Friday, 27 October 2017

Interview With Award Winning Children's Wear Designer Amy Philips

This week I'm delighted to share my interview with Amy Philip, Etsy Gold Kids + Baby Etsy award winning designer and the maker behind Button and Blue, a contemporary knitwear brand for 0-3 year olds. I found out more about her beautiful, colourful designs, each knitted by hand from quality, ethically-sourced wool, as well as the exciting projects she is currently working on.

1. What is your favourite part of the design/production process?

I love how running your own creative business means you get to do a bit of everything. Designing, material sourcing, making, photo taking and more.
I've never had a job that is quite so varied and I love it. My favourite part of the process by far, is the designing. I love the problem solving aspect of writing a knitting pattern and it is so satisfying seeing a new idea, that came to me whilst doing the washing up, walking the kids to school or feeding the baby, materialise, into something I'm really proud of.

2. What projects are you working on at the moment?

I'm currently working on my first range of knitting kits. These have been about a year in the making and I was so excited to finally launch them this October! The kits contain everything you need to make your own mittens, hats and cardigans for babies and toddlers, which takes the fuss out of searching for all the bits that you need. They are aimed at beginners + and contain video tutorials so you can learn as you go.
I love knitting and find it really relaxing. I'm hoping my kits will make knitting really accessible and spread the knitting bug a bit further!

3. Do you know where/how the wool you use is produced?

I spend a long time sourcing the wool I knit with, as where and how it is produced is really important to me. I am really fortunate to live around the corner from yarn shop YAK, which specialises in ethically sourced natural fibres and often the yarn that I use, is found there. I look for wool that is milled in the UK, ethically sourced and natural.

4. What is your favourite thing that you have knitted, and why?

One of my favourite things I have ever knitted are my cloud mittens. They were the first pair of mittens I added to my Etsy shop when I opened it two years ago. They were picked up by Etsy and included in their Christmas catalogue, and this was such an encouragement to me, as I was just starting out. An adapted version to fit adults was also the first pattern I ever published and I couldn't resist publishing the little version in my knitting kits too.

5. Why is it important to you to use natural fibres?

Firstly, wool is perfect for babies and toddlers as it is non-irritating, good for regulating body temperature (as it is breathable in summer and insulating in winter) and it's also beautifully soft. There isn't really a man-made fibre that can match it. Wool is also biodegradable, meaning it doesn't add to the huge amount of waste from the use of cheap, synthetic fibres in the textiles industry.
And finally, when you knit, you spend such a lot of time handling the yarn it has to actually feel nice! To me acrylic yarn feels scratchy and unpleasant, whereas wool feels soft and luxurious and is so much nicer to knit with.

You can find Amy's beautiful children's wear in her Etsy store here! Amy has also just launched her first collection of knitting kits on Kickstarter. Each kit contains everything you need to knit beautiful mittens, hats or cardigans for babies and toddlers, including some lovely 100% merino wool milled in the UK. The Kickstarter campaign allows for these kits to be produced so you can support Amy by pre-ordering a kit, and helping her to reach her target.

   Beccy x

Monday, 23 October 2017

'Women in clothes' - Book Review

'Women In Clothes' is not like any other book that you will find in the fashion section of a bookshop. For a start, unlike any other books that I have picked up and flicked through, an author doesn't tell you 'how to dress' and 'what to wear'. It isn't one person's 'rules', but the thoughts, conversations, stories and illustrations of over 639 people.

It all began with a survey of over 50 questions, selected by the three editors, Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits and Leanne Shapton. The list of questions was 'designed to prompt women to think more deeply about their personal style'.
It is a chunky book that uses a wide range of methods, to record the many different things that influence what someone chooses to wear, and their personal style - from surveys and transcripts between friends, families and strangers, to projects, and collections of photos of clothing, that have accumulated in someone's wardrobe over several decades. 
Whether we love clothes or not, it is something that everyone does daily, so it is interesting to hear from women of all ages and backgrounds about their style - not just those with a background in the fashion industry or constantly in the media spotlight (although of course there are a few designers and celebrities that appear, such as Cindy Sherman and Lena Dunham, who have equally good stories to tell).

Above, a lady imitates poses from the front covers of fashion media.

One of my favourite parts of this book is the section where several of the contributors were requested to send in some photos of their mothers, before they had children and describe what they saw.
There are such a variety of stories behind the outfits worn, where they are in the photo, and how their children feel about what they are wearing.
Another part that particularly stood out to me was the article called 'Clothes On The Ground' (page 225) by journalist Julia Wallace, made up of several interviews with Cambodian garment workers, for whom, on only $80 a month, shopping and style choices are limited. Here are a few extracts from the article:

"...Sometimes I might only have 10,000 riel in my pocket, but a shirt or something will be so nice that I'll just pay for the shirt and not buy the food."

"...because we don't have money, we don't think a lot about the style of clothes. We just try to find something."

"When I'm sewing seams, I always think that these jeans must be very expencive, they cost at least $40 to $50 per pair, and I'm wondering how those people afford those expencive jeans while my salary is so small."

"I don't want to spend the rest of my life in a garment factory. I dream of having my own business. I would sell noodle soup."

             Are there any fashion trends you've refused to participate in, and if so why?

The pictures above show the way clothes can dramatically change how we are percieved. Six strangers wear each others outfits and it completely alters their character and how comfortable they seem.

                       What are you trying to achieve when you dress?

           Do you have style in any areas of your life aside from fashion?

It is the perfect book to dip in and out of, filled with lots of little bite-sized converstations, articles and interviews and I like to just open up on a random page and see what it says.
It is a very honest book that doesn't feel filtered or airbrushed - the stories are personal and often very relatable.
I love how some of the answers to questions, and people's thoughts on certain prompts (such as 'Handmade', 'Glamour', '40's, and 'Closets') are grouped together so you can easily see the diversity in opinions and reactions and how one thing can have so many different meanings for each person.

Its really interesting to read about style in a more personal way rather than as just a set of rules, and what's great about this book is that, as the title suggests ('Women In Clothes' instead of 'Clothes on Women') the women who wear the clothes, and their stories, are the most important part of the book.
You can find 'Women In Clothes' here!

                                                                                          Beccy x

Blogger Template Created by pipdig