Style File: Sue O’Kane from Lemon Tree Design

Style File Sue O'Kane Lemon Tree Designs

Sue O’Kane, Designer from Lemon Tree Design. Image supplied.

Sue O’Kane is the founder and designer of Lemon Tree Design which is the label she founded here in NZ after a 30 year career in the fashion industry in the UK. Sue is a third generation fashion maker and designer and grew up with fashion in her blood. It’s an industry she’s still deeply passionate about and she’s excited her womenswear brand Lemon Tree Design will be making its New Zealand Fashion Week debut later this month.

We caught up with Sue to find out more about her brand, what inspires her and what you would never catch her wearing!

Tell us about your latest collection?
Beautiful Summers. The joy I feel for a Kiwi summer comes as a contrast to the drizzly wet summers in the North East of England. Family get-togethers, BBQ’s with friends and outside lunches with your besties are a few inspirations for my latest SS19 collections. Bright sunny colours to make you smile with the softest natural fabrics that are cool and breathable on the hottest of days.

What made you become a designer?
My parents owned several garment factories in the North East of England, manufacturing for the largest UK stores during the 1980s. Designing from the age of 17, I was fortunate enough to be selling my collections to the most influential buyers in the country with a buying spend of millions. I learned very quickly how to be a “Commercial Designer,” if our styles didn’t have an exceptional sell-through in store, we would have no orders next season! Four hundred fifty machinists would lose their jobs. It certainly keeps you very focused.

That same passion drives me still. I love this industry, it’s in my blood!

What inspires you?
My customers inspire me. It is the lady who walks into my stockists, sees a Lemon Tree garment hanging amongst many others, she is attracted by what she sees first, she feels the beautiful fabric and looks at our incredible quality. She is already visualizing where she will wear this outfit, on a special occasion, an overseas holiday, maybe a lunch with friends or the BBQ this weekend. She flipped over the label and realized its easily within her price range, making her next decision very simple.

Style File Sue O'Kane Lemon Tree Designs

Looks from Lemon Tree Design’s Spring/Summer 2019 collection.

Describe your style and how it influences your designs?
My style is the same as my Lemon Tree customer. We all have demands on our precious time with family, careers and busy lifestyles. Our clothes and personal style should reflect this. They should be beautifully made, perform well, and most importantly, give great value. I believe in purchasing clothing that will make you feel good about yourself.

If you love it, you will love wearing it, be confident, stand tall, and own it.

What is your all-time favourite purchase?
My merino blend cape, I wear on every flight around the world. It’s like having your blanket with you wherever you are. Sean and I spend a great deal of time traveling.

Not only is it very colourful yet fashionable, but it’s also convenient and cozy. Comfort in life, is essential.

What wardrobe item should everyone invest in?
Denim jacket. It will take you anywhere and last for years. Keep it classic and short; This will lengthen the legs and give you a waist. You can wear with jeans when the weather is cooler and sleeveless dresses in the summer. Keep it casual and relaxed to reflect your lifestyle.

Do you have a style rule you always obey?
No – Clothes are like art, you don’t need to explain it to anyone – If you like it, wear it.

Be confident, with your style at all time.

Style File Sue O'Kane Lemon Tree Designs

Looks from Lemon Tree Design’s Spring/Summer 2019 collection.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?
1990 – Lucky enough to design men’s shirts with Ray Kelvin of Ted Baker UK.
1992 – Honored to design the ceremonial outfits for the 1992 British Olympic Games.
2019 – Excited to be showing Lemon Tree Design at New Zealand Fashion Week.

What can’t you live without?
My family!

Finish this sentence – You would never catch me wearing…
Anything that didn’t make me happy!

Images supplied.

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