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London Alternative Fashion
London Alternative Fashion

Everyone Loves a New Hat

Hats On Heads
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Hats On HeadsThe fashion world is challenging enough for retailers of clothing and accessories, no matter how unique the collection. But it may be even more difficult for someone to strike it big in a relatively forgotten fashion arena, such as millinery, for example.

Yet perhaps because she is specializing in the trade of hat making, Angela Coupe has been able to carve a space out for herself in a world of fresh new ideas and individual looks. Her fancy and artistic hats have been featured on catwalks and magazines, commissioned for parties and weddings and sold through her website - entitled Hats on Heads - for the past several years, and she's only beginning.

"More and more young people are wearing hats," Coupe said. "From the baseball hat, they're more used to wearing them, and I think they can be prepared to be more adventurous."

Coupe and her colleague Carol Robinson have stuck mainly to showy artistic pieces of headwear intended for special occasions, but they are looking to branch out to street wear and more casual looks that people can wear comfortably and still feel different.

"It's a big business," Coupe said. "I think you have to really sort of market it at individual styles."

Since a good deal of supermarkets and high street boutiques sell trendy, yet very cheap hats, Coupe says the business is very competitive and she is always looking to set herself apart.

"The thing is, it gets so difficult to get onto the high streets," Coupe said. After graduating from design school at the University of London, the milliner was fortunate with the amount of media attention she received during the early years.

Her collection of space age designed hats was featured at the Alternative Arts Show in Spitalfields Market in 2005, and she was a Hat Designer of the Year semifinalist in the international Hat Magazine the same year. She also commissioned a hat for celebrity, Charlie Demic, which was invaluable to her publicity.

"You have to try to pursue media," Coupe said. "Through competitions and local magazines and newspapers - you have to get your name noticed."

Working out of Lincoln, it would have been much more difficult to promote her hats, but marketing in London - the East End, Carnaby Street and Brick Lane - Coupe has seen that people have a different style and says it's neat to see what they're wearing each day.

"It's the eclectic sort of style," Coupe said. And her millinery goes right along with every London fashion-hounds desire to find a unique gem to boast about.

"Every one (hat) is individual - I don't make two the same," Coupe said. "You're not going to get something anyone else has."

With the expense of finding a stall and commuting to London, and the outlandish cost for holding your own show in the city - something like UKP 20,000, Coupe said - this milliner has stuck to an Internet business, which she is currently expanding.

It allows customers from London and abroad the opportunity to buy and commission hats, and through the site, Coupe can advertise her new Artisan Design studio in Lincoln that will be used for hands-on teaching and millinery work.

Coupe and Robinson are continually experimenting with edgy fabrics, textiles and styles, and hope to start selling in various boutiques in London very soon.

Lauren Burke

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