Matthew L. Paul and Julia Ford from Sweepstake Winners. Image supplied.
Julia Ford and Matthew L. Paul are the duo behind colourful new clothing brand Sweepstake Winners. They have taken a modern approach to their label offering playful pieces that are mostly unisex with suiting, tees retro-inspired sportswear and silk scarves in their debut collection. The idea for their label came about while the duo were on a reflective holiday in Thailand and wanted to create pieces that they loved and a brand that could help make a positive difference.
We caught up with Julia and Mattthew to find out more about their range, what inspires them and what you would never catch them wearing.
Tell us about your latest collection?
Our latest collection is actually our first collection! Our first collection is kind of like the first song on a record; the song that sets the tone for what is to come. We spent a lot of time going over what we were going to be about, and in a sense what really came through is that feeling like a ‘sweepstake winner’ was what we wanted to evoke in our designs; its kinda how we feel being together and making stuff together — a real blessing. The brand name was inspired by the Bob Marley lyric “when we bend new corners, we feel like sweepstake winners” so this collection is about making our mark, seeking to do things in new and better ways. We were digging on stuff that was an expression of happiness, joy and self-acceptance and celebration.
What made you become designers?
I think Julia was pretty much born a designer. One of those rare cases where the talent has always been there, just kinda sitting underneath the surface until it starts to be nurtured in the right way. She’s been designing for years and years. For me, I definitely think of myself as a musician first and foremost, but this is a way to stretch myself and I guess be a bit more of a background player — which was attractive after taking music so seriously for almost 10 years.
Look by Sweepstake Winners from their debut collection.
What inspires you?
For me the thing that inspires me most is basic human goodness and kindness. I feel like it’s kind of a rebellious act to hold true to that sort of thing these days, so when I see it, I get pretty overcome by it and want to do things that embody that. That includes with the clothes. I can’t speak for Julia but she is that kind of person in a very pure way, so she definitely inspires me too! When it comes to shared stuff, we are both suckers for most things 70s; graphics, music and just the feeling that you get from looking at stuff from that time in history. Sun-drenched, easy going, celebratory… that’s the kind of music we generally veer towards as well.
Describe your personal style/s and how it influences your designs?
Julia would definitely describe her style as maximalist, fun colours, bold prints and that sort of thing. Her style is really her own. For myself, I’m more rooted in the classics; suiting, athletic wear, pretty much anything in life is about the feeling for me. I think the Sweepstake Winners range is a happy blend of those two approaches.
What is your all-time favourite purchase?
That’s a hard one! Not really clothes related but a couple years back I bought a Mellotron which is the instrument that The Beatles used, you can hear it on stuff like “I Am The Walrus” or “Strawberry Fields Forever”. Julia is a handbag fanatic (I won’t get in trouble for saying that) and when we were in Tokyo a couple years back she fell in love with a limited edition Gucci handbag only available in that store. It was pretty funny, I had been out looking at some other stores and then walked in (not looking very Gucci myself) and found her in the gallery, surrounded by shop assistants being treated to dark chocolates and blood orange juice, pretty hilarious! It was a special trip for us and I feel like that bag is kinda special to both of us in a lot of ways.
Looks by Sweepstake Winners from their debut collection.
What wardrobe item should everyone invest in?
A good coat. Without a doubt. We love coats.
Do you have a style rule you always obey?
Say no to jandals.
What has been the highlight of your career/s so far?
I think the fact that we actually got Sweepstake Winners off the ground! We’ve been together for 6 years and it’s been something that’s always been part of our dream, but we did so much learning to get ourselves to a point where we felt we could do it, and having this idea of what we’re about and what we stand for. It’s easy to think of us having set this up as a ‘business’ in a year or so, but in reality the story goes way deeper than that. It’s the story of us. I’m really filled with pride for Julia and in a way myself, but it’s more pride for us. That feeling is what we’re going for with our clothes, when you’re just out there giving it your all and the world is coming at you hard — but you get there. That’s being a sweepstake winner.
Then in a more traditional way, we recently got surprised seeing NZ’s own soul brother Stan Walker styled in our Bobby suit for the latest UberEats commercial. Or our friend Nick Franciss wearing the Bobby suit to South Africa soon; he’s competing in Mr Gay World over there, but more than that I’m just proud that such a beautiful and kind person connects with the brand, out there and winning at their own lives despite the odds. He carries a lot of soul too. That’s kinda the dream, to have people wearing our clothes who really believe in the same stuff we do. Just basic kindness, having a positive outlook, looking out for one another (including those that make our our clothes) and not being scared to be different. Julia, I think somewhere inside, is pleased to see New Zealand males wearing something other than navy/charcoal suits… it didn’t take long!
What can’t you live without?
I think anyone knows us would agree it’s our baby, Syd the Frenchie (and music in the house).
Follow @sweepstakewinners on Instagram.