The WISE Creative aims to promote what Wales, (Northern) Ireland, Scotland and England have to offer by bringing together luxury brands manufacturing within the British Isles. With a core belief that small independent brands stand stronger together when in a supportive and collaborative group, Helena F McKeown and Rose Fulbright set up The Wise Creative “to facilitate idea-sharing and communication with other labels working under a similar ethos in a challenging retail environment.” The collective offers member brands a direct yet low-risk way to reach customers in the form of pop-up boutique events, where consumers can see, touch, taste, try on… and also speak to the designers behind the products. I went along to their first event, held in the delightful surroundings of Kettner’s in Soho, and have a lot of exciting UK brands to tell you all about as a result. I may not be able to afford to buy from all of them, but I love what they’re doing and really want to spread the word about this inspiring collective of designers and makers.
I found out about the event thanks to talented jewellery designer Helen Spencer, who was there with her SPENCER H collection of bold modern jewellery. Her statement necklaces (see left) which combine soft black rope with shiny metal elements not only appeal to the magpie in me, but also satisfy my need for jewellery that is bigger than usual without being over the top. Once I make up my mind which of her necklaces I would like to own, you will definitely be seeing more of her designs on this blog. After talking to Helen about the event and her new range, I got chatting to Caroline Hanks, the designer behind the East London brand Funk E Angels. In the same way that posts on Rarely Wears Lipstick are about whatever grabs my attention, Caroline’s fantastic bags are inspired by a wide variety of things, including the fabrics she uses, people (check out her new Bowie clutch bag), street art and anything else that catches her eye.
Next, I chatted to one of the event organisers, Rose Fulbright, about her eponymous luxury lingerie label which launched at the pop-up. Using gorgeous thick stretch satins and sturdy yet sumptuous silks, Rose has created a stunningly simple collection of luxurious underwear. Inspired by 30s front fastening bras, the collection features a beautiful longline underwired bra and a surprisingly supportive and cleavage-enhancing non-wired bra (see photo above). I’m sure this will be a firm favourite with women of a smaller cup size who hate the uncomfortable padding and wires of most push up bras! Of course, I was instantly drawn to the high-rise knickers in Rose’s collection, but there is an alternative for those who prefer a bikini style brief.
I also spoke to Andii Lindsay, designer at the delightfully named Cock & Bull Menswear, about the brand’s bespoke tweed waistcoats and fabulous flat caps. The tweed fabrics are hand woven in Scotland, and the linings are a hard-wearing but attractive organic hemp and silk blend. They have some great shirts, fantastic pants (with a rather tasty bearded model) and a new range of jeans which look to be both stylish and hard wearing. The brand also has an ethical and sustainable menswear boutique on Cheshire Street (off Brick Lane) in London, stocking an exciting range of brands. Just before I left, I chatted to Kathryn Sillince from Magpie Accessories about her lovely leather bags and accessories, including her new iPad clutch which will be available online soon.
It was a fantastic afternoon and I saw so much in the short time I was there. Until I caught sight of Rachel Wittingham’s extraordinary Horny Things, I never thought I needed a crystal encrusted bird skull, but she has one called Lori! I adored the sheer fabrics and stunning prints used by Aether, who offer sustainable sources and transparent processes as well as timeless design. I heard about the fascinating processes that Belinda Norrington uses to hand make her Wild Acre silver jewellery. I touched the beautiful MULTEMYR garments on the rail, and can confirm that the fabrics and finish of WISE Creative co-founder Helena F McKeown’s stylish womenswear are utterly sublime. The delightful lace, silk and sheer fabrics used by Ellie Simpson-Gray in her Iris London lingerie also warranted a closer look. I think I’ll need to go along to the next event and see if I can chat to her too. In fact, there were many other designers that I didn’t speak to and some brands that I didn’t even get a chance to look at – including Siskin London, Occipinti and Charlie Noble – so I will be making a point of going back. If you like to support UK designers/makers, check out The WISE Creative’s site for the full list of brands and look out for their next pop-up shopping event.