particular, the idea that style is a much broader concept than what some people seem to think. I’m influenced by everything really. Like this morning on Instagram I saw all this content from the movie Clueless- someone had compiled all of these 90’s looks from Clueless into a video. So film can also be really inspirational from a style stand-point”.
Do you feel that certain eras have impacted your style?
“Not really. For example,I like fashion from the 70’s but not too much of it - or I’ll like some fashion from other eras but not all of it styled together. And I feel that’s what people like when I style pieces, because it’s not always predictable and you can mash pieces together and create a really great look. So I don't really know what my style is - I suppose it's eclectic -but it’s taken me a while to have the confidence to start styling in that way. When I was younger I’d put something on and wonder what people would think- but then I got to a point where I actually realised that I should just wear whatever I thought looked sick. Then it's just having the confidence to step out and wear it.”
What are your wardrobe staples that you can’t go without?
“My high-top black converse, my high-top vans, these vintage cowboy boots (pictured), some good chunky knits and I love high waisted denim, these Thrills ones I have on right now are good.”
Do you market yourself and consider your brand as a sustainable fashion brand? Why / why not?
“Great question. I think what I’m doing is sustainable fashion- but my primary focus isn’t “sustainability”. Personally I wouldn’t not wear something that I absolutely loved if it wasn’t necessarily sustainable- maybe that’s a bad thing, but I’m more focused on the style than the sustainability aspect. But then again, if I absolutely love a piece I am likely to keep it forever so it would be sustainable in that respect. I’ve been doing a feature on my Instagram on Sundays where I post a ‘sustainable fashion wishlist’. And I’ve been pretty conscious going into that “sustainable content” space, because I don’t want to appear as though it's my main focus. But at the same time I didn’t want to come off as telling people that things are “sustainable” without doing my research, so I felt the need to explain what I consider sustainable to compile that wishlist. Really it's intended to highlight the awesome work that certain brands are doing, whether or not they fully market themselves as sustainable. I think it’s important that people don’t discard brands as not sustainable just because they’re not 100 % perfect or because it's not the cornerstone of the brand’s marketing. It's not black and white so you have to be flexible about it.”
Can you offer us some styling tips for suede / suede look garments?
My most important tip for styling the brown suede look is to be experimental with it and don’t be bound by the pre-conceptions about how it ‘should’ be styled. Neutral tones are the most obvious pairing when styling the brown suede look. You could quickly throw together a great outfit with the Thrills Sueded Belle Pant and the Thrills Classic Rib Tank like we did in this shoot. With a chunky knit over top such as the Thrills Journey Cardigan, you’re good to go.
The Thrills Jessie jacket would look amazing buttoned up worn with a pair of high-waisted black leather pants. Another spin on the black pairing is to go with charcoal or other grey tones to lighten things up a bit. Here we styled the Thrills Sueded Belle Pant with a vintage cropped Harley Davidson tee- a fail-proof combo. My final and favourite tip is that if you enjoy wearing colour, don’t shy away from it when styling your brown suede look. Certain colours will go better than others, so test them out and see what works best for you. In this shoot we styled the Thrills Suede Belle Pant with a chunky vintage knit in a fuchsia tone to achieve a relaxed but fun look that’s perfect for winter.
Suede does not date- keep your styling fresh and you’ll be rocking these pieces for years. Your future self will thank you for it.
Interview by Jasmine Mallinger
Check out what Bea is listening to below