Originally, I didn't set out to create a clothing label. I simply couldn't find a pair of board shorts that fit. One memorable shopping trip with my Mum as a vulnerable 14-year-old resulted in many tears. Apparently, my bum and thighs were too big and waist too small. At the end of the day, my Mum announced we were going to make our own.
Actually, we never did make those board shorts, but she did show me how to make my first pair of pants. That was it, I was hooked! Then followed my teens in the late 90's, with many excellent pairs of un-hemmed flared pants which required safety pins to hold them up. Funky patchwork skirts cut from old sheets and tops with random bits of found objects lovingly sewn onto them.
Needless to say, as I got older my taste refined somewhat and I decided to give this sewing thing a real go. I never did any formal training but learned from experimentation and from books. My market stall soon followed and that's where the real education began. I began to see my clothing on every shape and size under the rainbow. So after a bit of tweaking here and adjusting there, Gwyllem designs became known for their seriously good fit.
I love the term slow fashion. This embodies the ethos of Gwyllem. I prefer not to follow fashion trends, but rather to think carefully about what is practical to wear and flattering to a woman's body. So you will find styles that remain for years with variations in colour and print. This way, when you find something you absolutely love, you will be able to find it again.
It gives me a real buzz to produce ethically made clothes. Gwyllem is run from a solar-powered studio on an “off the grid” bush community on the NSW North coast. I use certified organic cotton as my base fabric which is also made in Australia, in one of the few remaining fabric mills. And I am lucky enough to collaborate with my artist neighbour, Dalee Ella who does gorgeous hand block-printing on my designs.
For years I made each and every piece myself, but that is just no longer possible! So to keep up with the high demand of online sales, I’ve enlisted some expert help.
Eddie is my cutting man, who works for himself out of his small workshop in the hinterland of Mullumbimby. Beside a crystal clear creek, surrounded by tall eucalypts, Eddie works in a truly magical part of the world. I supply Eddie with fabric and patterns, he lays it all out, chalks it up, cuts and rolls the garments into lovely little parcels. This is a man with great pride in his work.
I have an expert seamstress whipping up Gwyllem styles out of her home studio in Mullumbimby. We are able to talk through designs and brainstorm the best finishes for each style. And she enlists help when the orders get full on! It's a blessing to have local makers to call on.
Although I may no longer be sewing every garment myself, you can have full confidence that your Gwyllem clothes have come from a 100% ethical source. Supporting people working for themselves, doing the thing they love, right here in Australia!