1. Who is Leah Widdicombe?
Hi! I am a handmade clothing designer with an academic background in animal advocacy! So far I’ve spent quite a few years studying, working with, and working for nonhuman animals… rehabilitating monkeys, training dogs, and training humans to work with animals… I’m really driven to make a positive impact on our relationship and our environment. In the past few years, it has become apparent to me that fast fashion is loading our landfills, and microplastic fibers from our clothes are polluting our oceans. My frustration with this, mixed with my love for sewing, recently led me to start a sustainable clothing line, called Charlie Darwin Textiles. With this tiny business I get to perfect my craftsmanship at sewing and botanical dyeing, and I use the handmade process and natural-fiber garments as a vehicle to speak about our own inner animal and impact on the environment.2. How do you define fashion and or style?
I’m a big animal behavior nerd, so I think of fashion and style as just really interesting animal behaviors! If you look around, you will see that we, as primates, create little nests for ourselves and we decorate our bodies; to keep warm, to keep safe, attract partners, and to express our personalities. And here I am, a curious homo sapien, exploring new ways to decorate bodies, experimenting with plant dyes and different weights of woven linens.3. What influences your style? ie travel, work, movies, magazines, social media trends, celebrities, color, etc.
The structure of the clothing I design is heavily influenced by pieces I already love in my own closet combined with inspiration from historical clothing from the 16-19th centuries, and even some fashion from the 1950s. But my personal style sometimes differs from my Charlie Darwin clothing, as I also love finding unique androgynous clothing at thrift stores!4. How has your style evolved?
Over time my style as gotten much more androgynous and earth-toned. I was sort of tomboy growing up; I played soccer and honestly just played in the dirt a lot. But I was friends with mostly very girly cheerleaders! So I think for a while, between around 14-22 years old, I tried to force myself into bright colors, polyester tight fitting crop tops from the mall, etc. In the last 5 years I’ve changed a lot and found myself the most confident when wearing one-of-a-kind clothing, rich earth tones, and fewer plastic fibers (no nylons, polyesters, etc.)
5. What does your dream wardrobe consist of?
My dream wardrobe consists of pieces from other handmade textile artists like myself! It would feature linen tops and hats from Kinzzza, dreamy dresses from Ovate, and every slouchy every-day item from Ingile. I have an added appreciation for the craftsmanship of silly things like seams, buttonhole stitching, and garment labels; and ideally all my clothing would be built to last a lifetime.6. If you were to give fashion advice to your younger self what would it be?
Wear a jacket when it’s cold out!! Bring socks to air-conditioned events in the summer! Don’t buy shoes with no arch support! I really feel that fashion is a fun and exciting way to express myself, and it can feel even more fun when you actually feel comfortable in it.7. How important is it to be body positive and to appreciate the skin that you're in?
Very important! I think it’s important to really foster the connection between your mind and body—your thoughts are simply a product of synapses, hormones, and neurons firing in your brain. Finding the foods, activities, and sleep schedules that energize your brain and body can only lead to more positive thoughts! For example, I’ve found yoga has really increased my own body positivity in this way!8. What do you love about jewelry? What is your absolute favorite is it earrings, necklaces, etc.
My absolute favorite piece of jewelry has always been earrings. I have 3 piercings on each ear and love to layer as many as 3 dangly earrings (or hoops) at a time. I find that earrings just make life feel more fun!9. How do you incorporate accessories and jewelry into your daily looks?
I often wear jewelry in my photo shoots for Charlie Darwin (I am still my own model for the clothes I make,) and it’s fun to pick out which metals pair the best with the earth tones of my fabrics. I also have a silver ring that I keep on 24/7, which helps me feel a little fancy even when I’m in my pajamas.
10. What are your non-negotiables... What must you have / wear / do? and what are your, “I’m never ever doing or wearing that”?
Well, I must have a ponytail holder with me at all times, and I must wear underwear! But I do not like wearing a bra, so I avoid that at all costs. I also stay away from synthetic fiber clothing because I find it isn’t as breathable (with the exception of maybe a dri-fit shirt for hikes). I am also steering clear of any sandals that absorb water, because they are such a mess in the rain and on sweaty days!11. Tell us why you choose fashion and style. So what we mean by that is, we don’t have to dress up, we don’t have to adorn ourselves with jewels and embellish with accessories, but we do, we choose to… why do you?
I think it makes life more fun! I feel like getting dressed to go out is like doing a painting—all about matching colors, textures, and moods. I love looking at other people’s fashion choices, so I hope I am giving them something fun to look at as well.12. What’s your favorite fashion/style quote or mantra?
“Buy less. Choose well. Make it last.” – Vivienne Westwood13. How and where can people connect with you?
Please connect with me on Instagram! @Charli.e.Darwin
Or check out my own clothing line at my website: https://www.charliedarwintextiles.com.
We agree, Leah- earrings do make life feel more fun! Thank you for sharing a little bit of your story with us.