by Tara Fraser
Channeling a combination of classic skatewear and stylish women's attire, Man Up Girl is shaking up the UK's south coast with their bold, hand-printed garb—or in their words, "sports casuals." The young brand releases its second collection dubbed "Tough Luck" today, and it promises to be practical and functional—without sacrificing aesthetics.
While studying fashion design at Kingston University in 2011, co-founder Jess Piper (also a brand ambassador for O'Neill) recognized a gap in the market for women who skate—inspiring her to create Man Up Girl with her business partner, Jess Perks, and the support of their Southcoast Collective. Influenced by the evolution of men’s skate wear, Piper's aim was to combine traditional, functional shapes with feminine detailing, all the while adding a creative twist. Her emphasis was—perhaps surprisingly—on pockets. Piper tells CH with a laugh, “The biggest issue in women's wear is that we apparently don't need to carry anything." The upshot is a range of attire for women who aren't necessarily skaters, but who are active and embrace the outdoors.
The Man Up Team firmly believes in staying local and keeping all production UK-based: "We design everything in-house, print and embroider T-shirts and sweatshirts in-house, then we work closely with our factories in London to produce prototypes—which we tweak and re-tweak and finally send to production—the long way around, basically." But it's this local production that gives Piper and Perks the ability to remain hands-on throughout the entire process, meaning each piece is truly theirs, "We want to keep it independent and young. Each piece is extremely personal."
Of the latest collection, Piper says, "The whole collection is centered around the idea of tough luck—taking what you were dealt and making the most of it. I really wanted to start with inspirations/scenarios I don't like and change them into something a little more bearable—more of a challenge I guess. It's so easy to start with things you love and have it done with. One of our new T-shirts is based around the idea of never having enough space or time—one of my top all-time dislikes. It was a weird thing to design really, going against most of your instincts and surprisingly the outcome has been my favorite collection yet."
Man Up Girl's products—including functional outerwear, playfully printed T-shirts, retro-inspired sweatsuits and more—are available online.
Images courtesy of Man Up Girl