Chineza set to impress in London
Bermuda Fashion Festival was “nerve-racking”, but Chineza Augustus will always be grateful.
It set her on the path she's now on: London Fashion Week.
The Bermudian designer will be there in September displaying her brand Sevuhn before industry influencers — buyers, international media and A-list celebrities who might select a piece from her collection to wear at a major event.
She got her start while young, influenced by her mother Rosina Santucci.
“I always cut up jeans and stuff like that. My mom always made me and my brother's clothing. She wanted to be a designer and, although she never got into it, her [interest and talent] pretty much paved the way for me.”
Despite that early appeal, Ms Augustus didn't get hands on with a sewing machine wheel until she was a student at CedarBridge Academy.
“Michelle Fray taught a class where you have to make an apron. It sparked an interest in design and I started drawing from there.”
Immediately after high school, she went to London, England, to study fashion photography, but “got homesick” and left before completing the course.
Back in Bermuda, however, she regained focus.
“Everyone was pushing me to keep going,” she said. “I started drawing. Michelle Fray [had shown] me how to draw on a figure and so from there it was all up to me to create.”
She chose the name Sevuhn as it's the pronunciation dictionary.com has attached to seven, her favourite number; “the number of perfection”.
“I wanted my clothing line to represent perfection,” she said.
In 2018 Ms Augustus signed up for Bermuda Fashion Festival, but withdrew after she became pregnant with her son Noah, who ultimately became “a motivation, a push” to helping achieve her goals.
She was accepted again this year. And while she didn't win, she recognises it was “a good opportunity”.
“It gave me exposure. If I hadn't done it, I probably never would have got back into designing, which is what I love to do. It got me back to Instagram, which is big right now for people scouting [new talent].”
It's how she was invited to London Fashion Week. Her designs were spotted by Marian Alvarez of Oxford Fashion Studio; a formal offer later came from the group's runway director, Tiffany Sanders.
“They review more than 40,000 designers per year,” said Ms Augustus. “I was very excited, but then it came down to money. Every fashion week has a price. It's very expensive.”
She plans to take eight of her designs to the annual showcase in the UK capital next year, but to do that, she needs to raise $10,000.
“It costs £6,520 for eight pieces to be in the show with models and video,” she said, explaining she'd axed photography because of the attached cost, but was certain she'd find support for the rest. “I know I'll get takers. I'm very confident.
“I hope to be exposed, to put Bermuda on the map. I hope that young people of Bermuda see [it as a sign that you should] never give up on your dreams.
“I hope to get opportunities working with established designers, with companies, with models. I hope celebrities want to start collaborating — just to get my name out there.”
As for the future, her dream is to open a shop of her designs; she is determined to also have a “home store” in Bermuda.
“I have faith. I'm going to make it work,” she said. “I feel like coming up with the concept is the hard part for me. You always want your concept to match your designs. I want to be able to talk about it and have people understand why this design is this way — that's the challenging part for me.”
•Follow Chineza Augustus on Instagram: @sevuhns.designs; firstname.lastname@example.org