Interview with Erna Leon Stokes

Timeless and sustainable style is at the heart of Style Curator, Erna Leon Stokes’ online womenswear fashion platform, MERCER7. We caught up with her and asked her all about what she looks for when creating a capsule wardrobe, the inspiration behind her online styling business and the differences between London and New York street style.

Tell us a bit about your website and Instagram, MERCER7?

During my maternity leave there were so many times that I would order clothes online and be disappointed with the quality or fit after receiving my order. I also thought that online shopping was becoming a bit saturated with way too many options. So, I decided to create a focussed space with a single aesthetic to make shopping easier for busy women.

MERCER7’s aesthetic is minimal and effortless, with a bit of a rock’n’roll edge. I select the finest pieces that are easy to wear and simple to style, so women don’t have to spend hours on end trying to search for the perfect outfit. It is all about having the ultimate capsule wardrobe where everything just works together and can be styled multiple ways.

I like to think of MERCER7 a bit like an online personal shopper. I collaborate with brands and curate collections from high street to luxury, taking the hassle out of online shopping. Instagram is a very helpful platform to connect with my audience and build a community of likeminded women.

What was the inspiration behind it and how did you set it up?

Having a focus on slow fashion is very important to me, that’s why I only feature clothes that can last for a long time in both quality and aesthetic - representing style rather than trend. It’s about longevity and not throw-away fashion.

I started researching affiliate programs and hired a tech guy back when I started in 2016 to help me build my initial website. I was clueless about it all, so it was definitely a work in progress. Earlier this year, I hired my friend Jess Jenkin to redesign my site and make it a bit more user friendly. I am finally happy with it now!

What were you doing before the site launched?

My background is in fine arts, and fashion was a bit unplanned when I decided to study Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. I started working for different brands and I absolutely loved everything about the design process from initial sketches to draping, fitting and receiving my first samples. I still miss it, but styling and curating collections are just as fun!

Then, after meeting an Englishman in New York, we got married and moved to London. After becoming a mum, I decided to take a career break. Two kids and four years later, I launched MERCER7 so I could be my own boss and work in a flexible way around my family life.

Is there much of a difference in fashion between New York and London?

New York is known for its simplicity and colour black. I think that NY street style is edgy and effortless. London is a bit more experimental. I definitely love and am influenced by both cities.

What’s your favourite thing in your wardrobe right now?

Leather trousers and a cashmere jumper with a pair of Chelsea boots.

Could you tell us a bit about your hashtag #SustainabilityThroughTimelessness?

My mantra for MERCER7 is definitely ‘less is more’. I curate collections that work together seamlessly and allow women to easily build outfits and their own capsule wardrobe of key items for effortless style. It’s all about mindful shopping, a single aesthetic, a focus on versatility, quality and being sustainable by only buying timeless pieces.

What are your top tips for creating a chic and sustainable wardrobe?

  • Consider taking the time to find out which of your favourite high street, or mid-range and designer brands already follow ethical and sustainable practises and aim to support those as you build your capsule wardrobe. You can afford to be picky and to spend a bit more when you will be buying fewer items, less frequently.
  • Know your shape and what suits you and your lifestyle.
  • Don’t buy into trends and instead go for pieces that will last season after season.
  • If you would like to update your wardrobe with few contemporary pieces, accessories always do the trick.

  • What do you look for when shopping for new pieces?

    Remember, keep it simple:
  • Stick to timeless classics
  • Choose high-quality, durable designs that can cope with multiple wears and washes
  • Stay largely monochrome
  • Consider materials that don’t crease
  • Always ask yourself if items you are about to buy, can be styled in multiple ways?
  • What are your favourite items from the Baukjen AW19 collection?

    All your leather trousers are amazing. I also love your knitwear and basics. They wash so well, and I cannot recommend them enough.

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