Gender free Australian based footwear brand Sovereign Collection is born of non-conformity, individuality and purpose, rather than the self-conscious, consumerist tendencies that have been somewhat stitched into the mainstream fashion industry. Sovereign Collection lives to rattle the cage and bring style autonomy to the fore.
“My central motivation is to highlight the sense of freedom we feel when we align our politics and identity with self-expression,” SC founder, director and maker, Veronica Eulate says.
“I am passionate about the politics of visibility. I don’t identify simply as a maker or craftsperson, but rather I am inspired by the idea of working in anthropology or sociology, blending the visual aspect of having killer style but connecting that with meaning and purpose. Cultural change is not only necessary, but inevitable,” Eulate continues. “If we want to create sustainable societies that support and nurture people and the planet, we all need to redefine our relationship to clothing and style and become conscious of what we wear and how we wear it.”
SC lives and breathes to innovate in unique ways that support the causes that mean so much to humanity and the planet. “I know I’m just one tiny, independent maker, who loves beautiful things – non-conforming things – but I also know I’m part of this growing movement,” Eulate says. “I think of SC as ‘an intersectional brand’, one that blends the visual aspect with human-centred designs and style.”
With a strong socio-political background, fostered in the realm of LGBTQIA+ community health, Eulate brings the passion and individuality of her heritage and academic persuasions to the front. A Bolivian-American who has called Australia home for 14 years, Eulate is powered by the Latina pulses of her Washington-based, Bolivian-born family. And her unique world view is testament to the changing global landscape. “When people buy and wear clothing and construct their own style, what they’re bringing to the world is their own statement of their values, beliefs and their world view,” she says. “You can’t do that without bringing lived experience into your personal style.”
“I can’t deny that I’m most inspired by my community. Queer fashion is wild, exciting and innovative. When you look at queer style, its history and modern evolution, people are wearing things in protest to systems that have told them who they should be. My community deconstructs this. We reject these norms and these definitions and we have redefined who we want to be and how we want to be seen on our own terms, outside of societal acceptance. To me, this is not only exciting and inspiring, it is vital. We all have something to learn here.”
“Footwear is generally ready to wear, with little room for the individual to influence shoe design, and that felt stifling to me. The idea of transforming the look of your shoes to suit your mood, values, or identity became a fixation that led me to create my first collection, ‘The Vanguard Collection’. We live in a world where a small minority of powerful people and institutions define and create what’s visible and what’s valued in society. They have an interest in homogenising us. They want us to remain unconscious and detached.”
“I’m interested in the growing movement of voices that seeks to dismantle the pervading archetype of what’s beautiful and what’s valued, so it’s important to me to create gender-free products that allow individuals to own their personal journey of expression by offering an ability to play with style, colour and character, in a way that’s relevant and meaningful to them. There is no one way to be someone – so my work seeks to question why should there be only one way to wear something?”
“I’m most inspired by individuals and communities who thrive in systems that weren’t designed for them. Their strength, courage and resilience, motivates me and my work. For me, queer style is the lived experience of this; it’s a visual story of survival. Our community elders subverted and reclaimed the very ideas and concepts that threatened their existence by creating cultural codes and stylistic expressions out of social transgressions. Using style was a language they used, and we still use today, to find each other, connect and celebrate a shared view of the world. It has become emblematic of pride, protest and independence. It’s this kind of boldness to life that inspires Sovereign Collection. I want to celebrate the personal expression of people who refuse to be anything but themselves.”
Check out more of unisex footwear brand Sovereign Collection’s range on their website.
Words by Veronica Eulate, campaign images shot by Helen White and portraits by Lou Helliwell