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Exclusive Interview | British Eco Lingerie Queen, Jennifer Ambrose of Enamore
Posted By Julia Ocean On May 25, 2010 @ 7:00 am In Exclusive Interview Series,Style / Fashion / Beauty | 3 Comments
Everyone should know by now I live in London, but I am not really English. I am what you would call a mutt, if I was a dog. I have a little bit of blood from almost every type of culture on the planet. A pinch of French, a dash of English, a smig of Spanish, and a whole lot of other strains I couldn’t even identify, but I know they are in there. All this blood mixture has made me a bit more dark, than your average English girl. You see, the girls around me tend to be more the English purebreds dull types. You know them when you see them on the street, they all have that chocky, blump, and grim face look. For a long time I thought that was just what my fellow mates looked like, but I was wrong. It’s all the dairy, beer and fried fish they suck down. As soon as I started hanging with the G Living crowd, everyone started looking a bit more human or should I say Monkie.
My point is, and I have one, is that G Women just seem to look better and when you look better, you feel better. And when you feel good, you also, feel a whole lot sexier. Which leads me to my point. G Women may feel sexy, but when it comes to vegan / organic options in the Lingerie department, we are completely left out in the cold. We don’t want chemical laden fabrics, we want soft organic sexy fabrics and designs.
Lucky for all of us, dark brooding, 1950 loving “G” club hopping girls, Jennifer Ambrose has created Enamore Limited a vintage Lingerie / Fashion House.
Julia: Why did you start with a eco / green lingerie line? Did you have experience designing lingerie?
Jennifer: Enamore started as a clothing label in 2004 and in 2006 I decided I wanted to create lingerie with the same principle as my clothing range. I didn’t have the skill to make lingerie myself so I approached designer Ayten Gasson to collaborate. The first collections were a mix of hemp/silk and vintage prints, which were a big hit with my customers. In the beginning we were fulfilling all the order from Ayten’s studio so each piece was hand made. Further down the line we parted company to focus on our own ideas. I took over the design work and started to work with a production unit in South Wales.
Julia: The green fashion world is pretty small still. Is there fashion brands or designers you admire n the G / Space?
Jennifer: I really admire Deborah Lindquists work from the USA.
Julia: Who are the designers in the main stream fashion world do you look up too?
Jennifer: Again Deborah Lindquist for ‘green fashion’. I also really admire Vivienne Westwood for her amazing longevity and original ideas.
Julia: What has it been like to startup a new green fashion company? What do you think the biggest surprises have been so far?
Jennifer: Most aspects of starting and running the business have been more difficult than expected. When I started Enamore I was still a home care worker and a waitress on very low income and really struggling to fund my path. I did not have a back round in fashion or business so it took me a few years to really start finding my feet and learning the ropes. Learning in business is a never ending process as is learning to be a better designer. I haven’t been to university to study fashion so there has been a lot to take in learning about manufacturing on top of selling and marketing.
On the plus side, the path I have taken to grow Enamore has changed my entire life. I love work and my confidence and has grown immensely over the last five years. The business has become a way of life and many of the people who I now call my friends I have met as a result of my work. I intend to start teaching sewing workshops in the autumn in my local area to pass skills onto other people.
Julia: How do you think the state of the economy will effect the green movement?
Jennifer: I think although the economy has slowed down somewhat, people are starting to look for quality and long lasting products rather than buying cheap quick fixes, which in the long run costs more as they need to keep being replaced. I am optimistic about Christmas. We are introducing eco-erotic gift hampers for our customers, which I think will be a big hit! Lingerie sale are less affected by recession [here in the UK] as people are staying in more and getting busy!
Julia: What is different about your lingerie and clothing compared to the more traditional fashion companies?
Sara: A pinch of classic, dash of retro and spoonful of gorgeous. One of the main points of difference is the fabrics we use, which include organic cotton, bamboo, organic silk, hemp, wool and soya. We are also looking at modal for our next collection. Our styles are classic with a vintage twist. We design our lingerie to fit comfortably and to look attractive on many body types – not just skinny bottoms.
We add a little eco-cheek to the green market. A lot of labels play it quite safe in terms of the way they promote themselves. I think that because of Enamore’s style and nod to the past, we are able to take more risks in terms of both the designs we develop and they way we present them.
Julia: How import are the fabrics to you? Would you buy conventional fabrics?
Jennifer: The fabrics are very important as we have built our business on eco-friendly principles. We can’t just buy from any supplier, we need to know more about where the fabric comes from and whether they hold certification. I like the challenge of working with only eco-fabrics, but sometimes as a small company it can be frustrating not being able to have my own colours and prints created due to the expense. I am growing the business so eventually I will be able to design my own fabrics.
Julia: How important are the designs or sex appeal, since it is lingerie?
Jennifer: I think that sex appeal is very important to selling lingerie. I work hard to improve our designs every season, and have recently employed a specialist bra designer to create our first underwired bras. Our imagery appeals to both men and women as it’s sexy and cute but not sleazy. We take inspiration from old pin up postcards from the Fifties, which is my favorite era!
Julia: Do you think the giants of the lingerie business might wake up one day go green or is it just impossible for the Victoria Secret’s of the world to do this?
Jennifer: It’s not impossible at all, it just takes a lot more work. There are plenty more new materials coming into the market each season, which will vastly improve the choice for green lingerie manufacturing. Eventually one of the big players will jump on the wagon I’m sure.
Julia: How important has pricing been?
Jennifer: Our lingerie may be a little on the expensive side, but as we manufacture our range in the UK, we can’t get our prices as low as lingerie made in China.
Julia: How “G” or green is your personal life? Do you live here in London?
Jennifer: I don’t live in London, I live in Bath in the west country. We recycle everything we can including compost. I mainly ride my bike and take public transport wherever possible, although sometimes I do borrow my boyfriends car.
Julia: I don’t see a lot of designers creating vintage lingerie lines. Why did you decide on the vintage look and who are you designing for? Why type of woman?
Jennifer: In a way I am still designing for myself, but luckily my customers share my taste! I really try to make garments that will flatter realistic curves so that ladies feel great when they wear Enamore, whether a dress or a pair of knickers. I think I have found a good mix that appeals to men shopping for women and for women shopping for themselves.
Julia: Where do you see the brand going? Do you have some goals your working towards?
Jennifer: We are focusing mainly on major developments within our lingerie range for 2010. Up to now we haven’t been able to offer structured bras, but this is all changing now and we are adding some great new shapes for the next collection. We have a amazing range of hand made nipple tassels and pasties which will be launching on our website over the summer. We are also in the process of re-branding Enamore with a great new look and website. This will also be taking place over the summer in time for the new season.
We would like to eventually be competing with the likes of Agent Provocateur and other more mainstream lingerie brands. We would like to see our range for sale in Liberty’s of London in the future.
Julia: With all of life’s pressures, what makes you laugh?
Jennifer: My boyfriend, Everyday, My friends and Myself
Julia: Are you a traveling type of girl? Do you get out of Bath much?
Jennifer: I love the West of England where I now live. It’s full of amazing old buildings with beautiful landscapes and views. I also love the dramatic landscapes of western Canada, which is where I am originally from.
Julia: Wow, your a Canadian, not a Brit? So you must like to travel. Where have you been?
Jennifer: I love the countryside in France, we’re going back this summer for 2 week, this time to the Alps in the south. The pace of life in France is slower than the UK, and I really enjoy the laid back attitude. Plus the weather is amazing compared to the British summer! I’ve been to Iceland once in July, which was probably the most bizarre as it never got dark. I did feel like I was in a different world.
To see more of Jennifer’s designs, checkout here online shop at enamore.co.uk
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