Soozi Bloor Eyes Up Pretty Green's Throne
Leah Hamer || July 23rd
Fashion. Music. The two are intrinsically linked in British society. After all, you would never have gone to see The Sex Pistols whilst wearing a sensible trouser suit, nor would you go to the opera in ripped fish nets and leather. From Northern Soul flares and Freds, to 90s grunge jeans and crops, to noughties indie kid drainpipes and Chelsea Boots, my wardrobe and my IPod are interdependent on each other, and I am not alone. One creative mind, with a sewing machine and untameable passion for music and fashion, has taken this dedication one step further. Meet Soozi Bloor- the proud owner of Songbyrd Clothing, who is making a wave in Stoke with her musically-inspired online clothing range.
Within about five minutes, I realise that Soozi is bubbling full of opinions on fashion and music- two subjects that I could talk about for hours on end. We sit on the sticky seats of Capello Lounge, on the hottest day of the year, discussing Soozi’s envious life. From attending the first ever V Festival, living in America and watching every indie rock god that has ever lived perform, music has been integral to Soozi’s life. And so has fashion.
‘When I was eight years old I decided I was going to be a fashion designer. So I asked for a full on adult-sized sewing machine. And for some reason I was into hacienda, acid-house style- at eight years old. I was making acid-colour lycra dresses that I thought was cool at the time.’ This fashion phase fortunately faded out and led her to her love of the indie rock and roll trends, which went hand in hand with her musical loves- Happy Mondays, The Charlatans, James (who she followed around the country), and her icon- Richard Ashcroft, ‘He set the bar for all musicians.’
So with a good taste in music, and a better sense of fashion- or style we should say, ‘I think fashion is a bit of a dirty word. I prefer style’, it was inevitable that her career path would combine the two.
It all began with Benicassim back in 2013, when Soozi decided she would have a different outfit for every night- all of which were specially designed for the headlining acts. Bored of the standard merchandise, Soozi realised that there were other ways to show admiration to your favourite artists whilst still standing out from the crowd, ‘You buy band t-shirts, and the girl has disappeared in the t-shirt. There’s no shape or form there, there’s no style there. So I just decided to my own thing and people liked it.’
Inspired by the cookie styles of Karen O and nineties Gwen Steffani, the first night of the festival saw her wear a red feather cape and red dress for The Courteeners, followed by a black dress with a rib-cage design for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club led to a strong reaction from the crowd, ‘People were literally chasing me around and I thought I’d done something wrong. Then this girl came up to me like where’d you get your dress?’
Once she returned home her far-out designs continued to grow, yet it was when she donned a Kasabian-esque dress for their Leicester show that she realised this was more than a hobby. ‘Everyone was coming up to me, even men saying that they wanted one for their girlfriends. And I thought there’s a business here.’
Eighteen months ago, Songbyrd hatched online. Initially based on the styles and lyrics of the likes of Kasabian and Miles Kane, with every concert that Soozi attends, more pieces have been added to her collection. ‘I went to the Etihad for The Stone Roses and I wore a splatter dress with adored going across it. Everyone went wild from that and I got orders straight away.’
Growing up in the nineties, which Soozi is ever-grateful for, has meant that she has lived through the golden era of Britpop. ‘‘You never experienced waking up and going to buy the album you had been waiting to hear for weeks and weeks, and rushing home to play it. Now it’s just download…The 90s was the last proper sub-culture. It was about being the common-people and being different. Now it’s all about showing off your bling, your contouring, your perfect eyebrows, or you have your ironic hipsters which spend money and work hard to look like a tramp.’
After living in America a few years ago, she returned and noticed the drift of fashion on Topshop mannequins from Kate Moss cool to Americanised hip-hop and the revival of those hacienda neon numbers that Soozi created as a child, and this has now transposed onto our venues and music scene. ‘I think fashion and music have been Americanised, which isn’t always a bad thing because I love Kings of Leon and Johnny Cash, but it shouldn’t be like that because people I know in Italy and Spain are huge anglophiles, they love Britpop and British fashion.’
Stoke throughout the years has been iconic for its sub-cultures and Soozi is sad to see it go unrecognised, ‘We’ve got the Mods and Northern Souls here still, there’s a heritage in Stoke, but it doesn’t get celebrated enough. Like The Soul Boy film that was shot here, and people don’t realise it.’ Manchester has taken over Soozi’s scene, as with a lot of Stokies, ‘The indie crowd are at a bit of loss here now…I used to literally live in The Full Moon and go out in Newcastle but now half the bars are empty…people just sit at home and message their friends instead.’
I’m not going to lie, we talk for a long while about our society of plastics, buying the generic off the hanger look, living through Instagram filters and buying tickets for the Etihad just to show off, rather than due to a genuine love of The Stone Roses. Although Soozi frequently emigrates to Manchester for nights out, as the local venues she once loved have taken a different musical turn, she maintains proud of her home and of her scene. She holds a strong opinion that although we live in this digitally world run by Beyoncé and The Kardashians, indie rock and roll will never be amiss. ‘It never really dies, it goes underground, but it comes back. That’s the beauty of it. It was always meant to be alternative, it’s meant to be against the grain of society.’
Indie rock and roll is a way of life that Soozi will champion until her last breath. With dreams of becoming the female version of Pretty Green, starting with her next step- mod scarves, Songbyrd will remain as an alternative, independent choice for true-hearted indie kids. It will never be controlled, it will never be commercialised, it will never be on the mannequins of Topshop, ‘You know somethings gone wrong if you see Beyoncé wearing my clothes.’