This appeal is also reflected in the Brit’s own apparel. Her designs feature clean lines and an aesthetic that is contemporary, yet classic. She elaborates: “We do not follow the pattern of commercialisation. Although we like our products to be well received, it is not in our interest to sell thousands of them. We are not afraid to provide a narrative or an aesthetic that takes a step back — that almost takes a stand — and evokes a different emotional attachment to each single piece.” The core of Payne’s approach lies in making the most of the material she sees in front of her, taking its natural characteristics and allowing them to have a voice.
To do so, the material of her choice is leather. Although she appreciates vegan alternatives and says she would never shy away from them, Payne has always been interested in real leather. “Leather is a really elevated and precious material,” she says. “It holds a real value and it’s also very time-consuming to tan a skin, to colour it. Especially vegetable tanning, which we are working with, can take a year per skin. And I genuinely believe that it’s right to show such devotion to the whole process. Although animal skin is a byproduct of the meat industry, it holds no less value than the living being it came from in the first place. The important thing, though, is that it’s managed correctly.” To ensure this, the emerging designer only works with tanneries either in the UK or in the EU, whose use of chemicals is strongly regulated. “Veg tan barely has any chemicals. It relies on natural processes in order to tan skins, hence why it can take so long. Vegetable-tanned leather is a biodegradable material. If we use our knowledge of traditional techniques and combine it with modern society’s advances in technology, we can replicate our heritage on a larger scale and take advantage of the incredibly low environmental impact this process has.”