Interview with Sovereign Collection: Queer Latina Owned Shoe Accessory Brand

Sovereign Collection’s shoe accessories are nothing like we have seen before. Unique and fashion-forward, the Sovereign Collection shoe accessory line is a brilliant way to make any shoe look like a one-of-a-kind, luxury designer piece.

Born from a passion for self-expression, self-curation, and independent culture, Sovereign Collection is a reflection of a deep commitment to designing and hand making accessories that positively promote the emotional power of style.

Sovereign Collection was founded in 2016 by Veronica Eulate, a free-thinking and style autonomy advocate. As a Latin-American, Australian, queer woman who has always identified as an andro-femme, Veronica is passionate about the politics of visibility and the expression of identity through style. She also believes you don’t have to kill the earth to have killer style.

Sovereign Collection is an intersectional brand dedicated to lived experience and the aesthetics of courage. Eulate states, “I believe that what you wear and how you wear it has the power to transform and reclaim the ideas and emotions that make you who you are in the moment. When you command a space to express your truest self, you inadvertently create a space for others beyond yourself. And we all benefit from less restricted, less oppressive, more life-affirming spaces in the world.

I want to contribute to a dialogue that seeks to put an ethical and human-centered approach to the heart of style and that normalizes difference. This isn’t about following trends or consuming more, it’s about becoming conscious of the choices and statements we make and why. It’s about a redefinition of the ‘body’ into ‘somebody’ and the expression of identity through style.”

dapperQ talked more with Eulate to learn more about her innovative designs and what inspires her work.

dapperQ: Can you tell me a bit about the history and evolution of Sovereign Collection? What motivated you to start the brand?

Eulate: During my time learning bespoke shoemaking, I fell in love with the experience of being able to create something that not only reflected a piece of myself, but that could be re-imagined and transformed by others into something that embodies their own values, experience and presence. The process of custom shoe design is a truly intimate thing so I wanted to create a product that allowed people to customize the look of their shoes without always having to buy a new pair of shoes.

The idea of transforming shoes became a fixation that led me to create my first accessories collection, The Vanguard Collection, which is a range of shoe accessories made primarily from leather offcuts.

Throughout the process of building Sovereign Collection, I continuously reflected on my own experience of style, what it has meant to me and how it has evolved over the years. Building the brand has been an incredible tool for me to better understand the real value and meaning behind why self-expression, beyond verbal language, is so important to humanity.

My lived experience as a queer person absolutely filters into my style choices and connects me to a cultural lineage I feel proud to be descended from. Our community elders subverted and reclaimed the very ideas and concepts that threatened their existence by creating cultural codes and stylistic expressions out of social transgressions.

Using style was a language they used, and we still use today, to find each other, connect and celebrate a shared view of the world. Queer style has become emblematic of pride, protest and independence. It’s this kind of boldness to life that inspires Sovereign Collection. I want to celebrate the personal expression of people who refuse to be anything but themselves.

Style has always been a part of my daily experience in questioning how I want to show up in the world; to how I want to be seen and read; to how I want to claim power in a world that continuously pressures us to be something else. I believe everyone has their own experience of this and I want to discover the stories and inspirations behind this.

dapperQ: How would you describe the Sovereign Collection aesthetic?

Bold. Courageous. Unapologetic. Proud.

dapperQ: What inspires your designs?

Eulate: What really excites me in my process is looking at product design with an evolutionary lens, meaning that traditional designs can always be taken to another level if you apply new insights and perspectives to your practices. I’m quite fond of subverting traditional ideas so I think this way of thinking is instilled in my current designs and what I’m planning for the future.

We’re moving into an era where more people are interested in intellectual forms of beauty. Traditional forms of beauty are still pervasive but I think more and more of us are wanting to blend and experience an authentic integration of humanity with what we see, wear and consume.

The era of superficial, one-dimensional consumerism is getting challenged and I’d like to think I inject that into my designs. I’m motivated to create designs that are less focused on the who and what, and more focused on the why. The why behind people’s choices is what I want to connect with. I’m more interested in playing with the balance, form and character of a design and what it can offer in terms of creative and artistic expression for all people, rather than be confined to gender based stereotypes.

I’m most inspired by individuals and communities who thrive in systems that weren’t designed for them. Their strength, courage and resilience motivates me and my work. For me, queer style is the lived experience of this; it’s a visual story of survival. My designs are a tribute to the symbolic gestures behind queer style and culture and all the nuanced forms of communication that create communities.

dapperQ: Many of our readers have problems finding masculine, androgynous, and/or gender neutral shoes that fit them properly. How does Sovereign Collection address this issue for readers not familiar with your brand?

Eulate: Sovereign Collection offers a range of shoe accessories that are transformative to shoe style which means you don’t need a lot of different shoes to change your everyday style. You can extend the life of pre-loved shoes, like a favorite pair of Oxford brogues or Derby’s, by tying on some Sovereign accessories. You can also use our accessories on sneakers to take your cult loving street style to the next level. We’re about working with what you’ve got and extending and elevating their potential.

dapperQ: How does Sovereign Collection stand out from some of the other “menswear”-inspired shoe brands that have launched over the last few years?

I’m very inspired and a fan of many of the masculine-inspired shoe brands that have come to life in the last few years. I am not making or selling shoes so I’m different in that regard. I’m making accessories that go on to shoes to elevate and extend their style.

As an independent brand, I’m not associated with a shoe brand or footwear company so I have no shoe selling agenda and I offer a product that offers a collaborative approach to shoe design for those with a dapper and style positive sensibility.

My brand offers a handmade, sustainably produced product that can totally change the look and feel of shoes. You can get various looks out of just one pair of lace ups.

dapperQ: How would you describe your personal everyday style(s)?

Eulate: I often describe myself and my style as andro-femme. I’ve always been quite fluid in my stylistic expression and not really committed to any one way of being or wearing clothes. If anything, I focus more on blending styles and accessories from across a gender spectrum that highlight shape, color and form, rather than anything else.

My styles, as they evolve are a reflection of my approach to life, which is to do and wear the things that nourish my sense of self based on my trajectory and what I am in control of, not anyone else’s. I don’t like sitting in any one style of dressing to be honest, there are too many versions of me to stay in one ‘look’ but I have to say that I really appreciate when others are loyal to, or have a look, that is so inherently them.

dapperQ: Has it been a journey defining your own personal style?

Eulate: My personal style has always been essential in the way I claim agency in the face of societal norms that don’t serve or nourish my sense of self. While today I am proud of my difference, and the style I embody to communicate this, as a young person, I definitely struggled with the oppressive role of clothing, specifically the relationship between clothes and gender and how this played out in society.

Raised in the US in a bi-cultural environment, (I’m a first-generation of Bolivian parents) I always felt constrained by the strict and static gender expectations in both cultural spaces. Taking an alternative approach to style was critical in the evolution of my queer identity and I sought to question everything as I journeyed to find my truth. Anyone who feels they sit outside the norm knows it doesn’t take much to see how easily you get punished and rewarded for how you present in the world. Especially if you come from a Latino background. The things I tried to suppress are now the very things I am so proud of. I am a product of intersectionality and I try to draw awareness to myself about that all the time and remember that multiple versions of me can be true and real.

It’s taken a long time not just to acknowledge the role that style has played in my life but to actually honor it. I think it’s easy to dismiss style as something that is superficial and vacuous, particularly when people think of it as synonymous to fashion. For me fashion is a reflection of an institution that radically needs to change, whereas style is a reflection of the heart. I think when you’re in touch with your truth, you make decisions accordingly. You look for the soul in your choices, rather than the ego-driven, and that has the power to not only transform ideas and experiences but to change how we consume and use resources.

This is one of the things that makes being a part of our diverse communities so special. We have a shared experience of creating self-defined spaces where we can truly see each other, and be seen, on our own terms. Where we can write ourselves in. For some of us, we literally wear our heart on our sleeves and I’m so proud of this.

My commitment to style autonomy is based on a belief that all people have a right to wear what they want, when they want, and how they want, at all times and should never feel fear or stigma for their style choices. The only style rules that exist are those that belong to the individual and they do not need to justify those choices to anyone, ever. On the token, I think we should all celebrate style that may be different to our own, whether alternative or normative, because we all have stories to tell and style can be an important expression of this.

dapperQ: Who or what has most influenced your personal style?

Eulate: Although influenced by a broad range of communities, music and art movements alike, I think a shared characteristic across all these influences is that they come from an ethos of non-conformity and challenging a status quo. The truth is, I think style has more to do with values and attitude more than anything.

I’m very passionate about the politics of visibility and the sense of freedom we get when we align our politics and identity with self-expression through style. For me, showing up each day in alignment between how I look and how I feel is important to how I communicate with the world. This is the value system that drives my personal style, often above and beyond the materiality of it. The clothing and objects have a symbolic power that I absolutely like to play with for sure but creating my personal style, which is fluid, is mostly a constant celebration of my self-determination.

dapperQ: Who are your fashion icons?

Eulate: My inspirations tend to lean towards gender non-conforming icons across the spectrum from performative players like Leigh Bowery, RuPaul, Grace Jones, and David Bowie to Tilda Swinton, Casey Legler and artists like Kim Gordon, PJ Harvey, and Beth Ditto. I’m also deeply influenced by community elders and artists who’ve paved the way in even more arduous times, like Josephine Baker, Frida Kahlo, Claude Cahun, Chavela Vargas and Gladys Bentley.

dapperQ: What is the one article of clothing you cannot live without?

Eulate: There is no one piece of clothing I can’t live without. What I can’t live without is the process of reinvention and transformation.

dapperQ: What can we expect next from Sovereign Collection?

Eulate: As a new brand, I’m pretty excited about bringing my shoe accessories to the world. I’m currently working on another range due to come out later this year as I have a lot of ideas I’m working on. But what I plan for Sovereign Collection is beyond the accessories themselves. While my products are emblematic of independence, the mission behind my work is to celebrate the aesthetics of courage and the people who refuse to be anything but themselves. I have plans to bring these stories to life and am really excited to share these with the world as they roll out.

Channels to stay connected:
Instagram: @sovereigncollection

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