Founded by a self-starter Jessica Schuhle-Lewis with no external investment, Orwell and Austen design with a focus on statement design which rightfully placed them under Draper’s spotlight at their Scoop trade show round up. A luxury designer cashmere destination, Orwell and Austen create contemporary women and unisex fashion and accessories pieces from the highest quality fabrics, whether cashmere or cashmere blends, Orwell and Austen have opted to never use synthetic mixes and why would they want to? There is nothing like cashmere when you are looking for a beautiful piece to last a lifetime, but cashmere that has been consciously sourced settles perfectly in the sweet spot.
The brand focuses on modern classics with a refreshingly youthful twist, combining cashmere (soft but not too delicate that you fear a second wear) with fresh statements – using a majority of hand weaving, knitting and finishing techniques; in the case of my cool ‘Je Ne Regrette’ sweater (perfectly priced at £195), the slogan was hand printed using a screen printing technique. The brand works closely with a small family run factory in Nepal, a region renowned for some of the finest quality cashmere in the world and have been working with the same manufacturer (a small to medium family based unit in the Kathmandu Valley) since they launched in 2012.
Whilst in the business of providing Orwell and Austen with the finest materials, the cashmere-farm both employ local villagers – some of whom have been working in the factory for decades – and advocate for humane methods of raising and farming goats. This includes a focus on selling to European farmers to ensure animal welfare. The mere fact that Schuhle-Lewis knows this is refreshing – it means that she has asked the right questions before selecting her supplier, in a day and age where consumers are also asking more questions – most specifically, ‘Who made your clothes?’, any designer armed with this information is already ahead of the curve. The brand retails between £70 – £210 online and through Wolf & Badger.
There is nothing I like seeing on a tag more than the three words, ‘Made In Britain’ – and Penmayne hats are designed, shaped by hat-blockers locally and handbrushed, trimmed and embossed in the Penmayne Studio in London. A boutique British hat brand, Penmayne was founded by Claire Howeson, a solicitor who left behind her career in the City to follow her passion for design. Howeson trained in millinery at Kensington and Chelsea College and with milliners Edwina Ibbotson and Noel Stewart before launching her own brand in 2013, focusing on exceptional quality, genuine wearability – not token statement – to create timeless pieces for the new hat generation (and like the generation after that). The brand is stocked in Harrods, William and Son and Wolf and Badger, and when I say this hat is of exceptional quality, I really mean it. I love how informative the company’s website is too – crammed with information not only about the different styles on offer, but also how, where and by whom the hats are being made.