I started my own fashion brand with £20 in lockdown - now it's worn by celebs including Mia Regan

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Shortly after student Izzy Astley took up sewing as a hobby in lockdown, she launched her own fashion label with just £20 and no Instagram followers. 

Four years later, Shop Izzy Astley has come a long way from those humble lockdown beginnings, and Izzy has built up a considerable customer base, including a fair share of celebrities and influencers.

In its early days, Shop Izzy Astley sold from an account on fashion marketplace Depop, but the label now has a shiny new dedicated website. Profits have grown by 25% year-on-year, and 3,000 Instagram followers now eagerly await drops and launches. 

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Izzy, who has just finished her first year in fashion marketing at The University of Manchester, said: “It was lockdown. I was feeling quite bored, as we all were, and there was the Urban Outfitters lace cami trend.” 

Student Izzy Astley has seen her fashion brand take off.Student Izzy Astley has seen her fashion brand take off.
Student Izzy Astley has seen her fashion brand take off. | Izzy Astley

The 2000s-style vest tops were constantly sold out, so Izzy’s mum suggested she try sewing one herself to tackle the lockdown boredom if anything else. Izzy purchased £20 worth of material - enough to make several tops - and got sewing. She showed the final result to her friends, who loved them.

She said: “I thought, why shouldn't I post them on Depop and see if I can get some money because I didn't have very much money. Within about 10 minutes of uploading one, it sold, and then another one sold, and it went from there.”

When the lace cami trend “died”, Izzy moved onto velour Y2K low-rise trousers, which proved hugely popular with customers. The business grew further when several celebrities and influencers posted on social media wearing the trousers.

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One of those was Gen Z fashion influencer and model Mia Regan, who regularly posts fashion content to her 631,000 Instagram followers.  Regan, 21, is also known for her high-profile on and off relationship with David Beckham’s son Romeo Beckham. She is also close to Victoria Beckham and recently collaborated on a capsule collection with the Spice Girl and fashion designer.

Romeo Beckham and Mia Regan attend The Fashion Awards 2023Romeo Beckham and Mia Regan attend The Fashion Awards 2023
Romeo Beckham and Mia Regan attend The Fashion Awards 2023 | Getty Images

Izzy said: “Mia Regan was the first influencer I sent to. It was quite a big shock as to how powerful influencer marketing is. Then she took them on a holiday trip to LA, which was cool, and Romeo Beckham was in the picture she posted.”

Izzy’s garments have also been seen on American actress and model Larsen Thompson, who has almost two million followers across TikTok and Instagram. British content creator Gabby Martin and Irish influencer Emma Neil - both known for their cool girl styles - have also posted on social media wearing Izzy's designs. 

In addition to capitalising on industry trends, Astley said she takes a lot of inspiration from “my mum’s wardrobe”. Trousers from the 80s and 90s looted from this treasure trove, she said, formed a basis for her own trouser designs.

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Izzy’s recent best-selling Bon Bon collection was inspired by a Stussy Sista striped jersey beanie her mum had purchased years ago, which Astley had nabbed for herself at some point. Currently, Izzy said the label's focus is on comfort - pieces you can pull on quickly to go to the shop but also style for a club night. 

Izzy in Bon Bon and her mum's hatIzzy in Bon Bon and her mum's hat
Izzy in Bon Bon and her mum's hat | Izzy Astley

“The start of my business was heavily focused on the 2000s with the lace, low-rise, and fitted look. But I think more recently, I've looked more towards comfort,” she explained.  

Bon Bon encapsulates exactly that with its playful stripey Scandi-style trousers (from £49), shorts (from £32), bandeau tops (from £32), and scrunchies (from £20). The shorts and trousers feature fold-over waistbands so the wearer can decide how to style them.   Izzy still does all the manufacturing and marketing herself, but with such high demand, has she considered outsourcing a supplier?  

“A hundred percent I want to manufacture in the future, but this takes away the speciality that they are handmade,” she said. “This is likely to be a post-university project as it requires a lot of time and money. I am currently searching for the right manufacturer to do this. I would love to get them manufactured in Manchester due to its rich textile history.” 

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Izzy said she would also love for physical stores to stock her clothes once she scales up the business, and she also hopes to do some in-person pop-ups soon. In the meantime, Izzy is excited to bring her brand-new industrial sewing machine to university next year, which she said was far too big to squeeze into halls. Until now, she has used basic flatbed machines and, more recently, an overlocker, which is a slightly more advanced machine.

Slotting sewing machinery into halls is one thing, but how does Izzy balance sewing with student life?

Izzy hard at work sewing at universityIzzy hard at work sewing at university
Izzy hard at work sewing at university | Izzy Astley

“It is tough, especially when I've not fully organised everything, like if I've just switched on the orders on my website and not been on my phone for a day to look at sales. Suddenly, I’ve got 20 things to get out, and I've also got three pieces of coursework due,” said the 21-year-old.

However, Izzy added that she has learnt from her mistakes and will “always prioritise uni because I’m paying for it and it’s important”. Having fun is also important, and Izzy said much of her first term was spent making friends and getting to know Manchester.  Friendship Inn and Studio Bar have become two of her locals.

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Izzy added that while people might still see London as the main fashion hub, Manchester has a lot going on creatively.  Chanel held a catwalk show in the Northern Quarter last December, and Izzy attended the Manchestermodern: Past Present Future exhibition at Victoria Baths following the show. 

“The North is definitely getting recognised as being more of a place for creatives to go,” she added. 

Are there any local celebrities Izzy would like to see in her clothes?

“If I saw Molly-Mae (Hague) walking around Manchester in my trousers, I would die. I would honestly die,” she confessed of the Love Island star.

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Hague, who is engaged to boxer Tommy Fury and lives in Manchester, first gained popularity as a contestant on reality TV show Love Island in 2019 and is now a successful social media influencer and business owner.

If you are feeling creative and think you might have a fashion label in you, Izzy advised: “You’ve just got to do it, even if you don't think it's going to turn into a business. I didn't think it was for me. If you have 20 quid to spare, buy some materials because that can actually go quite far if you do some research.”

And Molly-Mae, if you’re reading this, Izzy would love to send you a pair of trousers.  

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