Nancy Dee - Keeping it British
Tamsin studied Film and Social Policy with Economics before spending a year travelling around Asia discovering how a different culture works socially and economically and how trade can lift areas out of poverty.
Seraphina, focused more in fashion and design, says, “It was Tamsin who sparked my initial interest in clothes. She used to make her own clothes on our grandmother’s ancient Singer hand-turned sewing machine. I would plead with her to make me things, which didn’t happen very often! Eventually, she showed me how to do it myself, how to make very basic trousers and skirts. From that moment I was hooked on fashion, and went on to study fashion and textiles at school and uni.
“I graduated from Surrey Institute of Art and Design in 2004 and was commissioned to design and make a small collection of women’s clothes for a friend’s boutique in Cornwall. To my delight it was a great success. Then I began selling my designs at Camden Market and later the Up Market in Brick Lane.”
When Tamsin returned from her travels and was seeking a new challenge, dad pointed out to his daughters that by joining forces they might create something unique. The girls met up for lunch and decided to become business partners and created the Nancy Dee label.
They wanted to provide an ethical and sustainable alternative to mainstream fast fashion, a product that would not be harmful to the people involved in the process or to the environment. Fair wages must be paid, health and safety standards adhered to and the workplace conditions to be of a high standard.
“The demand for eco-friendly clothing is slowly increasing,” said Seraphina. Admittedly some parts of the world are more eco-conscious than others but ultimately the demand is for fashionable clothing that is good value – and by that I mean cost per wear – something that is not going to fall apart after a couple of washes!
“The materials that we use are organic cotton, soya bean, bamboo, linen and silk, made from fibers extracted from renewable sources. They are grown naturally so the land can be re-used after each harvest, and unlike petroleum-based synthetic materials, they are fully biodegradable.
“All of our collections are designed and made in Britain. By importing the fabrics by sea and manufacturing locally we dramatically reduce air miles. It is also important to preserve the specialist skills that we have here in Britain.
“I have always been very interested in the history of fashion, which is something I bring to the design at Nancy Dee. Designs are very vintage inspired, whether it’s the silhouette of a style or the print design. The 1930s, 40s, and 70s are my favourite eras. But I also have a great interest in today’s street style. People, out and about in London are a great source of inspiration. It’s important to be aware of what’s going on around you, such as in films, tv, music, bands, icons… they are all very relevant to the design process.
“Although Tamsin concentrates more on the business and photography side of the company, her years of travel have influenced her appreciation of colour and print, which are equally important within the new collections.”
Nancy Dee dresses are not fashion-fad, one-season wonders but are designed to be longwearing, versatile and unique. From sourcing the yarn through to the finished piece the production takes six months. A set quantity of each style is produced making each range a true limited edition.
Seraphina’s top fashion tips:
Be true to the things you love, it’s really important to feel comfortable in whatever you wear to feel confident.
Consider your body shape when choosing styles. Just because something is bang on trend doesn’t always mean it’s going to suit you, so don’t be a victim to it!
Don’t be afraid of trying new looks, be bold and carry yourself with confidence. That alone will make you look amazing.
Don't buy something because it is a bargain - There are currently £1.6 billion of unworn women's clothes hanging in wardrobes across the UK. Even if it costs a little more, buy the dress that you LOVE above all others.
For more information visit www.nancydee.co.uk