Style Spotlight: Leah Chapman
Style Spotlight: Leah Chapman

Style Spotlight: Leah Chapman

Having spent her childhood on the shop floor of her parents’ Matches Fashion boutique, it’s no surprise Leah Chapman has become a fashion star in her own right. Here, she talks us through her personal style, setting up Issue Twelve and her two unbreakable fashion rules…
By Emma Bigger

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One of my first fashion memories is doing my homework in the stock room of MATCHES. It was my parents’ first fashion boutique in Wimbledon and I remember learning my times tables while surrounded by beautiful designer clothes. As I got older, I worked on the shop floor during my school holidays and that’s where my love of fashion began.

My personal style is minimal and sleek. I love tailoring and boyish clothes that are relaxed and effortless. This translates across all areas of my life, from my wardrobe to the interiors of my home. I can’t think straight with clutter and excess around – it’s too distracting.

I started Issue Twelve because I wanted to design pieces you can throw on without too much effort or styling. Quality is very important to me and I couldn’t find pieces that were simple, easy to style, relaxed and trans-seasonal. I started designing workwear essentials made with great materials and a focus on sustainability.

At its core Issue Twelve is a very classic brand. But I also pay attention to trends and external influences. I take on board influences that work within my creative parameters, and learnt how to take a trend and blend it with my classic aesthetic.

I want to MAKE SLOWER, MORE CONSCIOUS DECISIONS and invest in pieces that will stay in my wardrobe forever.

I’ve always been fascinated by the disparity between men’s and women’s fashion. Men’s clothing has historically been very structured and clean, whereas women’s clothing can be erratic and changes seasonally. I think there is some unconscious sexism rooted in that. I don’t want to take away the fun, but I do want my brand to have structure and consistency with its image.

The modern woman is busy and needs a wardrobe that is effortless. I love to throw something on and feel great and put together. Comfort and wearability are very important to me.

I always invest in forever pieces. I don’t buy clothes that often, but when I do I make sure they are investment pieces I can wear in various ways. I used to have pieces of clothing that would sit in my wardrobe and I would never wear them. Now I’m far more practical and selective when buying clothes. I want to make slower, more conscious decisions and invest in pieces that will stay in my wardrobe forever. 

My wardrobe is a mix of Issue Twelve, Re/Done jeans and Prada. When I want to invest in a timeless piece, I look to brands like The Row. My favourite piece in my wardrobe is the Nina jumper from Issue Twelve – I have it in all the colourways as I wear it every day. It works with everything from trousers to skirts and layered under dresses.

You can never go wrong with black. I think it should form the basis of any capsule wardrobe. But colour always has a place – like print it adds interest and personality to any wardrobe. Pairing a full black outfit with a cobalt blue knit instantly makes it come alive.

My grandmother always looks fantastic and has been a huge influence on my style. Her dress sense is very classic, but she also loves to light up her outfits with playful pieces. This mix makes her outfits inspirational and is why I hold her style in such high esteem.

I admire someone’s style when they are confident and at ease in what they’re wearing. It doesn’t have to be something I would personally wear, I just love seeing someone who feels happy in their own skin and their look. It is about the way they carry themselves and the energy they have. 

When I go out for dinner, I always wear a sleek black trouser suit and a silk shirt. It’s the perfect evening formula. I like to wear out what I can wear during the day and still feel appropriately dressed. Clothes that are multi-tasking are practical and sustainable.

I love Miuccia Prada. I just don’t think she can do anything wrong! I also love Lutz Morris, which is a German luxury accessories label dedicated to craftsmanship, altruism and responsible production. Its bags are incredible. I also recently bought a pair of loafers that I cannot stop wearing. They’re from Hereu – the quality and craftsmanship is incredible.

I just love seeing someone who feels HAPPY IN THEIR OWN SKIN AND THEIR LOOK.

My dream wardrobe would be Julie Christie’s in Don’t Look Now. Everything she wears in that film is flawless, and I would love every single piece hanging in my wardrobe – the tailoring, the knitwear and the outerwear.

London is the ultimate shopping city. We have so many great stores and so many incredible independents. You can walk down small unknown streets and find hidden gems and unique shops. I particularly love browsing on Pimlico Road and Chiltern Street. We also have the best vintage stores.

I have two style rules I swear by. Don’t buy on impulse; and always re-style. Buying on impulse just doesn’t work for me – that’s why I avoid seasonal or trend-led purchases. Each purchase I make has to work long term and not disappear to the back of my wardrobe. Re-styling with new pieces or just looking at things a bit differently means you might fall in love with old pieces all over again. Both of these rules are sustainable and avoid overconsumption.

We must make better choices with our clothing and its environmental impact. We must think about the people making our clothes and their welfare. There are so many brands out there trying to do the right thing while still retaining the excitement of fashion.

Visit and follow @IssueTwelve on Instagram.

Photography by Victoria Adamson.

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