Oxford-based Bianca Elgar is an award-winning designer dedicated to slow fashion and passionate about both supporting British industry and preserving the manufacturing heritage in the UK. All her pieces are designed and made in Britain. Her best-selling product, Skinny Scarves, supports three charities: Alzheimers, Look Good Feel Better and the Royal Trinity Hospice.
BE: Well, it’s my designs, which I launched about five years ago under own name. I’ve made lots of mistakes, though, along the way. I came up with the idea of a sleeve scarf, which isn’t an easy thing to bring to market because so unusual. I also came up with the notion of versatility in fashion so that things can be worn in different ways, at a time when that wasn’t quite understood, whereas I think now it is more understood.
BE: I’m always inspired by statement pieces and having something to say with what I create. It has to be about good design, using good design and good craftsmanship to enhance sustainability – that’s what I like to do. Creating beautiful things is a bit like creating good art: by using the right paints, materials and canvas things become treasures and say something about their owner too. You wouldn’t dispose of a beautiful piece of art and these pieces aren’t disposable either.
BE: I’m working on home accessories at the moment – different cushions, round, very large, embroidered, made with Scottish linen – all statement pieces. I’m using the language of flowers. I created an award-winning collection including forget-me-not, rose and passion flowers and I’m using those prints as cushions and working on a special tea cosy too! I’m all about putting a bit of personality into one’s wardrobe and one’s home. In a world full of little black dresses and grey sofas and grey walls, I want to add some colour and meaning.
BE: I design everything myself, focusing on quality printing, beautiful colours and high ink penetration. I have my print printed in Britain, which is a starting point but also I don’t always use Londoners – I like to find high quality independent people who have the same vision as me, but who aren’t necessarily in the city. In the case of my prints, my people are in Macclesfield.
BE: We need to stop buying and disposing of things. Fast fashion isn’t helping the planet! As designers we are responsible for using investment and fabrics well. People need to learn it’s not just about going shopping and buying lots of new things all of the time. Luxury needn’t mean indulgence or decadence. It should be about good design, and statement pieces. (Just like good art.) So I’d say start by investing in quality staples like a capsule wardrobe and then change the look of those staples by adding statement accessories. For example, you can make a little black dress inspiring by wearing it with your statement belt, jewellery, scarves and/or shoes.