In 2008, Britain seems to be witnessing a roots revival. Eco chic has high prominence in the autumn/ winter collections 08 ; with Dame Westwood reaching for a slice of childhood imagination in her latest jungle dwelling/ eco-warrior look and Eco- fashion pioneer Katherine E. Hamnett having campaigned for a quarter of a century to bring organic cotton to the mainstream UK market, has succeeded with a groundbreaking deal with Tesco. Hand make and don’t waste seems to be the new mantra of the millennium and with everyone following Lily Cole’s green fingerprints in reaching for Nana’s knitting needles and 60s dress patterns, being a Recessionista has never felt so good.
I talked to designer Jennifer Ambrose, founder of the Enamore hemp clothing line on the ‘best of british’ and the forgotten art of creating clothes.
Enamore for Enamore?
Think bedrock meets Burlesque. A politically correct Betty Boop.
The designs are beautiful, twisting the ethical ethos into something personal, hand tailored and appealing to the eye. Soft bras and knickers made from a soft bamboo jersey, candy pink satin bows and organic stretch silk. Unique dresses made to order in polka dot, geometric and floral prints. Strawberry Boleros, palooza garters and vintage tulip dresses. Limited edition and made especially for you. Sourced, stitched, constructed and sent in 21 days. Oh and all on a clear conscience.
Founder Jennifer Ambrose took half an hour out of her hectic schedule to talk to me over a quick cup of tea, green that is. The clothing line starting in 2004 and has continued to grow, leaving its roots now firmly established, leading to the recognition of a 2008 green web award. Yet it hasn’t been an all round flowery experience.
“ I started from scratch and from the age of 23 I began to teach myself the techniques of sowing, stitching, weaving and sourcing. I was doing 50 hour weeks ; juggling learning how to design with three low paid jobs”.
Yet Ambrose works with fashion and textile graduates from all over the UK and enables them to see the textile industry from within. “Eco fashion is a huge part of our future and self-taught education is the key” says Jenny.
She is clearly happy as she boasts about her array of helpers, yet her tone changes when we broach university fashion courses. “ My students are surprised when they realise I haven’t been to University. I feel they cloud the perceptions of the fashion industry. Everyone strives for the high designer positions, yet the UK industry needs pattern cutters and machinists. it’s a crying shame.”
So what does Ambrose hope to see in the budding fashionistas of the future? “Hopefully the next generation will be taking all lines of jobs and kicking up a fuss about environmental policies.”
And what can we hope to see from her? “ I am still a tiny company behind the online illusions. Yet for the A/W collection I want to work with hemp wool creating sexy tailored jackets, with a lady Penelope theme. Heritage with my own twist”.