AMBER HUNTER

Head designer of menswear brand ‘Underated’ Amber Hunter speaks to REEK Perfume about gender equality, female empowerment and being your own boss.

Tell us what you do?

A wise bitch once said ‘there are 24 usable hours in everyday” (Liv Tyler, Empire Records) and you better believe this girlboss is living by this motto. I’m currently the head designer of men’s streetwear brand Underated, spending all my time researching, designing and producing garments that allow men to express their individuality while embodying London street style.

How do you find working in menswear as a female designer? Do you face any challenges your male peers don’t?

I absolutely fucking love it. You know, I actually feel like it gives me an edge and an extra level of respect – some of the most successful menswear designers are women. I’ve had the occasional shade thrown my way, but I figure if you’re gonna do it, be the best you can and don’t give anyone a reason to doubt you. I worked damn hard to get to where I am and I’ve sacrificed a lot in all aspects of my life to be here. I get sick of people underestimating me because they think I’m some shy wee girl from Scotland and all I do is draw clothes all day but it only motivates me to work harder and prove people wrong.

Do you feel that women are celebrated in your industry? Tell us about some of the women who have inspired your own career?

100% – women in this industry are fierce. I actually feel like men and women are pretty equal in fashion, it’s more about being head strong and working your ass off. If you don’t have the right mind set you’re not going to make it and believe me I’ve been there. Kelly Cutrone is my number one boss ass bitch and without her I definitely wouldn’t think the way I do now. You can have the talent and the drive to be successful, but if you don’t start to think like a strong woman, you’re never going to be one.

Where do you find inspiration for your own style?

If it’s black, it’s on my back. To be honest I work so much most of the time I look like a 17 year old boy but I’m actually okay with that. I don’t know if working in menswear automatically leads you to be more androgynous with your look, I tend to gravitate towards relaxed boyfriend fits and a staple skinny jean. I’m going to the hairdressers next week for the first time since I was 5 for gods sake – I’m definitely not your conventional girly girl. If I manage to find some time to go out though you know a bitch is going to make an effort. Still black though. Always.

What gender equality causes mean the most to you personally and why?

I believe in equality in all things, whether thats gender, sexuality etc. The pay gap is a big issue for me right now, the fact that a woman can do the exact same job as a man and get paid less JUST because she is a woman is ridiculous. Isn’t it ludicrous that men are literally given life by women and theres STILL a gap in equality in this day and age? What the hell kind of bullshit is that?

What women do you most identify with from history to present day?

In my final year of university I was one of 5 students worldwide to be sponsored by Hermès. Although I never had the chance to meet her, Véronique Nichanian will always be a designer I identify with. She has an enviable ability to mix high end luxe with casual sportswear layering, and has been the head designer of the menswear line since it started it 1988. If that’s not the dream I don’t know what is.

In music – Stevie Nicks. 68 years old and she’s still serving up such effortless beauty and realness on stage. Her talent is undeniable and she defines what a women should be – head strong, unapologetic, inspirational and free spirited.

In my own life, my younger sister Jasmyn. She is everything I wish I could be in one fierce, polished package. She’s the person in my life that tells me when I’ve fucked up and puts me in my place in the most savage way. She makes me believe in myself and that I can always do better. I love her.

What changes do you think should be implemented to try and encourage more women to go into business and start their own brand?

Sometimes I feel like women confuse being confident with arrogance, there is nothing wrong with being confident and believing in yourself. This should be encouraged as early as possible. Secondly, there needs to be more education and support on the business side. I never had one class in business at university, NOT ONE. I was told that, “if you or your family doesn’t have a lot of money, you should give up now” what kind of nonsense is that? We need to make sure there is support and help each other build creatively – who knows what we might be missing out on if the right people don’t get the encouragement they need.

What signifies female strength to you?

Making mistakes, overcoming the unexpected and straight up owning who you are as an individual. Being who you are and knowing what you’re not – there’s nobody more powerful than a woman with knowledge.

What smells remind you of femininity?

Jo Malone – Lime, Basil and Mandarin. It’s the scent I remember my mother wearing the most growing up and it’s the perfect combination of strong and sweet which I feel embodies what it is to be a woman.

What makes you a Damn Rebel Bitch? Tell us what kind of bitch you are.

I’m confident that I have the power to make a difference. Im a pisces, very sensitive and emotional and I will always put others before myself. At the same time, I’ve got to a place in my life and career where I don’t give a fuck about what other people think – especially if it’s negative. At the end of the day as long as I am doing the best I can, passing on knowledge and skills to others and fighting for what I truly believe in – I’ll be a damn rebel bitch until the day I die.