This post is from the PARROT Talks archive.
PARROT Talks was always designed as a platform for me to speak with, learn from or be inspired by other small businesses and creative people – and then share all of that with you – but this week I really felt as though my interview ticked every single one of those boxes, and then some! Speaking with Rosie Toms, Founder and Creative Director of clothing brand Winifred Rose was such an insightful and inspirational conversation. Rosie truly lives and breathes everything about her beautiful and creative brand, and I could feel every ounce of her passion for what she does throughout our conversation. I hope you enjoy reading it and do go and take a look at her brand new collection – which launches today (12.06.20), it’s a real treat.
All of the images I have used in this blog post have come from @winifredroseclothing
Hi Rosie! Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and your background, and how that led to you starting Winifred Rose?
Hi PARROT! My name is Rosie, and I am the Creative Director and Founder of Winifred Rose. I adore beautiful things and am an absolute magpie for sparkles; I live for art, print, colour, pattern, and of course, glorious clothes! I am also at my most joyful at a music festival, dancing in a field to amazing music with gorgeous people. It was this mash up of things which led to me starting Winifred Rose!The path that led me to this point goes something like this… studying Fashion Design at Kingston University, moving to Stockholm to work for H&M, back to London and a job at Religion Clothing, and then making the move to Bristol where Winifred Rose was born in a beautiful studio overlooking my favourite city.
Where does the name Winifred Rose come from?
My name is Rosie Emily Winifred, so I jigged it around to make Winifred Rose!
Sustainability is a huge part of your brand ethos; is that something that has evolved in more recent times or did you always intend for Winifred Rose to be environmentally conscious?
The sustainability of the brand has definitely been something that has grown to be more important over the years, but I always knew that I wanted Winifred Rose to be the antithesis to fast fashion. It has always been big on our agenda to make clothes that are made to last and to cherish for years to come. Encouraging consumers to ‘buy well, buy less’ is key to the brand.
What are some of the key sustainability elements to the brand?
This season we are launching our first fully sustainable collection using recycled Econyl Lycra, which has been an important step for the brand. We are also making face masks and scrunchies which use up the small scraps of fabric that get left over, minimising waste. All the other bits of sequins and unrecycled polyester fabric that can’t be used to make anything are being put into plastic bottles, known as ‘Eco Bricks’, which we are using as insulation for a house we are building.
What sort of things inspire you?
It was Vogue magazine which first got me hooked on fashion; I had a subscription from the age of 12 and was obsessed with the glossy editorial spreads. I’m still hugely inspired by editorial shoots, photographers like Tim Walker, David LaChapelle and Nick Knight have and always will be a great love of mine, this may also have something to with the fact that my Dad is a fashion photographer! Art is also a big source of inspiration to me. I studied Fine Art at school, and went into my foundation year thinking I would study Fine Art at university, and so when I chose to study Fashion instead, I viewed it as a way of making art that you could wear. I think I have come full circle with this actually; going from studying, to working within the world of high street fashion, to then beginning my brand and outsourcing production, to now making pieces myself again and pouring my creative self into each piece, lovingly crafting each garment. I would say each piece you buy from the sequin collection this season is a piece of wearable art! Also the recycled Econyl collection features prints by artists Emotional Waterfall Art and Marta Zubieta, again art you can wear! A few artists who are currently making art that I am loving at the moment are Dan Lam – drippy, trippy sculptures; Hrafnhildur Arnardottir – an Icelandic artist who goes under the name Shoplifter who takes fluff to a whole new level of beautiful; and Pip and Pop who create crazy, pastel coloured, dreamscapes.
Sequins and all things shiny are a big part of your aesthetic – can you talk about why you are so drawn to the glitziest of fabrics?
Scientists have actually looked into why we are attracted to shiny, sparkly things and apparently it’s because of our human need for, and attraction, to water – the sparkles mimic the way water glistens! So in answer to that question, Science! Jokes aside, I love the cross over between clothing and costume, creating a dream-like, fantasy world through the clothes you wear. The way sequins sparkle is otherworldly to me, it’s definitely an obsession.
The whole point behind the PARROT Talks blog is to spread the word of small businesses and support each other. Can you tell us some of the other small businesses you love online that we ought to check out?
Ooh ok, how long do you have?! I think the future is small businesses, knowing where your clothes and products come from and knowing exactly where your money is going is key to progress within this consumer driven world.Some of the clothing brands I am loving at the moment are Loonigans (@loonigans), Carbs (@wearcarbs), House of Aris (@house.of.aris), Slashed by Tia (@tiaadeola), and Lucy and Yak (@lucyandyak) .Some beautiful accessories brands which I adore; Headspace Headdresses (@headspace_headdresses), The Fantasy Tribe (@thefantasytribe), and Sass and Halo (@sassandhalo).Also if you are looking for the pop up bar of dreams then check out Lucky Pineapple (@luckypineapplebar), who is also releasing at home cocktail making kits.And for when weddings are a thing again, Tiger Moth (@tigermothlondon) makes the most stunning bridal wear. And one last one… some friends of mine have just released a new sustainable, refillable, aluminium free deodorant, called Fussy (@wearefussy).
Your brand new collection launches today – can you tell us a bit about the pieces and inspiration behind the collection?
The collection that is launching today, “It’s My Party” is all about shiny, beautiful SEQUINS! We have selected the best quality, most beautiful sequin fabric we could find and taken the energy of Studio 54 and the iconic looks of Cher and Grace Jones to create fabulous flares, gorgeous tops and beautiful dresses all hand crafted by myself in our studio. It feels like a true reflection of the Winifred Rose brand ethos and I am SO excited to show it to the world.
What is next for Winifred Rose?
We are releasing our sustainable swimwear and Lycra collection in early July, also we have something pretty exciting on the cards that I can’t reveal quite yet, but let’s just say it combines the Winifred Rose aesthetic, with something you do at home or in the garden, potentially on a yoga mat…!
And finally… can you give us any recommendations? It could be absolutely anything!
I literally can’t work without listening to a podcast, at the moment I have ‘In the Dark’ on, I’m addicted to crime and investigatory podcasts and this is a pretty fantastic one, ‘Criminal’ is also brilliant. Cold brew coffee has been getting me through lockdown, just simply make coffee in your cafetiere with cold water instead of hot, and leave over night in the fridge to brew! I’m currently reading ‘Period Power’ by Maisie Hill, which is all about understanding and harnessing the power of your monthly cycle, it’s fab, and it’s making me keep a little daily diary which is a great form of self care. Also Boiler Rooms lockdown series of livestreams are fulfilling a little part of my need for live music, and a great excuse to put on some sequins and pretend I’m in a basement club or a field again!