Few designers embody the spirit of their creations quite like Pam Hogg. Where most brands concoct an enviable lifestyle to push their collections, the roots of Pam’s designs reach deeply into her own experience. Walking on set the day of The Hunger shoot, Pam could easily be mistaken for a rock star, and it’s not too far from the truth. She has always had strong connections to the music world. She was a Blitz kid (Blitz was a legendary London club night put on by Steve Strange), and made her name in fashion by wearing extravagant self-made pieces on the party scene. Her debut collection, launched in 1981, was a response to the demands of admiring clubbers.
Since her first collection, Pam has continued to fit every item to her own proportions. As designer, model, seamstress, and distributor of her work, she has established an integrity fully removed from trend culture, which has propelled her career into its fourth decade. She is her own product, not a manufactured celebrity, but a true artist and a somewhat reluctant icon.
The Hunger: What was it like growing up in Glasgow?
Pam Hogg: There was always music around, a lot of small clubs that I used to go to, but going to the Glasgow School of Art was what really changed everything. I couldn’t believe it when I got there. I’d never seen the use of such different mediums. It was incredible, really inspiring. That, and the actual building itself, which was designed by Rennie Mackintosh – just awesome.
When was it that you moved to London?
A long time ago! I came down to go to the Royal College of Art, which turned out to be nowhere near as inspiring as Glasgow, but being in London late 70s was a real turning point. That’s when I started going to clubs and designing again. If you wanted to get past Steve Strange on the door of Blitz, you had to look good. People used to ask me where I got my clothes, so I started making pieces for friends, and then was asked to share a stand with someone at Olympia. Olympia was the 80s equivalent of the sales presentations at Somerset House but on a larger scale. People were going crazy to get to my stuff, everyone wanted it, probably because it was different. I’m totally self-taught, and I wasn’t following any trends.
After my first collection, I had orders from Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Bloomingdales… But I couldn’t give them the orders they wanted because I was making everything myself. I could only give them enough to display in the shop windows. It’s almost the same today. I have somewhere to produce the collections now, but no finances to set it in motion. A small shop is opening in Portobello soon. The owner used to be a customer at Hyper Hyper, which was where I had my first outlet. One day, I would like my own shop again, then I can stock all my work and have Hoggcouture for the more wearable pieces.
How are you at business?
Designing comes easy and I have a good eye for what sells, but I’m terrible at business. There should be somebody else in place for that. When an investor comes my way, hopefully they can take care of all that.
Are you a perfectionist?
I am. Everything that’s on the catwalk I’ve made myself or with the help of students, but I can only do so much with my limited skills and equipment. I would love to have a team. I’ve never had one. The students I work with can only stay five weeks during a six month period, so I’m in the studio with three, maximum four students every season. It’s intensive learning because they get to do exactly what I’m doing and see every process. They’re not handed a piece of paper with a drawing on it; it comes straight from my thoughts, so it’s quite an experience for them. My dream would be to work in a Parisian Atelier with the expertise of these wonderful, knowledgeable women.
Do you try to swim against the mainstream?
I work by my own rules. I don’t try to be different, I am different, it’s just how I am. It’s quite difficult to explain. I come from an art background and never studied fashion, so I don’t have the hang-ups of feeling I have to do this or that. There is no ‘have to’. I’m freer because I’m only thinking about what I want to create. I just delve into me and get my inspiration from there.
Read more of our exclusive interview in Issue Two of The Hunger, on sale now.
See more of Pam’s designs on her website.