Catherine Greenwood - founder of Tilly Ann Childrenswear
PUBLISHED: 00:00 14 November 2019
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Preston mum is showing that traditional British style isn't going out of fashion.
There was a time when children dressed in tweed jackets, matched with flat caps or dainty pinafores set over a simple white shirt. And now a Preston mum is working to revive this traditional style.
Catherine Greenwood, 27, founder and head designer of Tilly Ann Childrenswear is bringing back these classic stylings, specialising in traditional garments for the newest generation.
The idea for the company came to Catherine, who while pregnant with her first child, struggled to find children's outfits that had been designed and created in Britain.
'There are many British designers but most of their items are then created in places such as China. I didn't want to buy clothes that had been shipped around the world and I believed other mothers felt the same,' Catherine says. 'I also found that many designers didn't have a lot of options for childrenswear. It was always a small snippet of a collection, usually very expensive.'
Having studied at the London College of Fashion, before taking a degree at Edge Hill with plans to be a technology teacher, Catherine decided to use her creativity and knowledge to launch her own line of childrenswear.
'It all started when one of my friends asked if I could make her child a tweed waistcoat. So I sketched out the design, bought the fabric and created something of my own that I was so proud of. My friend loved it and that's when the idea that I could create my own line of clothing started to grow.'
Lancashire was once the powerhouse of the cotton industry and Catherine believes bringing fashion back to our doorstep is entirely possible.
'I have a similar philosophy to the concept 'field to fork' but with fashion as opposed to food,' she says.
'When clothes are shipped back to the UK after being created abroad, they can spend up to six weeks sitting in shipping containers, sometimes coated in pesticides that aren't even legal in the UK.
'When it comes to the clothes your children wear, you can't be too careful. That's why everything from my collection is designed and created here in Britain.' Catherine works from her home studio in Hutton near Preston and with her brand growing, she now has a small team of dedicated seamstresses to create the garments.
'I have people in Cheshire and Manchester who understand my ideas and scribbles and work exceedingly hard to help bring my collection to life.
'We only use UK manufacturers and suppliers to make our garments and we hand select every component used to create our clothing.'
Tilly Ann, named after her mother's childhood nickname, is inspired by the clothing Catherine wore as a child.
'My mum used to dress me in very traditional outfits. When she brings out childhood photos, I'd see myself in a certain outfit and before I know it, I've designed something similar.'
Though Tilly Ann's focus is on bringing back the quintiessential British look, comfort and quality is priority.
'Being a mum of two, I know first-hand that if a child doesn't like something, they will not wear it. They will always come back dirty and they grow exceedingly quickly.'
With her knowledge of being a parent, and two adorable children to use as models, her garments are made with a child's comfort in mind. The flat caps are elasticised so can be worn over a number of years, her clothing is 100% lined with cotton and the tweed, created over the border in Yorkshire, is soft enough for children's skin.
'I want my clothes to be investment pieces, focusing on being affordable yet with excellent quality. We even offer a bespoke service where a customer can choose their own tweed and we tailor it to their needs, perfect for any special occasion.'
The company, though still relatively new is making strides in the fashion world, already being stocked in Rufford's in Garstang and she has received letters from her local MP for her work on bringing the focus of fashion to Lancashire.
'Fashion is great way to express your individuality and I think we should instil that in children. Each day gives you the ability to express who you are as a person and I'm happy to be part of an industry that focuses on that. Though children are tricky customers, seeing them wear my designs shows that I'm in the right profession.'
See the latest collections at tillyannkids.co.uk.