About a year ago, I had an idea for a line of handcrafted aprons that wouldn’t just cover you up; they’d be desirable and beautiful garments in their own right that people who make and do things wanted to wear.
In my head I’d dreamed of materials like waxed cotton, leather and brass fixings. I even had a name: Aabelard. Aabelard would be: Useful made beautiful.
That was the easy part. Bringing the idea to life would mean discovering a range of new skills, not least learning how to work with these new materials. I found the person, the place and the knowledge at the Rebecca Jane Leather Sewing School. Rebecca Jane is highly accomplished, has her own handbag line and a pedigree of working in fashion houses in Paris and London.
Best of all she’s a wonderful and patient teacher as I discovered when I enrolled on a one-to-one course.
Sitting in Rebecca Jane’s beautiful brick studio in Surrey, flooded in daylight, I discovered how to hand draw patterns, cut and sew leather, skive, glue and polish and to make my vision a reality.
There’s a moment when you realize you might be on to something, but it didn’t quite hit me until we’d finished the first prototype. Suddenly in my hands was a product I really believed in. A beautiful garment that both Rebecca Jane and I kept trying on and admiring in the mirror. My front room became a workshop, and I’ve never been so happy to see the place utterly cluttered with bags, stuffed full of these previously foreign materials that had now created the luxurious, durable aprons I’d imagined.
It’s one thing to design a garment but then you have to see it work. I tried the aprons on anyone who came to the house - from the 6’ 6” audio engineer to the petite 20 year-old to the well-padded pensioner. A Czech friend, Denisa offered to stand very still for a very long time while we worked on the finer details of the breastplate. The tweaking of the design didn’t stop there and a passing comment from one of our real-life photographic models made me rethink the pocket strength and add another row of stitching and support facings for the rivets. Everyone was enthused; even those who’d had a bemused look on their face when I became excited about aprons.
People began buying the prototypes as we were photographing them. Here’s my first official customer: Jordan from Almost Angels Tattoo Family who couldn’t wait to get his hands on one (while he was working on a client). Looking like that, who else would you trust with your tattoo?