Meet the artists: Leslyn Fraser, A F R O F L Y / 9

Deptford Foundry
3 months ago

With the commercial space of our Deptford Foundry development, being completed and handed over to Second Floor Studio & Arts, we have been getting to know our new artistic neighbours that are now calling Deptford home as they set up their new studio space.

Meet Leslyn Fraser, a freelance footwear designer who has brought together her love of art and creativity with her passion for fashion to launch her own business, A F R O F L Y / 9.

Can you tell us about your journey?

Throughout my childhood I was very creative; drawing and painting. I studied art and design at school and college then completed a foundation course at Wimbledon School of Art where I was introduced to a variety of artistic disciplines. I found an ever-growing love for painting, sculpture and bold 3D creative work.

I undertook a fashion module on my course, not thinking I would want to be a designer, I thought it might be quite flat and not appealing. However, we did a shoe design project and I absolutely loved it! It merged my love for sculpture and fashion into 3D creative design.

After a lot of support from the fashion module tutor, I then went on to do a HND in footwear and accessories at Cordwainers College - which is now part of the London college of fashion.

Once I finished at Cordwainers, I freelanced before getting into a full-time job and reverted to painting in my spare time. This is when I started renting a studio space so I could really develop my art ideas. After ups and downs of career life I wanted to be independent and live a different kind of lifestyle, so I became a freelancer again.

At the same time, I started a footwear accessories line, inspired by my art and painting called A F R O F L Y / 9. It’s been five years now and I’m absolutely loving it!

Can you tell us about your products, designs and inspiration?

Most of my design work is in women’s footwear, anything from high street fashion to helping someone start their own premium shoe collection. I design all types of footwear - fashion sneakers, high heel shoes, sandals, flats… everything really. I absolutely love the whole process from concept to final product.

Depending on individual client needs I can work with them on the concept, mood boards, hardware design, materials sourcing, colours palettes, and so on. Some clients want just sketches, others may only need tech packs, each project is so different from the last. I hand draw or CAD.

I’m really lucky as get to travel the world for inspiration, visiting factories and trade shows, sourcing materials and overseeing the sampling. I’ve visited Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan and all over Europe. I really want to go to Korea for inspiration next.

What drew you to the Deptford Foundry project with Second Floor Studio & Arts?

I’ve had four or five studios in the past ran by art collectives but had to move a lot due the buildings eventually being redeveloped or sold by the landlord. It’s a pain, constantly moving, you don’t feel settled and it felt like you were always waiting for the landlord to move us on.

I live in New Cross and have always wanted to stay local and the SFSA studios are perfectly located. What’s more there is a 250-year lease meaning this studio is actually now like a home!

I love how SFSA plan work within the local community connecting studio members with projects in the area. I love the idea of being immersed and involved in the community. It’s also great that the studio space is brand new, it’s mine to call home.

What do you like most about Deptford?

As I mentioned, I live in nearby New Cross and Deptford is part of the neighbourhood too, they are so close. I love the community spirit in Deptford, it still has its street market and there is such a mix of backgrounds and cultures from everywhere.

I was born and raised in London and the variety of people here is definitely the best part of being a Londoner!

What does home mean to you?

Home is family, roots, having a connection and being free to be me. Wherever I feel these things, I am at home.

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To find out more about A F R O F L Y / 9, visit:

shoe accessories website: https://afrofly9.com

Freelance design website: leslynfraser.tumblr.com

Social media: Instagram @afrofly_afrofly

Twitter: @afrofly

Looking for a creative area to set up home? If so, then Deptford Foundry could be the place for you: 020 7526 9229 / deptfordfoundry@anthology.london