A few weekends ago I had the pleasure of visiting Gillian June’s quaint studio in Hackney and meeting their lovely founder, Imogen.
I had first met Imogen at A Luxe Story pop up in Hampstead Heath last October where her handmade jackets were being featured as part of a design collective to support independent fashion brands.
What I loved most about visiting the studio was finding out how Imogen incorporates sustainability into the design process by using a mixture of locally sourced textiles and upcycled or vintage trimmings.
I also got to see some of the items that Imogen was working on at the time!
Gillian June’s approach to ethical tailoring ensures that there is no single-use plastic packaging, a minimal carbon footprint and up to zero fabric waste.
In fact, the belief that all fabric has a purpose has inspired their recent zero waste collection that uses surplus materials to develop a new range of accessories and children’s clothes. My favourite pieces are the scrunchies!
But Gillian June is most renowned for their Made-to-Measure service that encourages women to get involved in the garment making process.
By breaking down the different elements of manufacturing and asking women to think about the small details (such as the linings and buttons) it means that they start to look at their clothes in a different way and cherish the garment so much more.
Perhaps you have a favourite piece of clothing which is coming to the end of its life? A scarf or a pretty print that you love but maybe don’t wear anymore?
Gillian June can incorporate these fabrics into a custom design based on your personal specifications. Their ethos means that they encourage any kind of upcycling and see no need to throw fabric away from ties and tops to bedspreads and cushions!
Although most of Gillian June’s pieces are lovingly handmade by either Imogen herself or other Saville Row trained tailors, they have recently outsourced some work to India as the brand has expanded.
I was really interested to learn about the process here where, in contrast to factory production lines, each tailor has ownership of an item from start to finish. This means that they take more pride in their work and it makes the day far more interesting than sewing the same seam over and over as would happen in a factory.
Above is Radha, the head of cutting. She cuts everything by hand to check that grain lines are straight and patterns will match.
And this (below) is Girish who makes each pair of trousers. Although his previous focus was making shirts, Imogen sent him a step-by-step guide and video to show him how to make trousers – meaning that he was able to learn a valuable new skill.
I am lucky enough that Imogen has gave me a lovely jacket from Gillian June’s Ready-to-Wear collection which comes with a wonderful story.
The blue wool and lining was locally bought in the UK but the cream and teal trimmings came from Shimla in the North of India where Imogen had gone in 2016 to see where her maternal grandmother had lived.
It’s a mountain town and the textiles here were mostly scratchy woollen suitings. But then, down a little path Imogen found this little stall with gorgeous ribbons and trimmings.
I keep meaning to photograph the jacket which has become a new wardrobe favourite but I’m waiting for the sun to appear first – when it does I’ll take a photo and pop it on instagram so you can see for yourself!
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about Gillian June – you can find out more via their website here.