Opulent English eccentric themes, sequin embellished evening wear and flowing dresses peppered with Victorian influences… Welcome to the world of Temperley.
Since its launch in 2000, the brand has attracted a jaw-dropping clientele of A-listers including none other than the Duchess of Cambridge and Michelle Obama who was recently seen wearing the Spring 2019 Platinum Shirt and Trousers on her Becoming book tour in Houston.
Hailed as “the designer making the biggest waves in British fashion” by American Vogue, Alice Temperley instills in her brand joie de vivre and free spirit. In conversation with Alice, we talk about her inspirations and her standpoint on sustainability:
- Did you grow up wanting to be a designer?
I was always encouraged to be creative growing up. I used to make things out of anything I could find and have always loved collecting fabrics, beautiful vintage or unusual artefacts.
- How has your childhood in Somerset inspired your brand’s ethos?
Growing up, I spent a lot of time outside and have always been inspired by nature. Somerset will always be a part of me – it is somewhere I retreat to for peace of mind and to be inspired. Growing up in Somerset has given me a sense of how important it is to enjoy nature and the peace it brings. How can you not want to share those beautiful views, open spaces and wildlife with future generations? Somerset and my upbringing are definitely a very important part of the DNA of Temperley London; free and romantic.
- Who is the Temperley woman?
The Temperley woman dresses with confidence; she’s not a slave to trends and isn’t afraid to mix the seasons. Her style is effortless and functional yet spirited. Her wardrobe is all encompassing, taking her from day to night.
- What do you consider when sourcing materials?
Ensuring our fabrics are sourced with sustainable and responsible suppliers who allow us to be as transparent as possible with the supply chain is incredibly important to myself and the brand.
- How has the industry changed since you started designing?
Social media and the rise of digital influencers has definitely been one of the biggest changes to the fashion industry since I founded the brand in 2000. The consumer’s appetite for newness and content on platforms such as Instagram is ever growing, and it is important that our brand values and aesthetic remains consistent across all platforms. Staying true to one’s voice and story-telling in an authentic way is more important now than ever before.
- What is Temperley London doing to be more sustainable in 2019?
We’re currently working on a heritage collection, bringing back our core Temperley suiting shapes using British tailoring fabrics from the Temperley archive.
We also recently had a dyeing weekend at my house in Somerset using all-natural dyes to bring a new lease of life to otherwise damaged or faded bridal dresses from our archive. These one-of-a-kind limited-edition dresses are available to buy in our store in Mayfair with a percentage of the profits being donated to Women for Women International.
- Your recent collaboration with BA was a huge success – what things did you consider when opening the space at Heathrow? What challenges did you face?
I wanted to make sure that the space took British Airways passengers into the World of Temperley… To give them an authentic insight into the brand and our aesthetic. It was a first for British Airways as they have never had such an immersive installation before…
- What do you do personally to have a positive impact when you travel?
I take the train when I travel back and forth to Somerset and when I’m in London I walk and use my bike as much as I can.
- Which are your go-to sustainable beauty brands?
My sister’s beauty brand MADE uses all-natural ingredients which is not only better for the planet but better for your skin as well. The products smell incredible too…
- Do you feel businesses have a responsibility to make a change?
Absolutely… we have one planet and we have to make changes now before it’s too late. We all have a responsibility to do what we can to slow down global warming.
- As an employer, what is your approach to sustainability in the workplace – both personal and company-wide?
Personally, I always try to eat local, seasonal food; particularly when I’m at home in Somerset. I support local producers who farm sustainably. By eating local, seasonal foods everyone can help reduce the associated environmental costs.
One of our business objectives over the coming six months is to use up the fabrics from our archive. Reducing our waste as a company is a key focus.
- What is lacking from today’s society – and how can we improve it?
Accountability. This is changing but we still have a long way to go.
- What advice would you give someone starting out in fashion today?
When I first started it was extremely challenging as I was doing absolutely everything on my own. The hardest thing at first is finding loyal, hard-working people who understand the industry and your vision for the brand you’re creating.
Setting up a business is not easy but being young, strong and driven, and possibly a little naïve worked to my advantage. I love making clothes and I am passionate about the process and the textiles. It’s always exciting to see the end result. Being passionate about what you do is the most important thing.
Written by - Severine Etienne