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Sass & Bide… Behind the Sequins
The label Sass & Bide has become fashion royalty in Australia and acclaimed worldwide, exhibiting once again at New York Fashion Week 2010. MyWearWeather explores the road to success, for the once-market stall owners Sarah-Jane Clarke and Heidi Middleton.
Two peas in a fashion pod; self-confessed non-paternal sisters Sarah-Jane “Sass” Clarke and Heidi “Bide” Middleton have enjoyed the heightening success of their label Sass&Bide. Launched in 1999, their brand hit the Australian fashion runways to tremendous acclaim, as they exhibited new blood in the cult fashion marketplace.
Ruling the noughties in Australian fashion circles, as well as establishing celebrity status overseas at consecutive New York Fashion Weeks, Sass&Bide has become a coveted fashion empire. The label today boasts three separate ranges including, Sass& Bide, Sass& Bide Denim, and S&B Vie.
The two Australian girls met under humble circumstances, in their local Anglican high school where they became fast friends. The besties, who have never had any formal fashion training, moved to London to pursue their dreams.
Setting up a stall in London’s iconic marketplace Portobello Road Notting Hill, the girls sold their raw creations including altered chain-store jeans.
Confident from their sell out three quarter fringed denim, Middleton and Clarke started their own label. True to their bonds of friendship and matching star tattoos, the concept for the label name found its origins in their childhood nicknames Sass and Bide. As Heidi confesses, “I could never imagine Heidi out of my life!”
Middleton and Clarke with Sarah Jessica Parker The designer duo in head office
A decade on, the edgy clothing label is stocked internationally at top department stores including David Jones, Bloomingdales, Harrods, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols. The girls remain uncannily twin-like, both getting married and having two children within just months apart!
Best friends forever; Childhood besties 'Sass' and'Bide'
However the skyrocketing fashion brand has not been without personal setbacks. Designer Heidi Middleton was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 during the pregnancy of her second child. After a devastating road to recovery, struggling with fashion commitments, chemotherapy and the death of a close friend and fellow cancer-suffer, Middleton returned full-time to the business in 2008.
In dedication to Middleton’s lost friend, Sass&Bide’s 2008 runway show was named ‘Rainbows for Kate’. As Middleton reflected, “The collection really started with a beaded bracelet that I made and gave to Kate. And each coloured bead represented a different emotion… For me she's woven into every piece of that collection.”
Heart-felt dedication: 2008 'Rainbows for Kate' Sass&Bide collection
With yet another successful collection for Autumn/Winter 2010 featured recently in New York Fashion Week, the talented designer duo remain as close as ever. Middleton reflected in a heart felt interview with the ABC, “The experience of 2007, it definitely strengthened Sarah-Jane and my bond. We’ve always been so close, but it’s just taken it down to deeper levels.” And it appears their label is set to reach new heights, with a flagship store rumoured to be opening later this year in New York.