In Conversation with Ellen Brookes

We shine a light on one of our most-loved partner brands Sideline. We're hugely grateful to designer and founder Ellen Brookes for sharing her inspirations and motivations behind the brand.

Written by Jenny Garcia

Maze has long been a destination shop for lovers of good quality, individual pieces who appreciate not only the end product, the store's curation and paired back aesthetic, but also the heritage and provenance of these pieces. Maze prides itself on partnering with independent brands and businesses that also live eat, and breath this ethos.

This week in the journal we’d like to shine a light on one of our more recent partner brands at Maze, Sideline, designed and founded by Ellen Brookes. It was such a pleasure to be able to put the following questions to Ellen. We’re hugely grateful to her for sharing her time, inspirations, motivations, opinions on sweet eats and some rather brilliant reading, viewing and listening suggestions. Why not grab a brew and enjoy.

Spotlight on Sideline

A conversation with Ellen Brookes - Designer and Founder of Sideline

When did you realise you were creative and had a passion for textiles and clothing?
I grew up in a very creative household. My mum was an art teacher and ceramicist; my Dad was a lecturer in film and media and my Grandad is a painter. I’m the first one to go into textiles, though. From a young age I liked creating things that were 3D and functional.

What inspires you in life and work?
I find inspiration in so many places: People, art, vintage textiles, interiors. Ideas come to me when I have time to be out on the South Downs. It’s my favourite thinking place.

Could you talk us through your creative process? 
I always start with fabric which usually informs the colour palette. Then I start sketching. Not everything I design makes the cut and I spend a lot of time going over each piece to ensure it is special, and authentically Sideline.

Which part of the process do you like the best….?
I love designing but I also love the photoshoot. Working with so many talented people and seeing the collection come together makes all the hard work worthwhile!

A conversation with Ellen Brookes - Designer and Founder of Sideline

A conversation with Ellen Brookes - Designer and Founder of SidelineWW

Do you wear your own designs?
Yes! I also wear the early samples to see how they work within my wardrobe, with my existing pieces, and how they fit into everyday life. I like clothing to be both functional and make you feel good.

Favourite Brands?
Chapter Two shoes always work with Sideline and I have used them in many of our photoshoots. Likewise, Kitty Clogs. They’re both small, local brands I love! Apart from Sideline, I wear a lot of vintage pieces - Wolf and Gypsy in Brighton always has a great selection and is beautifully curated. My studio’s freezing so I’m also a big fan of M&S thermals!

What made you decide to partner with Maze?
Maze approached me as they felt Sideline would compliment their current mix. It’s really important to me that when I work with a new shop, it’s the right fit for both of us. Maze is perfect. And they’re such nice people to work with!

What are you reading and watching?
I’ve just watched Maid on Netflix which I loved. On the recommendation of many people, I have just started Succession. I often struggle to find the time to read but I have Salley Rooney’s Beautiful World, Where Are You and Patti Smith’s Year of The Monkey on the (slow) go at the moment.

How would your friends describe me in three words?
Happy. Smutty. Busy.

A conversation with Ellen Brookes - Designer and Founder of Sideline

What do you eat for breakfast?
Usually toast and marmite. Sometimes a protein smoothie with a banana because I have weirdly low protein levels.

What’s the best and not so best thing about running your own business?
Creative Freedom vs Constant Worry

Biscuits or Cake?
Not bothered by either. I’d rather have chocolate!

Tea or Coffee?
Hot chocolate!

What was your favourite piece in your autumn winter collection?
I’m a denim fan so last season's denim was my favourite. I’m really proud of the steps towards producing more sustainable denim we have made as a small brand.

A conversation with Ellen Brookes - Designer and Founder of Sideline

A conversation with Ellen Brookes - Designer and Founder of Sideline

Tell us about your SS22 collection?
I think it might be my favourite season to date. The collection includes many really easy to wear dresses featuring special Sideline detailing such as unique embroidery and prints. We also have some great jacket options which are always popular with our loyal customers - quilting, embroidery and of course reversible. As mentioned previously, our denim is always an area where we strive to be as sustainable as possible, using organic and recycled fibres and cutting edge technology to eliminate water wastage and harmful chemicals, this season we are also introducing natural dyes made from clay.

Cat or Dog?
I have a cat, kitten and a dog – I will get in trouble with my kids if I chose one over the other - so both!

5 Year plan or get through the day?
5 Year Plan

Favourite Podcast?
Adam Buxton is always fun and an easy listen, I generally like the people he chooses to interview and the conversations are often thought provoking but also very funny. I also really like Ear Hustle which is a podcast based out of San Quentin prison - each episode deals with a different element of prison life – it can be hard listening but generally it’s very life-affirming.

A conversation with Ellen Brookes - Designer and Founder of Sideline

How do you relax?
Running on the Downs and hot baths.

Best life advice?
Cherish every moment with your kids, time moves so fast. It’s hard to remember this in everyday life but it's so true… in a flash I suddenly have a teenager and I know soon enough she won’t want anything to do with me. Luckily I still have the animals ;)

Urban or rural?
Rural (but not too far from Urban)

A conversation with Ellen Brookes - Designer and Founder of Sideline

A conversation with Ellen Brookes - Designer and Founder of Sideline

Finally, could you tell us what led you to calling your brand Sideline?
When I launched Sideline I was already working in the design industry as a designer and consultant, this was my day job and security. I decided to start a clothing line that was true to my ethics and aesthetics but this had to be on the side of my existing work so the name Sideline was born. I recently took the leap to focus on Sideline exclusively but won’t be changing the name to Full-time!

Thank you so much Ellen. We certainly feel we’ve got to know this ‘effortlessly stylish and softly confident’ brand a little better, Sideline's SS22 collection is now available to shop in stores and online.

Shop Sideline SS22 Collection now

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