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The Inspirational Women of SW1: Donna Ida Thornton

Fashion designer
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You’re known as the ‘jean queen’ but you’ve recently branched into lifestyle. What was the reason behind the rebrand?

The brand is always developing, it is an evolution, and I like to think about the Donna Ida girl, what she is wearing and what her world is like. We know she loves her denim-based wardrobe with cool separates adding a touch of glamour so it made sense to expand this ethos into a lifestyle collection, which includes our Donna Ida candle and nightwear range.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your career?

To keep evolving. They always say that sharks must keep moving or they die, and I think it is the same in business.

What’s your proudest professional achievement?

Opening the doors to my first boutique was a huge achievement in 2006. In 2012, I launched the Donna Ida brand and the hard work started all over again as I went from a buyer to a product designer. It continues to change for us as the majority of the business is now own brand.

If you could give a piece of advice to your 16-year-old self, what would it be? 

That thick hair is a blessing not a curse – I used to hate it! But really, if I could go back, I would tell myself not to worry, that it will all present itself in time, and that you will instinctively know what to do and who to become.

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What women do you look up to or have inspired you?

I think in fashion it has to be Victoria Beckham as she has worked so hard to grow a successful international fashion brand. I also really admire the Queen for working so hard for the country and being so elegant while doing so! Her recent visit to London Fashion Week showing her support for the British Fashion Council made me so happy.

What’s the best thing about being based on Elizabeth Street and where do you like to go in the area?

I love Elizabeth Street as it is full of beautiful artisan shops, which are all special in their own way. I enjoy being next door to Jo Loves for beautiful perfume and across from Oliveto for the best pizza in town. I also really love all the floral displays on the street including Peggy Porschen and Les Senteurs. For spring this year, we have a special floral display outside the store designed by Dickinson & Doris where colourful flowers burst out of a pair of jeans and continue into a large arch above the window. The idea is that a pair of Donna Ida jeans bring happiness and joy – I couldn’t agree more.

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Donna Ida Thornton