DISCLAIMER: THIS REVIEW HAS NOT BEEN PAID FOR. THE THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS EXPRESSED ARE MY OWN.
Last December I was fortunate enough to visit the Emma Harris Atelier. I’ve been meaning to invest some time into visiting brands and their homesteads so this was an absolute delight to start off a wish of mine with one of my favourite brands.
I know that people such as Karolina Laskowska and The Lingerie Addict have posted about the real value of handmade lingerie. The Lingerie Addict posted two important blogs here and here which detail the aforementioned with defining accuracy but I still do not feel that it really conveys the energy that goes into lingerie production. When Cora Harrington says ‘All lingerie is handmade’, I assure you it is no lie and perhaps, if I can show that in a more common manner, perhaps more people will understand? Who knows.
Emma Harris is tucked away in a beautiful factory right opposite the last leavers lace factory in England. The very building itself exudes an old timely feel which is nostalgic and homely, like looking at old family photos, and it is so fitting that this building houses the quaint, yet expert team, of skilled seamstresses that make up and produce everything that is, Emma Harris. Brimming with knowledge and enthusiasm, it was absolutely delightful to be blessed to spend some time in their company.
I’ve met Claire Emma Harris, the owner and founder, a couple of times now and as an individual she is technical and smart yet kind and thoughtful. From football to fancy underwear she is an incredible lady who is diversely talented and knowledgable so it isn’t surprising that she has cultivated such a wonderful team of people and extraordinary brand.
Sipping tea and watching my ever favourite Sky set come from cutting to production was wonderful. I would easily describe watching all the little pieces of fabric coming together into a garment, magical. These women are so skilled that what they do seems almost second nature, an ability that comes from timeless practise and fondness for what one does. By the end of it, I sure wanted to be a seamstress.
The Atelier itself has a selection of artful machines which when coupled with these talented seamstresses, it practically guarantees excellence. The atmosphere is friendly, warming and upbeat so work comes natural and skills flow easily into every garment. Precision and care are a natural byproduct of a relaxing and happy environment. I felt at home here and ready to learn.
Each design has its own pattern which can consist of a dozen or so pieces all of which ar meticulously co-ordinated in their own bags and patterns.
Each pattern has to be sized correctly, cut correctly against the fabric (with the grain), sewn together and finished. All the garments are sewn with depth that comes with the luxury price-tag, and rightly so.
A depth that comes with how many times a bobbin, a foot and cotton needs to be changed to colour match the lingerie both top and bottom. From the garment being pressed throughout construction to ensure continuity throughout. The amount of times machines are swapped for the varying stitches and the dedication that comes from double or triple sewing important joints and aspects to ensure longevity in a final product. All these things are things that you don’t and won’t see that truly really add to the value of a product.
There are more than a dozen processes for each garment through multiples seamstresses and that is no easy feat. They rightly have sets from the collection on display on mannequins and posters throughout the atelier because something that takes so much hard work deservedly should be displayed.
Emma Harris is sourced, produced and sold all in the UK which keeps money in our own economy. Emma Harris is also very serious about all of their ethical practices. They only use suppliers who provide a living-wage (People who produce the fabrics, laces, components or even dye custom colours), they keep track of their fabric consumption and wastage is considered constantly by every single person in the atelier. It really is refreshing to see, each measurement, each cut, everything has been pre-planned and thought out to assure that there is minimal wastage which made me feel, swanning about in one of the glorious robes, proud to consider Emma Harris one of my UK defining brands.
If anything can inspire someone to want to be creative it is being in such a positive, attentive and conscientious environment. I know that by the time I was on the train coming home I was wondering how long it would take me to learn to sew (when realistically my RSI in my wrists would make this an unrealistic task for me personally) which is how, with that warm influenced feeling, I knew this was a day to remember and share.