Yes I'm opening a SHOP! I've got to know Paula Beaumont who owns the only-eco-fashion-shop this side of Brighton and indeed London, Purity. It happens to be in my nearest town, Farnham. Paula sells brands like People Tree and Kiyuchi in her shop and she wanted to do something more luxurious on her first floor. So, thanks to a series of fortuitous events, it all came together that I'm going to have a kind of concession for my work on her first floor. However, I have always wanted to show other people's work and so I'm going to get in work from other designers who, like me, produce in the UK on an artisan scale, have a strong sustainable credentials and who are also fashion led and luxurious, in a deeper way than 'notable luxury labels'. Yikes that was a long sentence, 'scuse the grammar just so much to say.
So, with that in mind I scoured the market place for designers who fitted these criteria. It's astonishing how few there are who make in the UK. Making in the UK is important for me for a number of reasons. Firstly there is the much smaller carbon footprint compared to more Fair Trade products which are generally made in countries such as India and Africa. Secondly, there is the connection with the makers and skills which are precious. And finally, it's the small-scale, slow fashion that I want to champion. I can't confirm all the designers til I get my orders in and this will take a while but I'm delighted to have ordered some fabulous knitwear from Makepiece. However, the credentials and the traceability are not enough, I need strong fashion-led clothing that looks stunning.
Makepiece is owned by Beate Kibutz, who I met at London Fashion Week. Beautiful dresses, cardigans, scarves all designed and made in the Penines. So, on my holiday to Yorkshire this August I made a detour to the delightful shop, workshop and even.. I visited the sheep:
Beate works alongside her business partner, Nicola, who is the designer. They work with interesting signature knits, which are unique. There is something very special about their approach which is very tightly sustainable from using their own sheep (Shetland) and turning it into yarn and sometime buying in British wool (Blue-faced Leicester), designing and making in-house.. here it is behind the shop:
I'd love to have a workshop out the back of my shop but sadly it's hard to find the skill-set for quality outerwear making and I'm not sure I can lure Neil to South West Surrey, so I shall have to continue to trek up to Edmonton. At least it's not India and China; a trip round the M25 has a lower carbon footprint.
So, lots more news on the shop will be forthcoming, as will the menswear project. Look out for it in the next few posts. In the meantime, I'm very excited about the Makepiece pieces that are being made up as I write.