Designer Bel Sorrentino Talks NYFW, Genderless Fashion and Celebrity Designers

Ever wondered how a fashion designer ends up at New York Fashion Week? Bel Sorrentino, the designer behind Sorrentino Studios, recently sat with Style News for an exclusive interview and she shares with us how she ended up showing her ELEMENT 3.0 collection in New York and what drives her when designing.

How would you say Sorrentino Studios is set apart from other fashion labels and what inspires you in the design process?

My label is unique because of its eye-catching, bold and androgynous designs. All pieces can be worn across all genders and each piece is made ethically and sustainably. All garments are made by hand and a deep level of care is put into each process, from conception to design, to pattern-making, cutting and sewing. My inspiration comes from finding materials and fabrics, which leads to a flood of ideas and possibilities that I can create from what I’ve selected. I usually have a few potential designs in my head when choosing materials, and when I’m in toile and design stage I find this gets me into my creative flow.

What inspired you to create a fashion label with a predominately androgynous identity?

I was inspired to create a brand that caters to all genders because I found myself purchasing men’s shirts, jackets and sometimes sneakers too! I purchase items based off what I am drawn to, not what gender category they are in. I have questioned how we separate genders when it comes to clothing and accessories because I tend to float between both styles. I had a couple of male friends who were purchasing “female branded” singlets, pants and bodysuits because they like the style and this really inspired me to cater to all genders instead of categorising. I actually purchased a Burberry vintage men’s jacket and share this with my partner (he wears it as a fitted jacket and I wear it oversized), so I love the idea of sharing pieces with your partner or friends regardless of gender. I also love blurring the lines between feminine and masculine ways of dressing.

How do you think your label fits within the genderless fashion movement?

My label is more on the edgy side of genderless fashion. Looks from ELEMENT 2.0 and 3.0 are more likely to be worn at events, festivals, and nights out, compared with some of the more staple pieces you see in the market.

You recently showcased your latest collection during New York Fashion Week, have you participated in other fashion weeks around the world?

New York Fashion Week was actually my first global fashion week, which ran in September this year. I only launched my label in December 2020, so I haven’t applied to any other global fashion weeks yet, this is something I just haven’t had much of a chance to do, but will certainly be focusing on in the future. I would love to show in Milan or Paris.

What made you decide to showcase your latest collection in New York?

I started getting a few orders from New York and thought that my brand would do well there. My pieces are bold and make a statement so I thought people in New York would resonate well with my aesthetic. I was also excited to have an adventure and get out of my comfort zone so I thought I would bite the bullet and apply.

How did that come about?

I was speaking to a friend who works in PR and she had told me to apply for the Flying Solo show at New York Fashion Week. I ended up applying for the show shortly after and found out that I got accepted about 6 weeks before the show.

Who is in your mind as the Sorrentino Studios wearer when designing?

I’m designing for a customer who is bold, confident, creative and is looking for something unique to invest in. They care about the environment and their impact when purchasing. They look for pieces that are high quality and made ethically and sustainably. Our customer is looking for statement pieces that are versatile and can be dressed up or down depending on how they style it.

How do you feel about so many celebrities dipping their toes in fashion design?

It really depends on the celebrity and what they are doing with their platform. If they tend to go down the fast fashion route with unethical practices and have clearly only created their business for profit with no real purpose or thought then I do find it quite frustrating and disheartening to see. However, if they are using their platform to make a positive impact on the world and clearly have a purpose for their brand (other than to make money) then I find it inspiring especially if they are using their resources to help push fashion towards a more sustainable and ethical way of manufacturing products. For example, Jason Mamoa launched sustainable and vegan sneakers made from algae, cork and organic cotton. I really do admire when celebrities use their platform to bring awareness and offer solutions to problems, and think it’s only problematic when they are contributing to waste, unethical practices and negative environmental impacts.

If given the opportunity who would you like to collaborate with?

I would love to collaborate with Nelson Made, a Melbourne-based footwear designer, and design some shoes. I recently came across their brand and resonate with their ethos and focus on sustainability.


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