2021 started with another covid lockdown as we are all aware . The national mood was low and I found it difficult to motivate myself to be creative . I decided that mask making was no longer for me but thankful for all of you who bought them from me , thus allowing me to continue my creative journey .
A new idea was forming in my mind, I had to push myself out of my comfort zone . With this in mind I set about overhauling and modernising my entire business .
Starting with the shop refit . After spending years wishing for one , the enforced shop closures created an ideal opportunity. I had a longed for mezzanine floor built, and happily moved my workshop up there.
The new shop interior
No longer working in a cold and lonely basement I was inspired!
I overhauled my website , Instagram and Facebook pages so they all match each other , and the shop visually . Creating a stronger brand to move forwards into the future.
A re-start grant enabled me to bring together my strongest selling designs into a permanent collection, of which there are going to be at least 1 example of every item , in store for viewing , at all times . This is called my Couture collection and can be seen in the online shop on this website .
Best sellers from my collection
I will add new designs as I go along .
New additions to the collection
To accommodate my recycled and one off items I have created a ready to wear section both instore and online . Here I can continue to put more experimental pieces or lovely vintage re- makes for example.
One off items
Recycled and upcycled
I have a small but pretty selection of hand selected vintage too.
I have an area within the store , Avalanche , which is in Waverly Mall . There , I have vintage , second hand and up cycled items . I've opened a Facebook page called " Old town vintage " to accommodate all of my vintage outlets and offers in one place .
Rails at Avalanche
I've been very lucky in that my customers have supported me with all your likes , shares and purchases . Every single thing is appreciated as always but especially at times like this when nothing is certain. I've had the great pleasure of making some fab made to measures, both from my collection and special designs .
Joanne wears off the peg upcycled dress and made to measure jacket
Renata wears made to measure jacket
Last but not least , I've taken up a new skill . A long awaited ambition , which is traditional kiltmaking . I'm studying it at the fantastic Kiltmakery in Leith , which I highly recommend.
Me with my first finished kilt
I'm not sure exactly where kilt making will take me , but I can say that very soon in the new year I will be able to start offering kilts in my collection from stock and made to measure . I hope you're all going to love them . Watch the Facebook page for the new arrivals very soon .
Kilt making offers many new creative opportunities
Happy new year to all who have read my blog and wish you health and happiness in the year to come. Take very good care of yourselves
With love from Alison x ❤
My shop is my favourite place to be , I would rather be at work than pretty much anywhere else apart from my home .
I moved into this shop in 1996 and when the opportunity to purchase it cropped up a few years later I jumped at the chance .
Its an 1860's B listed Victorian building in the Heart of Edinburgh old town .
My shop is quite small , with only 1 window , but it retains a great deal of its original charm, with an original steel plated door , a big basement and very very high ceilings which must have been useful at the time of building, due to the smoky solid fuel pollution and gas light fumes .
Of course nowadays a ceiling of that height is really more of a memory of the past than a practical feature . The biggest problem I've had with my beautiful 16 foot ceiling is the simple law of physics that heat rises ! Try as I have , with several heaters blasting out 10 months of the year, 90% of the time it has been freezing .
The high ceiling
Another problem for me has been that my workshop is underground. I've spent all those years down there , with no natural light . When I moved in I was young and I didn't care , and as time went on it was just the way things were. However I had always harboured a secret dream of building a new upper mezzanine floor . That dream seemed impossible due to the costs and the amount of time needed to complete such a massive task.
the back area of the shop
So here we are, 2020 and 2021 struck with all its weirdness and unpredictability. As you know I spent a lot of time amongst other things , making masks at home . I literally worked dawn to dusk . It was lonely and sometimes scary but the best thing was that I had windows and natural light.
Returning to the shop I became depressed at the thought of going back into a freezing and messy basement .
One day in February I just woke up and decided now was the time , I was going to build a mezzanine and re fit my shop entirely in time for re opening this summer .
I was lucky to find a great all trades company called JJ Construction Edinburgh , who I had used in the past . The owner , Jacub saw my vision immediately and we were on the same page entirely. He listened carefully then he and his team moved in efficiently to start the job. I designed every tiny aspect of the build as I had spent so many years dreaming about it . Jacub made my vision a reality.
the mezzanine being built
Half way through when everything was a mess I inevitably got that " what have I done " and " I wish I never started " feeling that always accompanies a big job , but the team were great and every time I visited, there was visible progress.
the framework of the mezzanine
the plastering begins
staircase installed and painting begins
After only 5 or 6 weeks , my new shop emerged ftom the building sight and I was super excited to see how beautiful it looked. Just plain and simple , before it was merchandised it reminded me of a mid century Le Corbusier house, and I loved that . I wanted to retain the feeling of the high ceilings and also had to accommodate a full size staircase on the ground floor without losing too much space so the mezzanine is not massive, but just big enough for a workshop.
the basement during the refit everything was stored there
I then needed to undertake the massive task of sorting out the basement, merchandising the sales floor, and most importantly arranging the mezzanine into my new studio. That alone took 2 weeks and im still cleaning up plaster dust!
the staircase now and beautiful oak floor
a fresh and modern look
my beautiful new antique chair
the same mirrors but new curtains
I'm so delighted with it . Its so much bigger , more airy, and brighter . The sales floor is so modern and bright . The workshop is warm and pleasant to use and the basement is , at last a storage space only !
transformed easily into a photography studio
Now , I cant wait to re open and show you all , its an inspiring new start for me . I hope you all love it x
Part 2 of the recycled Kimono Project, in which I discuss my theory and method of making
Well so far , this has obviously been one of the strangest years any of us have experienced. I'm pretty sure almost everyone I know both personally and in business are going through a transitional phase like no other, as we have been shocked into re -evaluating our lives and directions during the Covid crisis , which at the time of writing this is not yet over.
For my business , its been a time of upheaval . Firstly , It was by no means a good winter, sales wise , but I was looking forward to emerging into spring and taking your orders for all the inevitable upcoming special occasions. A few orders were already trickling in for summer weddings and events but during February , as we were becoming aware of the impending crisis they suddenly just stopped . Understandably , with no one sure of what was coming next , and indeed how could any of us have foreseen the next few months.
When lockdown was announced I sat in a spin as I watched all my revenue streams dry up one after the other in a very short period of time.. How was I going to survive ?, as a trading high street shop business was zero. Events cancelled meant no-one buying special outfits , all my teaching classes cancelled , obviously closed doors meant no passing trade , All the shops I supply also closing so no wholesale either. I've never been really on top of selling online so I don't have a lot of website sales. I was totally lost !
I went into survival mode . I packed up all my stuff and moved it into my spare room in my house , where I am lucky enough to have space.
Happy with my little home workshop ( it has a window , which is something I long for in my basement at the shop ) I set it all up . It looked nice so I sat in it and thought "what now ?"
My first thoughts were to try to continue along the same lines making and selling my usual stuff on Facebook. this went ok for a while , as my loyal customers and well wishers snapped up skirts and ponchos etc, both enjoying the discounts I offered and also , I know , in the spirit of supporting me , for which I am very grateful.
A skirt ordered before lockdown and finished at home.
A poncho I sold during the first few weeks
A recycling project I managed to finish
It became obvious however over a short time that the whole thing was going to go on longer than expected, and in order to survive I would need to change strategy.
I decided that the best thing to do would be to create lounge wear concentrating on sustainable organic cotton and linen. This worked quite well , a big departure for me , but quite a few pieces went into the post and I started to think it was something that I could develop into a nice little range , at first , very simple pieces , joggers and dresses but maybe getting a bit more stylish as I learned how to get the most out of the fabric.
The start of making loungewear , a very simple house dress
The very popular 'lockdown apron' , I thought about organic linen bt eventually it was popular in repurposed fabrics
of course , like everyone , I wanted to do my bit . I watched a lot of sewers making masks for charity ,but I reckoned, as my skills are decidedly more advanced , my time was better spent making scrubs for the NHS. Simple things like buying fabric and thread became difficult so I joined a friend of mine , Karen McKay, from Cahoots shop in Portobello, who was organising this. Eventually I spent 2 weeks and made 10 pairs. I was very pleased with that , but obviously I am unable to do charity work full time so I still needed to find a way of making a living.
My scrubs. I was immensely grateful to the NHS
The answer was right in front of me , and it came in the form of facemasks.
I started thinking maybe I would sell a few dozen , and I was till looking for my next direction, but fate had a different story for me and the mask thing exploded. before I knew it I was sewing from dawn till dusk (that's a long time in Scottish summertime ! ) I was making up to and sometimes over 40 masks a day , taking orders , sewing , mailing , it was a 7 day a week job. It was a big emotional overload. I was exhausted and at the same time grateful that I had such a fantastic back up of wonderful customers who were willing to buy them and keep me going.
Thank you to everyone who ordered them . Keeping a real life city centre shop afloat from making and selling masks alone is , believe me , a lot of work . but I've never been work shy.
Your parcels , 2 days work !
When we were at last allowed to return to work , I opened straight away. As I had been so busy , I had not been able to do as other shopkeepers had and decorated or deep cleaned . The shop was a tip ! I had spent literally 3 months just opening the door , grabbing things , chucking things inside and driving home as quick as possible as the city centre streets were eerily quiet , and it didn't feel safe to be alone on them. I had to spend a good week tidying and cleaning . During that week a public health official was doing the rounds and gave me advice on how to open safely . for me this is simple, a table near the door with a sign saying wait here and sanitise your hands ! I have to keep to my back area of the shop , and wear a mask when I move forward to serve. Its taken a bit of getting used to , but as most people are still only after masks its ok.
shop window after lockdown
At the moment I've had to close for an indefinite period of time. This is because I need to be abroad to help with family stuff , not because of Covid , I fully intend to return and I'm hoping its to make garments , because , good as its been making all those masks , I'm really looking forward to completing some of my projects. The vintage kimonos I bought are still sitting waiting to be recreated , and I've got some simply amazing fabrics to use. I am also looking forward to continuing on my sustainability journey. I'm studying and writing about sustainable fashion at the moment during my absence from the shop , and taking part in a few exciting online projects.
I have a great Facebook group called 'sustainable clothing for everyone ' which is a conversation group aimed at increasing awareness and sharing articles , as well as simple everyday things that can be done to start your own journey into sustainable fashion. designers and small scale manufacturers also advertise there so you can see lovely things from all over the world.
Once again , I would like to say thank you to each and all of you , for your continued support . likes , shares , and of course purchases are all gratefully received , however small. xx
For as long as I can remember I have loved old kimonos . I've been fascinated by their fabric , their cut , and their rich history in the Japanese culture .
In recycling them , I am not trying to impose my own culture or themes upon them , what I am hoping to achieve is to extend the life of these beautiful creations, by taking garments which are completely past their usefulness in that form, and rescuing the fabric. I hope to make it into new beautiful items that will be future heirlooms, and to pay homage to the origin of the fabric within the new designs, without appropriating the culture.
The origin of my Kimonos is unknown to me. They are old , they would have many stories to tell if they were able to talk. They have many signs of having been worn and loved . They are made from many different types of fabrics , natural and synthetic. They have holes in them , areas of fading , missing sleeves , torn seams , and stains. They have fabric rot which is common in very old silk and unfortunately is irreparable. Basically they are past it. They are no longer suitable for purpose , or for repair or restoration. They are suitable only for being completely deconstructed , or unfortunately for land fill.
Even in this state , Kimonos are worth money. I bought mine from a market stall in Amsterdam and brought them home to Scotland. they have come a long way in their existence.
The first task I need to get to grips with is deconstructing and cleaning them
I can tell you that this upset me a bit because even thought they are in a state , I am still emotional about taking them apart. It upsets me that someones work which has remained beautiful for all those years is now going to be destroyed by my hand, but I brace myself and proceed.
The first thing I notice about them is that astonishingly they are all completely hand sewn, and that the size of the stitches are enormous, about the size I would consider useful for temporary seams or tacking stitches. However the garments have remained solidly constructed all these years. not one of them has actually come apart at the stitching !
They are made from long narrow strips that have been cleverly tucked and shaped into the classic design , but when you take it apart there is a lot of usable fabric. Some of them have linings that are just as beautiful as the outer layer .
The linings of some of the silk kimonos are completely decayed. Beautiful but delicate and with the brown silk rot stains all over them . they have to be taken out before I wash the garments as the brown stains transfer onto other fabrics in the washing process. These gossamer light linings are now no longer of use for clothing , however I'm considering other uses for them such as embroidery or art of some kind.
After deconstruction comes cleaning. If they are made of man made fibre that can be machine washed , but silks need to be hand washed carefully and without much agitation.
At this stage you have to consider that there will inevitably be some losses. not all fabrics will survive the process. some may loose colour or integrity. Its always worth doing a little sample first , if it really spoils you need to consider whether its worth having it dry cleaned instead. .
Happily most of my kimonos are bearing up quite well to the wash. There are changes to some of the the fabrics , but I can work with that. I'm drip drying them on the line after carefully squeezing out as much water as possible.
Another thing you need to be prepared for is the smell ! when they are wet the smell of the moth repellents ingrained into the old fabric is very strong . No amount of wash powder is going to mask it . You can even smell it when the machine door is closed. Happily the smell subsides as the garments dry to almost imperceptible. The smell of moth repellent should be embraced. It is precisely because the makers of this fabric spent so much attention to it, that has enabled this fabric to ride the tides of times unmunched by those pesky little monsters. ! .
As I'm writing this I am waiting on my fabrics to dry and looking forward to the next stage which will be designing the new garments .
I hope you enjoyed reading my story so far. If so , please leave a like or a comment , and share it with your friends on your social media with a link to my facebook page , Psychomoda designer made clothing .
As the year draws to a close I thought it might be nice to look back some pictures from every month , to tell the story of the year. Some are of things I've made to measure for customers . I've got some great memories of making them , we had some laughs and good chats over the fittings and I love the collection appointments when I can surprise you with the finished article . Sometimes I get quite emotional as off you go with your dresses for your special occasions.😚 Ive also added interesting events I've participated in , and some garments that for one reason or another have just pleased me . theres too many so I have split it into two blog posts.
I'll start at the beginning
At the beginning of the year I received this picture from Lisa , dancing at her wedding , in the gorgeous res slipper satin and guipure lace dress I made her. As you can see she looked amazing. I loved making this dress for her , shes so gorgeous and has an individual style . the dress was halter neck , and had a low back embellished with lace motifs which were placed , and sewn by hand. a real couture finish which gave the dress a very elegant look.
For February , another red couture gown. This one for Marie , who wore it to the Academy awards . This dress had a lovely long removable train over a columnar skirt. The train also had pockets , which added a quirky edge. The one shoulder look is a particular favourite for Marie , who is a regular customer.
I finished the dress with a diamante buckle, which added a bit of glamour and sparkle.
February also belongs to the gorgeous Ellie , who , although had received her jacket previously , sent me the pictures at that time of year , as she lives in Australia and had to wait for the weather to cool down before she wore a wool tartan jacket . Ellie chose her 1970's inspired jacket from a sample in store , and had it made in her own family Tartan , which is a service I do a lot of. She was only in Edinburgh for a short while , so originally I made a mock up , or toille , of the garment , fitted that on her and then made the garment after she had left . as you can see it was a perfect fit. it also has a belt , not shown , to give it another look.
Quite a lot happened in March , as that was the month of the R Sustainable fashion show ,in which I was delighted to take part . The stipulation was that everything had to be ... well... sustainable ! . This was a challenge which I rose to gladly , as I have always employed sustainability into my work. particularly in the way of recycling old clothing and fabrics. I use a lot of 'found' fabrics , e.g , remnants from charity shops , and pieces I find in my travels. I always let the fabric talk to me and it tells me what it wants to become. ( not literally , just incase you were getting worried lol )
I got a lot of great pictures from this event , and found it hard to chose , but settled on the group picture , and this one of these two absolute babes xx
March is also , this fab picture of Ali from Heilan Quine tours , at a charity ball she attended. looking , ust gorgeous in her custom made corset and skirt set, embellished with white lace florals cut out and sewn in place by hand as a couture finish.
There is also a picture of gorgeous Wendy , in a similar outfit , ready for an International Womens Day do .
One last thing for march which I am proud of , was this article in the Edinburgh Evening news
here it is , its a great big full page full colour spread about the sustainable fashion show , and has no less than 4 of my pictures on it ! delighted wasn't the word . coverage like that is rarer than hens teeth lol.
April saw the start of a new adventure for me , which was hosting a pop up in the iconic Avalanche records store in Waverly Mall, which I still do . you can buy fab t shirts there as well as all sorts of vinyl , jewellery and art works by Gerry Gapinsky. I have one rail , with a collection of recycled , upcycled and second hand garments ..... all in the realm of sustainability which is becoming a theme in my work.
May was a relatively quiet month for me , so I concentrated on making stock for the upcoming busy summer season. I've selected this skirt to show you , as , made of linen its slightly different from the wool I usually work with , and I thought it had a good effect , as well as being a plus size item , which is sadly often neglected in designer collections. All 3 sold very quickly so I think it was a good idea to continue to include plus size in the rail stock. obviously , I offer made to measure for any size .
I'm leaving it there for now , and will do June to December in my next post
I hope you have enjoyed looking back over the months with me.
Much is being said about the fashion industry and it's massive polluting effect on our environment . Coupled with the knowledge that some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world are exploited , underpaid and even forced into labour in order to create the fast fashion fix we have come to expect in our shops .Collectively , we seem to have an enormous problem on our hands .
The big producers and sellers have been slow to react , or seem to pay ' lip service ' only to the problem with half hearted efforts such as small ranges of clothing made from organic cotton , or using a percentage of recycled fabric etc. It can seem that they are simply jumping on a bandwagon and that all this concern about the environment will pass and is a fleeting concern.
These 2 pictures are of Shaolei in 1993. in both she wears items from a very successful 100 % recycled and overdyed range , with which I opened my first shop.
Here is Shaolei again , wearing a costume I designed 100% recycled for a fashion show at St. Andrews university, back in the 90s
This was a costume I designed for Glinda the Good witch, form The Wizard of Oz ,a project by Nicola Keegan MUA , photo by Steve Allen . This was again 100% recycled
This costume was for 'Venus' a project by Duncan Holmes photography
As designer I have always tried to reuse fabrics , and make my impact on the environment a small as possible. I search for remnants , remake old clothes , upcycle , and use Scottish and British fabrics as much as I am able.
This recycled outfit was part of my collection for Nightwalk in 2013
I often I make one off costumes and show pieces from recycled items , To draw attention to the subject.
more recently a collection for R Sustainable social enterprise 2019
As a consumer of fashion we might feel that our small contribution may be lost or unimportant in the greater scheme of things, and it feels as though our voices are unheard, but the truth is that collectively our spending power makes us heard.
Consider how things have changed in our lifetime in supermarket shopping , all the things that are available now that were not , 10, 20 , 30 years ago and longer. The big players in the market bow to consumer demand.. The same consumer demand that is fuelling fast fashion and ultimately the destruction of the planet. If enough of us change our habits then the sellers will have to also to cater for our demands.
We can make a start.
here's a few suggestions
1 / make your clothes last longer. you can do this easily .. Use the tumble dryer less, mend small holes before they get bigger , re- sew on buttons etc
2/ buy better quality clothes that last longer anyway. just a few pounds more can be the difference between a piece of junk that will look good for a few wears and a better quality piece that might last a few years.
3/ Buy second hand. as we all know there is a wealth of second hand and vintage pieces which cost next to nothing. Make a point of trying to find what you need second hand before you go and buy a new one. you might just save yourself a small fortune into the bargain.
4/ Alter to fit . have adjustments made to second hand stuff , as well as those items lurking in the back of your wardrobe that just don't fit properly.
5/ Consider a wardrobe remake. You probably have a few items , at least, kicking around that you have because you like the fabric , or they have sentimental value. Here in the shop , I can transform them into new garments , breathing new life into them or recreating them all together.
6/ When you buy new , chose smaller local makers who are making less of an impact on the environment with their practices. Locally sourced fabrics such as Scottish wool , and recycled fibres. Expect to pay a little more but remember you will get much more use out of them , as well as supporting the local economy.
I have a facebok group called 'Sustainable clothing for everyone ' and I invite you to join. here is the link. The idea of the group is to share our experiences around the subject and keep it accessible for literally everyone. so you dont need to feel daft if you have a question , or to share a simple sewing technique , or a great charity shop look you found. Myself and other businesses share our goods and services to it , so you can find new ways to shop.
I will be making a lot of new recycled projects very soon. this is an example of garments I currently sell in my shop
A few months ago I was delighted to be asked by the amazing Kobe Fashion Museum in Japan to take part in an exhibition they were putting together about the history of tartan , and its modern use.
My work was to feature as one of only 6 current fashion designers selected , as an example of how we wear and use the fabric now.
I was greatly honoured to be asked to take part.
Here is a picture of the amazing Kobe Museum , which looks like the star ship enterprise ( Another bonus as I am a bit of a Trekky )
I was asked to create 2 unique outfits , and given free reign of the colours and details. I was also asked to write a short piece for the catalogue , which would describe my work , my personal journey in fashion and how my work now fits in with the use of tartan.
Here is the page of the catalogue which features my work
As you can see, its in Japanese ! so here is the translation
Psychomoda , which means ' Crazy fashion ' is located in the heart of Edinburghs historic old town, an area , steeped in Scottish history and Culture.
On the premises I designs and create couture garments for women of all ages, with a distinct British and Scottish influence. As well as a ready to wear selection.
Tartan , and other traditional fabrics feature prominently . The designs however are a break with tradition.
Fabrics , colours and patterns are combined in an striking way to create an adventurous and bold look. New , old , recycled and modern fabrics are thrown together in a bright display of colour , pattern and texture.
The traditional use of Tartan in Scotland is that each family , or Clan as they are known, has their own pattern , and should wear only that design. However, more frequently now , people chose which one they prefer, breaking with that system . Also , now tartans are designed and created for other groups. Sports teams for instance , or geographical
It is available in a massive variety of patterns and colours and lends itself to experimentation in cutting and folding, creating striking effects and combinations, juxtaposed with other fabrics.
My use of tartan in this way originates in the punk youth culture era during which I grew up . This culture instigated a creative revolution in The UK, as young people questioned the often unfair traditional class system and its constricting expectations.
As with all youth cultures , a favoured way of dressing emerged , and tartan featured heavily within that framework.
Breaking with tradition and its sometimes restrictive values is an important feature of my work. By mixing tartans with each other , Chopped up and pared down it becomes re invented through new connections. Cultures combine . and discourse is created .
Fashion , is an expression of culture , and a statement about ones own position within it. My own culture is varied and expressive, and I design to empower the wearer and hope to inspire boldness and confidence.
For these two outfits , I have specifically chosen new and modern tartan fabrics. They are both named after Islands , geographical areas , and not specific to Clan names. As such , they are not associated with the historical dogma of Clan identity or ownership.
The pink is called 'Discover Islay ' , it is woven in only 1 mill situated on the Isle of Islay , and was designed to display the beautiful colours of the landscape of the island.. I have coupled this with a modern pink Harris Tweed, woven on the Isle of Harris exclusively , and green velvet.
The second outfit is ' Isle of Skye ' Also designed to show the colours of the flora of that island. This has been woven on mainland Scotland at a mill in the highlands , and I have also used green tweed and purple velvet to accent those beautiful colours.
For the future , I foresee myself continuing down my exploratory fashion route, providing unexpected clothing for adventurous people. It is a great honour to be included in this exhibition and that my work is considered culturally relevant. Thank you for reading.
Here is a snapshot of the garments that I took instore before posting them off, as you can see I have embellished them with hand worked beading in a thistle and heather design to work with the origins of the fabric.
I am very excited that the exhibition is touring Japan , making a least 3 more stops over a 2 year period.
If you are over there , pop in and have a look !
Here are the garments as they will appear in the exhibit
Capes April 16 2018, 1 Comment
For a good while now I've been into capes .
They're something I've allways liked personally and seem to have passed into the realm of fashion classic . Worn with jeans and boots for example they are the epitome of casual chic.
I was spurred on to make some by the chance find of a couple of vintage beauts . A little cleaning and loving care was all that was needed to restore these gorgeous pieces to life.
The tartan one was so popular on face book it sold in 10 minutes and never made the website ! The classic 60s style black and white one is still available in store and on The website as we speak.
I found a beautiful wool tartan blanket and recycled it into this cape which is my own design . I was particularly interested in creating a wearable hood . (I'm allways dissapointed with hoods that don't function on a garment. ) the design is very full and swingy , being almost a full circle . It doesn't need arm slits as it is roomy and stops just above the hands . This one also sold immediately !
I've also sourced the most adorable print cotton blend vintage style linings. When you move your arms , people get a glimpse of it.
I've finished it with a lovely metal clasp.
This seafoam coloured cape is made from vintage wool fabric that I dyed myself.
There's going to be a lot more. . So keep your eyes peeled ❤
Up till a couple of years ago, I sold nothing but made on the premises items in the shop, this was my original concept and was possible for many years because I had 2 lovely assistants , one after the other for a total of almost 20 years.
Here , model Shaolei is wearing a recycled dress in the grunge stye which was popular when I first opened 26 years ago
Both were fully trained designer dressmakers , and together we were able to stock the store and undertake all sorts of couture appointments. We did a thousands of prom dresses , wedding dresses and other special occasion wear. I thoroughly enjoyed those years and the fast paced , deadline driven environment .
Here is a couture silk evening gown created exclusively for the customer .
Here are two couture wedding dresses , two of many I have designed and made
Time moves on and my assistants have left to pursue family life , I decided a change was needed. I decided I no longer wanted to employ an assistant and would go it alone.
But how was I to manage the shop and create enough stock to fill it all the time. ?
I've tried a few different ideas over the last 3 years . At first I tried to keep it all the same. It soon became apparent I could not manage it all alone , I had no time to design for the rails due to the constant demand for couture . Something had to give . I found that couture wedding gowns and prom dresses , although very rewarding in their own right were not giving me enough creative scope so I decided to cut back on the amount of commissions undertook .
To replace this , I started having dresses made abroad and selling those. After a while I decided this was also not for me , as I didn't have enough control over the finished product.
An example of the dresses I was having made abroad.
I started selling vintage and second hand items. I have always loved and worn second hand so I feel I have a good eye for it. Here is an example of a beautiful 80s dress , in store as I write this blog .
This has been a popular service , and has introduced loads of new customers who are specifically looking for that .
I have also re introduced knitwear . I love making knitwear but had no time for a lot of years .
An example of knitwear currently available .
Recently I have also created a line of soaps. Which is an interest I have had for a while .
Altogether , along with my sewn designs , I am aiming to create more of a mixed boutique experience for my customers . I have realised that I can create a more varied walk in experience and be a designer within that environment .
Two examples of my creative work
Selling other things has liberated me as a designer. I feel that now I can return to my passion for developing my exclusive design lead look , whether you have that off the rails ready to wear , or designed and created specially for you .
I am also able to start wholesaling to selected stores around the country , which is a long held ambition of mine.
Wholesaling in Maggi and Suzi Boutique , Inverness
I feel the future direction of the shop is starting to emerge , and my stores identity crisis is coming to an end 😁
Thank you for reading. If you liked my blog please consider leaving a like or comment , or share it for me . It all helps support my business, and I appreciate it ❤