READY-TO-WEAR clothing brand Squint encourages women to embrace their playful side.

The label was founded in 2016 by Edinburgh-born Ellie Vallely, a fashion design and business studies graduate of Brighton University.

After graduating, Vallely returned to her native city and made it her goal to launch her own clothing brand.

Following a short internship with Scottish designer Emily Millichip, she started to turn her dream into a reality.

She says: “I felt so free after university and was so excited to be able to come back to Scotland. I spent my first three months home interning with designer Emily Millichip and during this time I started using up leftover fabric from my graduate collection to start my business.”

After being nominated in the Creative Edinburgh Awards, Vallely took the plunge and officially launched Squint.

An advocate of individuality, she distinguishes her brand through offering an inclusive approach to fashion. Not only does Vallely cater for women of all shapes and sizes, but she works to portray a realistic expectation of the ideal “Squint Girl”.

She explains: “The Squint Girl’s attitude is laid back and cool but a bit weird – the misfit that you want to hang out with. Her personality is the basis of the clothes we create.”

To achieve the Squint Girl look, Vallely combines femininity with tomboy silhouettes, creating a playful, down-to-earth aesthetic. Playfulness remains at the heart of the design and is communicated through shape, colour and textile manipulation.

The brand recently launched its first full ready-to-wear collection entitled Take It Easy.

The range was inspired by Vallely’s feeling of freedom and the promise of future prospects after graduating from university.

Vallely cleverly channels the feeling of excitement through frills and smocking in simple fabrics such as linen and cotton jersey. This is met with the contrast of seriousness and nostalgia which is communicated through the use of cotton gingham.

Discussing the range, Vallely says: “The ethos of Take It Easy and Squint is to be aspirational but accessible by balancing short run pieces with lots of handwork and textile manipulation with more affordable pieces.”

To help tell the Take It Easy story, the brand worked with Scottish models who have strong looks and contrasting shapes.

Vallely’s playful approach to design has captured the attention of Scotland’s fashion industry. In 2017 she won Online Newcomer at The Herald Fashion Awards and has also been selected as part of the Fashion Foundry’s 2017/18 Emerging Designers programme.

Vallely says: “My plans for the near future are celebrating everything I have achieved on the Fashion Foundry programme with an exhibition in the Lighthouse opening in April that will showcase my new collaborative collection with Alice Dansey-Wright called Organised Fun. Further on from there I am hoping to continue to grow Squint as a Scottish brand internationally.”