Bombshells, Babes and Ravers
From a van on Exeter High Street to the beaches of Asia, Alexandra Richards speaks to Soraya Goggin from Kuccia<br/><br/>Photos: Mike Alsford
From a van on Exeter High Street to the beaches of Asia, Alexandra Richards speaks to Soraya Goggin from KucciaPhotos: Mike Alsford
A jetlagged but bubbly Soraya and I met at her family’s farmhouse near Exminster, a mere 24 hours after she touched down from four weeks of meetings and appointments in Bangkok. Soraya’s dedicated work ethic has seen her fashion brand, Kuccia, skyrocket from humble beginnings selling her clothing on beaches and on Exeter High Street, to month-long trips to visit her factories and meet contacts in Asia, interspersed with photoshoots in enviable locations such as the Dominican Republic and Bali.While at university, Soraya did a stint of work experience for the BBC, earning a much coveted position as Broadcast Assistant at BBC Radio Bristol. “It was an amazing experience, but I needed a way to earn some extra money.” With a logistical nightmare on her hands – studying in Bath, living in Exminster and working in Bristol – Soraya needed to be flexible because the BBC would call with little notice and “when you are at the bottom of the pecking order you do tend to say yes to working mad hours!” Soraya decided selling clothes could be the answer, although she had no formal training and no background in fashion. She would often buy fabric and make her own clothes, but “luckily people didn’t look at the stitching too closely!”Soraya bought a ticket to India in her second year of study, with a vague plan of where to go and a fistful of her own designs. “In India they do a lot of designs using beautiful recycled silk saris, so I had dresses and skirts made up to sell at home and, luckily, people loved them!” Soraya began selling her clothes around the South West, out of her beloved graffitied van, but Kuccia soon overshadowed her job at the BBC. When she graduated, Soraya hit the ground running as Kuccia was already in several surf shops and boutiques in Devon and Cornwall, and her philosophy of using recycled and end-of-roll fabrics became Kuccia’s trademark.
The shopper gets exclusive designs without the price tag to match!
Soraya and Melissa, her “assistant, but we don’t really call it that!” design the patterns, which are then produced in a variety of fabrics. They design with three fictional muses in mind: the tousled beach babe, the retro bombshell, and the ‘rave racer’.By using end-of-roll fabrics, Soraya keeps her costs down and her designs exclusive. Shops can buy a Kuccia design in a pack of 12, but each dress might be made from a different material or pattern, meaning the shopper gets an exclusive piece without the price tag to match! Asking factories to produce designs in this non mass-produced fashion can be tricky, but Soraya maintains her relationships with her contacts in Asia through several visits a year, where the workers are paid a fair wage and the conditions are good. Soraya’s gambler’s attitude has been an asset to Kuccia from the ourset; her first photoshoot for the brand was in the Dominican Republic. “My brother’s friend, Jason Reposar, is a world-famous surf photographer. He was going out to the Caribbean so he told me to come along with some of my clothes. Some of the surfers’ girlfriends were models so I just had to organise my flight and accommodation!” The resulting pictures elevated Soraya’s brand and brought in lots of new stockists. Since then, Soraya has done photoshoots in Bali and Thailand to name a few, and Kuccia collections now comprise a mixture of end-of-roll fabrics and prints designed by Soraya and Mel, freelance textile designers and local artists.Soraya’s eye-catching designs and fairtrade philosophy have led to interest from several high street stores and the online fashion giant ASOS, for whom she recently did a photo shoot at the Devon County Show. Soraya explains how important the county is to the brand. “I learned so much from selling on Devon’s beaches and the High Street. It gave me inspiration for the branding behind Kuccia as a surfing lifestyle brand. Girls from London would come down to the beach for a week looking for hippy, beachy clothes, and I think that Kuccia gives people a taste of the South West. It embodies the aspirational side of our county; one of endless sun, sea and space!” Kuccia has also caught the eye of some of Devon’s famous home-grown talent – “Joss Stone loves Kuccia. She wore one of my limited edition pieces to the MTV Music Awards, which was amazing! She really represents Kuccia style so I love that she’s from Devon!”
With creative and spontaneous Soraya at the helm, a growing number of international stockists and plans to expand into the Australian surfing industry, the future looks bright for this quintessential Devon brand.
www.kuccia.com, 01392 834863
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• North Devon is beautiful. One of my best friends lives in Woolacombe and we went surfing the other day. It’s gorgeous!• The Turf Locks is the best place to go on a weekend. I used to love their chicken, brie and sweet chilli ciabatta but I’m not sure if they do it anymore; I’m considering starting a campaign to get it back!• The Lighter in Topsham is one of my favourite places to go for a drink.• Where I live! When I’m home I love wandering around the fields and forest near my house, to me that’s a tough one to beat!
Photos by Mike Alsfordwww.alsfordpictures.com
With thanks to East Devon Council and models: Lucy Ogilvie and Mel Uttley