I first became aware of Isolated Heroes a few years ago when out of boredom I explored Asos Marketplace, a subset of the Asos website and platform for independent brands and sellers (now listed under the 'Boutiques' tab). It mainly featured vintage stores out of the UK but there were some shining examples of independent designers and obviously Isolated Heroes was one of them. Even now new talent keeps cropping up such as Molly Trubody with a similar aesthetic and penchant for sparkly eyebrows. Although a word of warning about the marketplace some sellers are not as they seem and particularly when it comes to footwear sell run-of-the-mill styles that you would otherwise find on eBay. That's all well and good for some, but I prefer to know more about the people who make my clothes and support ethical decisions in business. That's part of the charm behind Isolated Heroes, as well as watching how the style has evolved over the years.
I think Isolated Heroes is unique in that it has always had its own voice in the fashion industry so to speak. What's more common is a change in technique or exploration of different styles before finally settling on a signature look. It's clear that Isolated Heroes is the direct reflection of designer Samantha McEwen's strong sense of self. Not only is she creating the clothes she wants to wear by hand but her soul goes into the design and construction of these garments, which in the 21st century is a virtual rarity. It's comforting to know that these clothes are created by someone so passionate about what they do, but also by purchasing one of these amazing coats or jackets McEwen is able to survive in what has proven to be a very competitive industry.
The lookbooks and photo shoots created last year are by far their best to date and manage to capture the essence of many UK and London based fashion bloggers and style as a whole. And while it may seem over zealous to pinpoint a single brand as representative of an entire blogging community it's easy to imagine certain bloggers wearing some of the pieces. Over the years there has been a departure from raver culture and the migration towards sequins, tinsel and Mongolian wool to create high impact outfits. I could go on and on about the different pieces I've had my eye on for months now and have been itching to buy but I'm flat broke at the moment so to say that entertaining such ideas is dangerous is an understatement.
Despite my high praise for this independent and proudly Scottish brand there were a number of styling decisions which I took issue with. First and foremost is white girls should not wear bindis, end of story. I know of at least one article written for the Huffington by a woman of colour in defense of the trend, justifying cultural appropriation as a sign of the times and how "style evolves". But it fails to recognize how the marginalization of certain groups contributes to and is in fact part of systemic oppression. The use of braids is also a little unsettling, and while many would argue that a hairstyle in itself isn't racist it does seem to perpetuate a legacy of white girls hijacking the style and culture of black women. I don't want to dwell on this too much as there are already an overwhelming number of essays and articles on this subject and I encourage you to read.
On a more positive note following a flood of happy snaps from customers on their instagram Isolated Heroes announced they would be expanding into a plus size range, catering for sizes 16-24 UK after several custom orders. Plus size is still a relatively new market which many companies have yet to crack. Even sadder still is the sentiment that by increasing the measurements of a dress pattern they can make a plus size range. It's as Tim Gunn said on Project Runway there is an unwillingness of certain designers to treat plus size models with respect and dignity or just a downright awkwardness. It's common when being so used to making sample sized clothing or fitting garments around a mannequin that young designers don't know how to approach a variety of different body types and Isolated Heroes have quelled this fear quite early in the brand's history. Hopefully it sets a precedence at least on a local scale in Scotland that other independents will follow very soon.