“Championing quality and frivolity whilst maintaining ecological integrity.” The class of 2020 graduate Steven Stokey-Daley wrote this optimistic English flourish of a tagline for his S.S Daley label on a wish and a promise that—against all odds—has come true. In the dark days of the first lockdown, Stokey-Daley had started to make versions of his English public school tradition-subverting Oxford bags and shirts from locally-sourced vintage and end-of-roll fabrics, and began selling them through his Instagram, from his bedroom in Liverpool. Then, boom: Harry Styles.
Harry Lambert styled Mr. Styles in S.S Daley in the “Golden” video which launched in October; the pop star wore a pair of wide-legged trousers and a free-flowing white shirt. From then on, Steven has been selling pieces on his website as fast as he can post them. “I think before the Harry Styles thing happened we’d made about 50 pairs of trousers. I’d send people pictures of the fabric I had, do a little computer mock-up of how they’d look, and they were really into having one-of-a-kind,” he relates. “Then after Harry Styles, it became like, it just tripled and quadrupled, crazily.” Undaunted by all the challenges of distance and isolation, he methodically set about working with his family and skilled people in the neighborhood, got help from people he’d met at Westminster University who were at a loose end, and called local fabric mills and curtain retailers for unsold materials. “And my boyfriend, who’s a dancer, has moved in with us too. He’s really dived into it as well.”
So now comes the S.S Daley sophomore collection, “The Robe Room is Becoming the Garden,” inspired by Cecil Beaton’s photographs of his at-home dressing up fantasias in the 1930s. “When I looked at a lot of Beaton’s work, it was him and his friends experimenting with dress in the home. Which I think reflects what we’re all doing at the minute, within our four walls.” Hand-smocked and machine-smocked shirts, faded chintzy rose
Oxford bags, Melton shorts, exaggerated cable knits, old-school ribbed singlets and underwear, pajama stripes, crocheted flowers, and all, it also reflects everything about the aesthetic point of view and flair for cut and finish that Stokey-Daley’s built up. “It’s this idea that we’re sort of queering or subverting very iconographic archetypal garments that belong to that English public school world. It’s experimental with the way it’s put together,” he says, “although all the pieces when taken apart are really wearable, like commercially viable.”