The Contemporary Craft Festival

Contemporary Craft Festival

Lynsey Walters

The Contemporary Craft Festival – I owe you an apology.

I’ve always been a bit mistrusting of craft festivals and tend to give craft fairs a serious wide berth. And with that attitude, I almost didn’t make it to Bovey Tracey and The Contemporary Craft Festival today.

But went along I did. It’s quite local to me and as my Well Fashioned mission is to seek out more makers of the #wellfashioned kind – I decided to give it a go – and thank goodness I did as it has answered so many of my Well Fashioned prayers. To think I used to never be able to find jewellery, textiles and accessories that were, you know, a bit different, headturning and well made. Here, I was in my element and completely spoilt for choice – a new way to shop for me.

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#WearingIrish: How Margaret Molloy created an international fashion campaign with one hashtag

#wearingirish Margaret Molloy wearing cape by Bernie Murphy, sweater by Blarney Woollen Mill, gloves by Paula Rowan gloves, earrings by Tracy Gilbert Designs & bag by Holden Leathergoods

I should have written this in March but truth be told I was too busy following #wearingirish and coveting Margaret Molloy’s Wearing Irish wardrobe to finish this piece off – but better late than never hey 🙂

But why March? Well March is indeed Ireland’s month. St Patrick’s Day on the 17th March sends us into an shamrock-induced frenzy but thanks to Margaret Molloy, March has become much more than that – it’s also the month of being well dressed and Wearing Irish.

Back in March 2016, Margaret Molloy began to share examples of Irish fashion design on social media with the hashtag #wearingirish and it quickly became a passion project of hers. She soon turned the hashtag into an international fashion campaign aimed at promoting the best designers that Ireland has to offer.

Throughout March 2017 Margaret encouraged people around the world to buy at least one item of Irish fashion and post a photo of them wearing it, or an old Irish favourite, in the hope of building Ireland’s reputation for fashion. Margaret uploaded a photo or two a day on her own social media accounts, including instagram and #wearingirish spread like wildfire.

Her campaign hit the headlines too with the likes of Irish Central, the largest Irish website in America, following Margaret’s example and highlighting some of the great Irish designers that featured in her campaign.

So what happens now that March is over?

Margaret Molloy is on a mission to make sure #wearingirish isn’t just forgotten until March 2018. She has created a directory of her favourite Irish fashion designers to help people find and celebrate the best Ireland has to offer. She’s also still #wearingirish and so are a lot of people – just check them out on Twitter. I hope to post up some of my favourite #wearingirish outfits soon and I’m saving up for some of these great finds: cape by Bernie Murphy, dress by Caroline Mitchell knitwear, dress by Tina Griffin Design, dress by Manley, dress by Niamh O’Neill and bag by Holden Leather Goods.

Her campaign has also encouraged me to write about and feature Made in Ireland and highlight some of the very best Well Fashioned #wearingirish womenswear here on Well Fashioned. To be honest, it didn’t take much persuasion seeing as my family is Irish, and I’ve just returned from a holiday in Ireland where I was surrounded by head turning Irish women of the Well Fashioned and #wearingirish kind.

So, please await a regular Well Fashioned feature on some of my favourite Made in Ireland and #wearingirish finds and thanks to you Margaret Molloy for the introductions. Really hope to get chance to interview you soon.

In the meantime, please check out my Made in Ireland directory. I’m slowly updating this and hope to feature #wearingirish makers who make their womenswear in Ireland. I‘ll also highlight any that are ethically-made too.

And, here’s a link to Margaret’s online directory of Irish fashion designers wearing Irish. Treasure this, but beware it could give you a serious shopping habit.

Well Fashioned Credits

Images all care of Margaret Molloy and #wearingirish.

Meet the Manufacturer

Kate Hills, founder of Make it British and Meet the Manufacturer

I sadly missed this year’s Meet the Manufacturer on the 24 and 25 May in London but over 5,000 people did not – going some way to show just how popular UK manufacturing and British-made brands continue to be.

And, so it should be. By buying British you are spending your money where it matters – supporting skills and craftsmanship of the highest quality*.

However, with Meet the Manufacturer aimed at bringing the best of British manufacturers together with buyers and designers looking to have their products made in Britain, it might not be the most obvious choice of a go-to event by a blogger like me.

But I’m on a mission to be Well Fashioned, and attending the likes of Meet the Manufacturer has served as a great introduction to many womenswear brands I’ve previously never heard of, and those brands that ‘Make it British’ and make it well-made and ethically too.

This year’s event was also a little bit different in that it included a carefully selected showcase of British-made brands on show, including Made in Scotland Elizabeth Martin Tweed, Carpet Bags and Yull Shoes, pictured above.

British fashion designer Patrick Grant, director of E.Tautz, Norton & Sons of Savile Row and a regular on TV and radio also took to the stage talking about his new Community Clothing project as he seeks to revive British garment manufacturing via a network of factories in the north of England and Scotland saying “We have a sustainable business model in clothing, with everything made to order in the shop and with the fabrics, woollens and worsteds manufactured in Britain.”

I’ve heard really great things about Community Clothing especially their jeans, so hope to blog about them soon and try a pair on for size.

So I might of missed out on this year’s Meet the Manufacturer, but don’t think I’ve missed out completely as I’ve been before and highly recommend and have spotted some great Made in Britain finds in the list of exhibitors. You’ll find me at the front the queue next year, to be sure.

If you want to know more and find some great Made in Britain womenswear, then check out my growing Made in Britain fashion directory. Kate Hills of Make it British and Meet the Manufacturer fame also has a fab directory of Make it British clothing and accessories, Still Made in Britain and its Still Made in Britain clothing listing and the Grey Fox for his UK-made menswear list. Yes, it’s menswear but only of the well-made kind and, of course, there is nothing to stop us Well Fashioned women wearing menswear too.

*Now, I know, Made in Britain doesn’t always mean sustainable, and it is a very sad fact that sweatshops exist on our shores. My advice on the Well Fashioned front is to try and choose well. Choose those brands and makers that are ethically made and can tell you who made my clothes. Be part of the Fashion Revolution ‘be curious’ and always ask who made my clothes?

Well Fashioned Credits

Photos of Kate Hills and Patrick Grant courtesy of Meet the Manufacturer and Make it British.

Aran Jumper The Search Begins

I know, it’s completely the wrong time of the year to be talking jumpers but after a day of house hunting and looking round an old but ‘going to be cold’ i.e. ice on the inside of the windows in winter type of house, my mind wandered off to the need to stock up on jumpers and thick waffle blankets. Yes, we like the house despite the threat of cold, and there’s nothing like being well prepared.

Also, with a little boy of my own, I’ve got a serious compulsion to keep him cosy and warm by dressing him in an Aran jumper just like my mum used to do to me. Yes, itchy neck and all. I want him to have my kind of childhood so funnily described by the actor Stephen Mangan when he talks about growing up with Irish parents and holidaying with them in Ireland (really sorry but I can’t find the link to the interview). Who knows Stephen might see this and help me out 🙂

And it’s got to be the real thing – the Aran jumper that is – the real, genuine article that’s been made to last a lifetime and is well fashioned at its finest. Only the best will do as I’m looking for three jumpers that after serious wear and in many years to come will be passed down the generations (who says jumpers can’t be family heirlooms): one for my little boy, one for me and also for my partner too. He has Irish roots as well (with a bit of Cornish thrown in) so I’m sure it will be a strong, and indeed well fashioned look when we take to the streets in our ultra-warm and thankfully no longer itchy Arans.

So, one day, I’ll finally get to visit the Aran Islands but until then I’ve been doing my research on where to buy an Aran jumper and luckily stumbled across this old article in The Telegraph by Johnny Morris and his quest for the real thing: Aran sweaters.

It’s well worth a read, along with the rest of his grail trail series which sadly no longer seems to run. You can find them all here on Johnny Morris’s Bespoke Traveller archive, including this one on French Knickers. Read at your pleasure.

So where can you buy an authentic, well fashioned Aran jumper?

Johnny’s recommendations for buying a genuine Aran jumper are:

Inis Meáin Knitting Company that designs and knits all its beautiful garments on the island of Inis Meáin, Aran Islands, Co. Galway, Ireland where they are based. They specialise in menswear but have a great selection of Aran jumpers for women although I’m more drawn to their menswear and the thought of being all wrapped up and protected in an oversized crew neck sweater.

Inis Meáin is stocked in shops over the world and online. They also have a factory shop on site which I hear has amazing views of the ocean. Definitely one for a future visit as part of my factory shop tour.

An Tuirne makes handcrafted Aran sweaters and knitwear all hand knitted by women in their homes on the Aran Islands and sold at the An Tuirne shop at Kilmurvey Craft Village on Inishmore.

Founded by Andrew Greaney and Rosemary Faherty, each An Tuirne garment has the knitters name on the label, and you can order made-to-measure jumpers and they sell sweaters for men, women and children.

So two great places to start my search for some soon to be much-loved Aran jumpers. I’ll keep you posted and photos will follow soon, along with (hopefully) more details and interviews with Inis Meáin Knitting Company and An Tuirne.

I’m also due to pick the brains of the mother of jumpers, Edel MacBride, a very talented fashion designer who’s passionate about Aran knitwear and all her knitwear in Made in Ireland. At this rate, we are going to well stocked up and toasty warm in our future home – just got to find it first.

Ernest Wright and Son

It’s National Storytelling Week so we are going behind the seams and paying homage to the very best well fashioned stories committed to film – the finest craftspeople sharing their stories and skills for the camera.

Fashion is all about hands and hands need only the very best dressmaking scissors so over to you Ernest Wright and Son and The Putter film from the extremely talented photographer and filmmaker Shaun Bloodworth – tell us your story/show us your skills.

Ernest Wright and Son is a family company that has been hand-making the finest scissors and shears in Sheffield since 1902, and still does so today.

Most famous for its dressmaking scissors, Ernest Wright and Son has embraced the power of the story and used it to showcase the beauty of scissor making to a brand new and growing customer base.  Indeed, The Putter film has been credited with helping them to come back from the brink when back in 2014 the company was at risk of closure from a lack of orders.  The Putter went viral, bringing in orders from around the world – helping to reverse the company’s fortunes.

 

The rest, they say, is history, but a history that lives on with a successfully-backed lifetime lasting kitchen scissors kickstarter project seeing 3,684 backers pledging £248,419 to help Ernest Wright and Son bring back its ‘Kutrite’ pattern of all-purpose stainless steel kitchen scissors, and train apprentice ‘putter-togetherers’ in the techniques and art of putting scissors together.

Sadly, in writing this piece I read that Shaun Bloodworth, The Putter filmmaker sadly passed away last year.  Friends of Shaun are asking people to join the organ donation register.  You can see more of his work his work and on vimeo.

Well Fashioned Credits 

Ernest Wright and Son Limited is based in Sheffield, where they produce the highest quality, lifetime guarantee scissors and shears using traditional skills that have been passed down from generation to generation.  Read more about the history of Ernest Wright and Son and you can see more films about them here:

The disappearing art of making scissors by hand a BBC film by Susannah Reid in which Eric Stones, one of the two “Master Puttertogetherers” at the factory, spoke to BBC News about his disappearing craft.

Making Sheffield scissors – Paul Martin and his ‘Handmade Revolution’ team visited the highly skilled craftsmen at the Ernest Wright and Son Limited scissor factory in Sheffield in August 2012.

All images: Ernest Wright & Son Ltd