CLAIRE RITCHIE

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Tell us a little bit about yourself - how did you get started making clothing? 

I started sewing when I was about 13 I think. My mum had a studio and I would sneak in and use her sewing machine. She later bought me my own from a second hand shop and I would stay up until all hours making pencil cases and denim skirts, which I made using recycled denim strips. I would also buy second hand clothes and pull them apart to make patterns. I’ve alway been fascinated with how things are put together. 

 
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Your affinity for color is fantastic - can you elaborate on why you're drawn to color, and what impact it has on your clothes? 

It’s my emotions that draw me to colour. Colour makes me happy. Different colours talk to different people, they can make you feel a certain way. I think that is pretty cool. You don’t have to talk, you can say what you want through colours and shapes… I do love to talk though :) 

 
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You use a digital printing method for your patterns - can you talk a little bit about how you came by that method, and why you use it? 

I used to screen print my work. This wasn’t an option in my current studio so I looked to what else I could do to easily produce my own patterns on fabric. It was also a way to outsource, I was pattern making, designing and sewing all of my products myself. It’s a lot when it’s all going on at once - I had to let go of something! Digital printing was new for me and I was a little apprehensive about how the pattern on the screen would translate onto the fabric. It’s amazing though. The texture of fabric really brings the pattern to life. I was also looking into ways of minimizing my impact on the environment, the fashion industry is second only to agriculture in terms of water usage - digital printing doesn’t use any water so that was a huge positive. 

 
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What does the process look like when you're coming up with a new pattern? Could you walk us through your workflow?

So I always start with drawings on paper. I make a cup of tea and pop my head phones on and just draw. Some times I have reference work, other times I’ve had an idea fizzing away for a while and just stop what I’m doing, probably making the kids dinner… ha, and go crazy with a drawing or two.

 
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Can you talk about a setback you experienced when running your business What did you learn from it? 

There are too many to choose from! I have setbacks daily. But I try not to view them as setbacks - I do my best to pull something positive from each mistake, learn what I can and then move on. There’s no point dwelling on it. 

 
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What does "slow fashion" mean to you? 

In my mind, slow fashion means buying less and buying better quality items that will last longer. It means carefully and thoughtfully choosing items that can become timeless staples in your wardrobe. I think it’s important to support other makers and independent designers, it’s great to see people gravitating back towards handmade and handcrafted clothing. When you know how much time and care has gone into the creation of a garment it adds a whole new value to what you are wearing - it’s a feeling you don’t get from buying an item that has been mass produced. 

 
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Who are other women creatives in the slow fashion movement that you admire? What do you admire about them?

The first women that come to mind are friends of mine who make their own clothes. I admire their quiet commitment to the slow fashion movement, by simply making clothing they can wear on a daily basis - how cool is that?

In terms of designers, Alice Nightingale has recently grabbed my attention - she’s doing something really different. She upcycles fabric, embroiders, hand prints her garments, she creates truly unique pieces using a great mix of skills.

 
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Where do you see your business going in the future? Do you have a main goal you're working towards?

I’m kind of just letting things go in whichever direction feels right at the time. But I do know that I want to have a positive impact on the world in my own small way. Everything feels so disposable these days, particularly when it comes to fashion. I love making clothing but have always felt guilty adding to the mountain of stuff out there. I now see that I can use what I do to educate others, to inspire people to think more carefully about what they buy and why.

 

 

Check Claire out on Instagram and her website.

And check out her Ten Facts feature here.