Somerset’s at the cutting edge of fashion

The creative industry in Somerset is vast and impressive, offering exciting opportunities for people who want a more rewarding life without compromising on their business aspirations. A fast growing sector is high fashion and Somerset’s own catwalk parade includes some hugely successful names.

Iconic Somerset brands include luxury handbag and leather goods designer, Mulberry; one of the Duchess of Cambridge’s favourites, Alice Temperley; luxury cloth manufacturers, Fox Brothers; urban menswear designer, Jenny Schwarz; and award winning wedding dress designer, Sassi Holford. These top designer labels, along with a host of other fashion brands including DUO tailored boots and world-renowned shoe makers Clarks, highlight Somerset’s credentials as a hub for fashion and creative excellence.

In her Somerset collection, international fashion icon Alice Temperley has drawn inspiration from her roots, naming the collection after her beloved home county. Her stylish and desirable range, designed exclusively for John Lewis, became the fastest selling brand in the retailer’s history when it launched last year.

Bridal designer Sassi Holford was famously commissioned by Autumn Kelly to design the wedding gown for her marriage to Princess Anne’s son, Peter Phillips. She is one of only a handful of bridal designers whose dresses are still made exclusively in the UK. Her gowns are produced to the highest standards in her Taunton based studios by a first class team of talented cutters, seamstresses and hand beaders.

Sassi explains, “Above all else, designing and making wedding gowns has to be a passion, and in Somerset I have found that passion. I want to do all that I can to promote Somerset as a great place for other creative businesses to thrive.”

It’s not only the fashion-pack that’s impressed by Somerset’s fashion culture – it makes great business sense too and the manufacturing industry in Somerset is thriving. Ian Scott, Group Supply Manager at Mulberry, says, “We are known for our quintessentially English style, and we have created a thriving business from the heart of rural Somerset. With significant growth over the last five years we needed to grow our manufacturing base and wanted to keep it in the UK. Somerset remains the perfect location for us to trade from for our UK and international market, and was the obvious choice for our second factory. Somerset has a strong tradition in the leather trade and we’re helping to keep these skills alive, and of course we’re benefitting from the skills of staff in the area.”

Similarly, when Deborah Meaden – famed for her role on the BBC TV show Dragons’ Den – purchased Fox Brothers in 2009, it was the high quality, creativity and passion that attracted her. The company has produced woollen and worsted fabric in Wellington, Somerset for nearly 250 years. Officially credited as the original creators of flannel, to this day it combines traditional manufacturing processes with state-of-the-art design technology, producing the finest wool and cashmere cloth available in the world. It is for this reason that many of the industry's most discerning and demanding clients, including London's historic Savile Row tailors and top fashion houses, choose Fox Brothers' luxury cloth.Somerset Fashion Brand - Merchant Fox TMF Oak Bark iPad sleeve

“The creative industry in Somerset is thriving and employs more than 6,500 people," says Rupert Cox, Chief Executive of Somerset 3D. “The county is proving to be a successful environment for established and new fashion brands, which benefit from the supportive business ethos and network available. This includes professional advice and input, access to a skilled workforce, a base from which to connect nationally and internationally, and a lot of like-minded people. The wide-ranging lifestyle benefits of being in Somerset complete the picture, making this a great place from which the fashion and other creative industries can do business.”

Creativity is actively supported and encouraged thanks to dynamic organisations such as Somerset College of Arts and Technology, Somerset Innovation & Design, Creative Somerset, Somerset Art Works and ArtsMatrix.

To find out more about the advantages of running a creative business in Somerset and the lifestyle benefits the county has to offer, have a look at the latest Somerset 3D film, produced in conjunction with the Daily Telegraph’s Business Club. It features a number of Somerset 3D’s high profile ambassadors, including Deborah Meaden, Fox Brothers and Haynes Publishing, discussing why they think Somerset is such a great place to do business.

Case study:

Designer Jenny Schwarz on why Somerset is the perfect base for creative businesses

Urban menswear designer and Somerset 3D ambassador, Jenny Schwarz, moved to Somerset in 2011 and was recently nominated for the South West Business Insider’s 42 under 42 rising stars award.

She explains, “There isn’t a better place for my designer-wear business to be based. The  creativity sector in Somerset is extremely vibrant and being positioned in the countryside is very inspiring.

“The location here is fantastic, I can be in London in only a couple of hours and reaching international fashion shows is a breeze, thanks to the close proximity of well-connected airports.

“I am delighted to support Somerset 3D’s great endeavour to encourage other businesses into the area and am honoured to be an Ambassador for the cause.”


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