Stories

Winter Walks with Pennie Fairbairn

By Justine Tabak

Winter Walks with Pennie Fairbairn

On a crisp and slightly windy afternoon in Stoke Newington, I had the pleasure of collaborating with my good friend Jannine Newman on a short series of photos shooting the fabulous Pennie Fairbairn. With a capsule from the collection in hand, we went from my sitting room to door stoops, windy walks through the park and on to local cafe 'The Acoustic'. Jannine, photographer, founder of Under the Cloth and orchestrator of the Assembly Market, introduces us to Pennie...

 

"Pennie Fairbairn is a remarkable woman with a fabulous career behind her, hitting her sixties with incredible style and glamour.

A Stoke Newington local with a lifelong passion for style and creative dressing, she often gets stopped in the street and asked to model, which is exactly how I met her. I followed her out of a charity shop on Stoke Newington Church Street and asked if she'd do some photos with me."                  

 

"She started off in the 70’s buying and selling vintage at Camden market, going on to develop careers with people in nursing, the performing arts, lecturing and psychology. She's a woman of many talents but her love of fashion is still evident, and now in her mid 60’s her passion for interesting and creative style is finely tuned, utterly contemporary and individual. As an older woman she's now being asked to model for some interesting Japanese brands, amongst others. I love the fact that young brands are using older models because fashion should have no age limits."

 

"Justine and I discussed working together with Pennie and Justine's clothes at the last Assembly Market, and I'm so glad we followed it up because it was a really lovely afternoon and collaboration.


It was joyous to see Pennie in Justine Tabak's beautiful clothes and it was a surprise to Pennie who doesn't wear floral or long dresses, to see that she looked absolutely amazing; in the Tartan trousers and jumpers too. In fact, when we were shooting in Newington Green, people were stopping in the street to comment on how incredible she looked in 'that' red Primrose Hill dress. She made it look incredibly wearable, cool yet utterly elegant."
                         

A massive thank you to both Jannine and Pennie for taking the time to collaborate here, it was a pleasure and I hope you enjoyed the afternoon as much as I did.

All pieces Pennie wears can be bought online, with the unfortunate exception of the silk Primrose Hill dress in the longer length. However, we do have more available in the shorter length, sitting just below the knee (see below), perfect for dancing! We also have a select few in alternative colours in the longer length which we couldn't put on the website, so please do get in touch if interested.

If you'd like to see more of Jannine's beautiful photography visit her blog at https://janninenewman.com/ where she also shares her collection of 'preloved to reloved' fashion and homeware ...

Justine x

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Winter Linen

By Justine Tabak

Winter Linen

This week I wanted to share with you one of my favourite pieces from the AW collection. My Galway dress is a special version of the Mill Town shape made in beautiful Black Watch Irish linen, a cloth that has popped up through seasons past and well-loved for it's subtle yet stunning yarn-dyed weave.

I like to champion linen for all it's sustainable properties, but ultimately linen is a favourite because it's so comfortable to wear. Whilst classically worn in summer it's also perfect in winter, being both breathable and retaining warmth. It's durable, natural, anti-bacterial, easy to wash ... I could go on and on!

I've been layering mine over polo necks and under my new roll neck jumpers as the weather has crisped, and after Christmas I'll still be wearing this dress into spring for simple, understated, daytime luxury. 

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend. 

Justine x 

Ps. I'm running slightly low on sizes and won't be able to get any more linen woven this season, so please be aware that sizes may run out.

 

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The making of our Fair Isle jumper

By Justine Tabak

The making of our  Fair Isle jumper

 

A big thank you to all our friends who came to see us on Wednesday night, we had a great time celebrating our Justine Tabak X Wallace Sewell jumpers. After working on our fair isle jumper these last few months, we were excited to unwrap our first delivery and see them look so at home amongst the beautiful weaves at their colourful shop.
I wanted to share with you the 'making of' the jumper, from Scottish yarn to knitting in Oxfordshire, here we present the back story......

Justine x

Way back in April, we started researching by looking at traditional fair isles patterns and then created a slightly more modern geometric version in keeping with the Wallace Sewell aesthetic. Emma Sewell created a digital pattern and then we adapted this into an 'in the round' knitwear design. The soft lambswool yarn came in a huge array of colours, so many to choose from! We finally decided on a refreshing tangerine and a soft mint melange, unexpected, and a modern twist on tradition.

               

Our knitwear manufacturers are based in Oxfordshire. They are a lovely family-run business who operate in the most beautiful surroundings, look at their view!

Here are our mint fair isle jumpers knitting on the machine. The yarns including the contrast colour is fed down through the electronic needles and the jumper appears like magic at the base of the machine. These pieces are knitted in the round, meaning that there are no seams and we have a continuous pattern over the shoulders, something that is unique to this traditional design.

                   

Once they come out of the knitting machine the jumpers come out with quite a dry handle and need to be softened.  This finishing process involves washing, drying and lightly pressing to create a beautiful soft hand feel ( and not at all scratchy! ) 

Here our tangerine jumpers are being quality checked, folded and packed up to be sent for distribution and on to you!

 

Emma and I first road tested our jumper samples when we went walking in the Lake District earlier this year. We decided that these samples were a size Medium ( fitting loosely on a size 10 -12 ) it's really important that we try out our clothes first before putting into production so we can see how they perform and how we like the fit. And once we're happy, of course we see how the jumpers look on our real models! 

These are a limited edition and sold here online or in the Wallace Sewell shop at: 
24 Lloyd Baker St, Islington, London WC1X 9AZ

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Autumn Winter Look Book

By Justine Tabak

Autumn Winter Look Book

Shot in the quiet village of Brent Pelham, Hertfordshire, our second autumn look book was created on a very rainy day back in September. With a steady supply of hot tea and biscuits, the team got into the cosy spirit with velvety corduroys, rich autumnal prints and toasty knits. I'm happy to share with you, as always, the final result. 

Warmest wishes,

Justine x

 
 

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Warming recipes from Rosie Birkett

By Justine Tabak

Warming recipes from Rosie Birkett

I'm not a huge lover of a modern Halloween, with all the single use plastic it encourages, but I enjoy the spirit of fun and sense of community it can inspire and I'm amazed at the increasing creativity carved into the doorstep pumpkins that glow and  beckon local children for trick or treating. I bought mine the other day, and if I can encourage my grown-up children to indulge me we'll be carving it up tonight. As for what I'll do with it come tomorrow, I'll be saving every last piece and cooking up a storm via recipes from the wonderful Rosie Birkett who always manages to create delicate yet hearty dishes that I crave this time of year. 

I've collated two of my favourite Rosie recipes from her books 'The Joyful Home Cook' and 'A lot on her plate'. One is a warming winter squash soup with chipotle, roasted garlic and crusty seeds, and one a mushroom, squash and halloumi stroganoff, but within both you can substitute the squash for pumpkin to make the most of your carved creations. Delicious! 

 

Thanks Rosie as ever, I certainly can't wait to make this over the weekend... Like you I'll be wearing my classic cord to keep warm, whether it's my Brighton crop trousers with boots as I watch the fireworks on Saturday night at my local Clissold park, or the favourite Mill Town dress lounging around on a lazy Sunday. Bliss!

 

 

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Tartan British Wool for a New Brighton Crop Trouser

By Justine Tabak

Tartan British Wool for a New Brighton Crop Trouser

Whilst I'm known for dresses, sometimes I also like to pull on a comfy pair of trousers and a slouchy jumper. This season we took the plunge and decided to develop the very first JT trouser - the Brighton Crop. Available in a soft chunky cord in navy and rust, and in soft British tartan wool, the shape is designed to pull on as easily as a pyjama whilst looking modern and flattering. 

The tartan wool version featured today is made out of a beautiful cloth milled right here in Yorkshire. Abraham Moon & Sons has been making wools since 1837 from the community in Guiseley, between Leeds and the Yorkshire Dales. Originally pieces were woven within homes like many cottage industries at the time, then were collected and paid for by the company who went on to wash, hang dry in local fields and finally sell at Leeds market.

In 1869 Abraham Moon bought the mill where the company is still located today, using the same original pure water springs for scouring (washing) as they did back then. Although the original mill burnt down in 1902, the facility was rebuilt on the same grounds because of the natural soft water supply available, and over time the mill became fully vertical - meaning all manufacturing processes took place on site.

Over the years Moons persevered in a changing economy; where many brands were opting for man-made fibres and looking to foreign suppliers to cut costs, Moons stood the test of time because of their focus on quality. By keeping the mill vertical they were able to control the consistency of their product, producing a fabric that, whilst not cheap, is symbiotic with luxury. 

The process of making beautiful wool, such as my red tartan wool used in the Brighton crop, can be followed through 8 separate processes ...

 

High quality raw wool is bought from proven sources predominantly from New Zealand and South Africa.

Raw wool is taken to the internal dye house where it's dyed to one of their 500 shades. The recipes are kept top secret!

Up to 7 different colours are blended within each yarn to create the finished colour. This variation creates the rich depth of shade, for example within the pure red of my check there could be up to 7 different dyed shades.

Carding is the process of running the blended wool through a series of combed rollers that first tease the fibres one way then the other. This removes impurities and helps to produce a smooth and soft fabric.

Fibres are wound onto a spool and spun into a fine but strong yarn. 

Warping takes place, with up to 2000 threads wound over a drum to make a warp (lengthwise threads) for weaving a width of fabric. This is a complicated process and needs to be accurate to produce precise patterns. 

Fabrics are woven using automatic looms that take the weft across the warp threads. Every inch of fabric is inspected three times to ensure quality and accuracy. 

Fabric is scoured using pure spring water from below the mill, is milled and then dried. Fabric is finished by careful pressing and steaming to ensure shrinkage is removed.

Throughout the process of making wool at Moons, sustainability is considered at every stage. For example, all farms they buy raw wool from ensure their sheep live in ethical conditions with plenty of grassland to roam and feed upon. Only eco-friendly detergents are used in the washing process, and being a 100% natural and renewable fibre the fabric doesn't affect the food chain at the end of its lifecycle.

If you'd like to learn any more about Abraham Moons please do visit their website at:

https://www.moons.co.uk/

I hope you love my new Brighton Crop trouser as much as we loved creating it for you!

Justine x

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Our new Ladbroke Grove Dresses ....... and how to care for them

By Justine Tabak

Our new Ladbroke Grove Dresses ....... and how to care for them

With Autumn fully fledged, we're showcasing our new Ladbroke Grove dress. Made in Liberty's famous tana lawn in two beautiful archive prints, this flowing dress is based on our best-selling Primrose Hill shape, adapted with a higher, cosier neckline and a long sleeve that can be worn down or 'scrunched up' to the elbow. As are all my dresses, this style is forever easy and covers all seasons; layer over tights and a polo if really nippy, and come spring you'll be pulling up the sleeves when the sun shines. 

I decided to make this dress in cotton, not traditionally a 'winter' fabric, but I always think natural fabrics have all year round appeal being kind to the skin, easy to wear layered up or down and breathable so you don't build up a sweat in central heating. We've also been doing our research into all our cottons, the huge use of water in the production of cotton has been widely publicised and we've discovered that Liberty have done some amazing work behind the scenes to make their classic cotton as sustainable as possible. This cotton is Oeko-tex certified and made in conjunction with the Better Cotton Initiative, a collective movement to promote better cotton farming practises, non polluting dyes, safe for the environment and the customer.

Natural fibres, when sourced thoughtfully, cause less harm throughout their lifecycle. Natural fabrics will biodegrade, and unlike synthetics, will not shed micro plastics into the water system when washed. In terms of washing, I always recommend washing at a low temperature. This keeps your clothes in tip top condition whilst also saving precious energy usage. Cotton should be fine on a 30 degrees wash, using a gentle detergent such as a non-bio. In softest Liberty Tana Lawn, the dress can be simply hung straight from the washing machine and should be dry and pretty much crease free by the morning. 

Ultimately we're all just trying to do our best, and the best tip I could give would be to try to wash clothes less frequently, using less water and saving energy. Sometimes all a cotton dress needs is a simple airing by an open window to feel fresh and ready to be worn again. 

My Ladbroke Grove dresses, in' 'Tatton and 'Sissinghurst' prints, are both in stock and available to buy now. 

Warmest wishes 

Justine x

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Autumn One Look Book

By Justine Tabak

Autumn One Look Book

The first leaves have fallen and early Autumn is upon us ... 

We've been quietly launching some new pieces behind the scenes, uploading styles as they arrive from their makers, so I thought it a good time to share my new look book 'Autumn 1' with you. Taken on a crisp morning in Hackney marshes, north London, these pictures epitomise the transitional spirit I strive to encapsulate in my collections with a cross over from late summer to the first nip of Autumn ; cotton dresses worn over tights and under jumpers for cooler days, velvety soft cord taking you from September into April, and linen to layer over polo necks so they can be worn all year through. 

All pieces seen are available to order now, but some styles in 'deadstock' fabrics do have limited sizing left so please check. More coming soon as we head into Autumn proper. 

Justine x

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