Illustration by Mina Bach
I went to university with Toria and Beck, surrounded by the bright lights that are Cornwall county. I met them in a pub (jovial Jacobs), through my boyfriend when we started seeing each other. I thought they were beautiful woodland creatures as we all danced a merry jig in the pub that night. I quickly found them to be gorgeous people too. Fabulous times were had with the creative darlings, dancing around their house and discussing everything and nothing. They were always sporting splendid garments and accessories. As textile designers, fabric is of course a creative tool for them, but with Toria and Beck, their clothing also illustrates their personalities and innate creativity. They are SO talented. It was no surprise that they started a business together in Hereford after we graduated. They work inspiring others and making utterly stunning clothing, bespoke and awe-inspiring, for the ethical and beauty loving men and women of the world.
Victoria Geary and Rebecca Goddard
I caught up with Toria, and asked her about Pretty Rubbish, women in business and inspiration.
Hello, please introduce yourselves.
So… we are Pretty Rubbish. The creative offspring of the partnership between textile/fashion designers myself, Victoria Geary and Rebecca Goddard. We are an eco-couture company devoted to making beautiful bespoke items of recycled fashion. Along the way we have endeavoured as much as we can to inspire, promote and teach others about the beauty, wonder and importance of re-using second hand materials.
Illustration by Abby Wright
How would you describe your designs?
Each of our designs is a complete one off… We start off with our original garment, which could be anything from a vintage Harris tweed jacket, to a worn out silk dressing gown or vintage curtain, and with a bit of experimentation, research, draping, folding, pinning, tucking, cutting and stitching we develop something of beauty, all the while trying to make the most of the original garments best features. For example you may find that original front panels on a tweed jacket have been re-cut to form tailored tails on one of our fitted gilets, or a tiny hidden pocket which may have once been a coat lining transplanted onto an oversized neck ruffle on a re-cut cropped jacket. We love the creative process and the story that each of our garments tells, we are constantly learning and being inspired by these new ‘old’ materials.
Where are you based?
We are now based in Herefordshire, we have a beautiful little workshop in a converted barn in the middle of no-where pretty much. We also have our own little stall within a gorgeous new vintage recycled boutique in Ludlow in Shropshire called The Wear-House. Herefordshire and Shropshire are two stunning counties, we decided to set up here as it was our home turf and there was very little going on in the recycled fashion front back here. It’s a widely artistic area, the tourist industry is booming in the summer with events like the Ludlow food festival and Hay Literary Festival on our doorsteps. What with there being so much countryside too it made way perfectly for our classic country-chic range of tweed jackets that’s the foundation of what we do.
Illustration by Danielle Shepherd
What’s your background?
Beck and I met in Hereford in 2004 doing the Foundation Course in Art and Design, Hitting it off immediately we shared an almost identical outlook on life, design, taste and…wardrobe. We both went on to study textiles at Falmouth in Cornwall.
Since being very young I had made my own clothes, using sewing machines at eight years old to make my own costumes, and was always thinking up different and somewhat odd ways of wearing my clothes. I left college the first time around at 18 and after a 4 year gap year travelling, working and managing in various fashion shops and boutiques I decided it was time to get back to learning, and take my knowledge of textiles and fashion further. Cornwall was a proverbial Mecca for eco and recycled fashion, it really lit the way to my future career.
Beck had always aspired to be a teacher, her flair for design and her non-stop enthusiasm for being creative was so inspiring. We worked together, lived together and socialised together, and after being told often throughout Uni that our work was too similar we jumped at the chance to set up our own company when we moved back up to the Welsh Borders… And so was born Pretty Rubbish!
Illustration by Fritha Strickland
What inspires your designs?
Our designs are inspired by many things, Beck and I work in slightly different ways now, which I think makes each one of our items more unique. History and storytelling plays a massive part in what we do. Personally, I am inspired by historical costume, the cut of a jacket or a bustle, the shape of a neckline or drape of a skirt. I love visiting vintage shops and museums, finding old pattern books and costumes to examine. All the while being inspired also by the garment I’m working with, its own history and design features. Beck loves vintage fabrics, lace buttons and beads. She’s a fabulous with embellishment, and has a natural eye for colour and combining fabrics, and much like myself; believes that each item we use has a past story and a tale yet to tell. Fashion designers such as Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen have been a big inspiration for us… High street companies like Traid and All Saints are also great, and we probably wouldn’t be here without inspiration from the Brighton based Company ‘Sow’s Ear’ who we came across in Falmouth. They really showed us that creating a recycled fashion business was a real possibility, and here we are now.
How do you use recycled materials?
We use recycled materials as much as we possibly can hence why we’re called Pretty Rubbish. We get in there and make stuff out of things- its all about the creative process, being brave enough to get a pair of scissors and cut something up to make something else. We want to show people that ‘fashion doesn’t have to cost the earth’ and that ‘textiles isn’t just about doilies and cross stitch’…both through promoting our clothing, selling it and doing community workshops with those who dare. It’s an easy, cheap, economical way to have fun, get creative and go home with something beautiful or something you’ve made yourself… It’s a great feeling when someone stops you and says’ I love what you’re wearing’ and you can say ‘Thanks, I made it myself’ or even better ‘ It’s a Pretty Rubbish Bespoke Original… I had it made for me out of my granddad’s riding Jacket’ or something of the sort…. You get what I mean.
The Shop at the Wear-House
Is it hard being entrepreneurial young women?
It can be pretty hard being entrepreneurial young women at times. We started the business with very little money, and as with any creative business it can be a very ‘hand to mouth’ existence, we’re always looking for new ways to make our way, sponsors, promotion, new venues to stock our goods, markets festivals to take our stall to. What with the nature of what we do a lot of time, effort and love goes into each thing we make, so at times keeping up with demand and keeping on top of costs if a shop or person wants a number of items can be pretty tricky, we’re still in the teething stages and judging the market can be quite hard at the moment… Due to this we’re now focusing on setting Pretty Rubbish up as more of a bespoke service, a lot of what we do already is made to order, but we’re re-doing our website over the next few months to facilitate this more and hope to have it live for spring/summer.
Illustration by Fritha Strickland
How do you relax?
Funnily enough making my own clothes started off as a hobby for me, and all my spare relaxation time used to be spent doing that. Nowadays I do indulge in making something for myself every now and again, but I try get out of the house whenever I can. We both live pretty rurally, Beck with her husband Bill in a beautiful old Vintage truck in the Welsh mountains and Me with my scruffy little terrier in another barn flat next to the workshop, or at my other half’s place near Hay-on-Wye. Getting out for fresh air is pretty easy and important, we have a lot of dinner parties, get dressed up, go to the city every now and then if we’re feeling brave, and flush. Summer’s normally taken up with festivals which we attend for both business and pleasure. I love this time a we spend a good few months in the build up to it making a lot more quirky stuff than we stock in the shop, we can be more wild and free with what we do, and people seem to love it, we have plenty of ideas for both this years and next years festival season, I think it’s the time our company really comes to life again, its what I live for.
What’s the future for Pretty Rubbish?
As for our future… We’re setting ourselves up as a bespoke online service so we can work to order throughout the year, and have a festival shop during the summer months. At the moment I am looking into setting up a separate eco fashion company working with organic and sustainable fabrics to be launched in 2012, and in September Beck is going on an adventure, travelling around Europe and will no doubt return brimming with new ideas for next year’s collections!
Do you think ethical fashion is the way forward?
Eco fashion is definitely the way forward. Its up to us to make the choices that will make the future brighter, cleaner and greener. We may as well start now, whether it be turning that unwanted pair of jeans into an satchel, giving to, or shopping in a charity shop, buying a Pretty Rubbish re-made beauty, buying ethical trade or organic clothing or even being as simple as buying something that’s classic, really well made and really going to last. The mass produced unethical throw-away culture of many mainstream fashion outlets is disgraceful, I’m so glad people are really starting to think about what they’re wearing, lets carry on.
Abby Wright, Alexander McQueen, All Saints, brighton, Cornwall, Danielle Shepherd, ethical, ethicalfashion, Falmouth, Falmouth University, fashion, Fritha Strickland, Harris Tweed, Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts, Hay-on-Wye, Helen Martin, Herefordshire, Jacobs, jewellery, Ludlow Food Festival, Mina Bach., Pretty Rubbish, Rebecca Goddard, Recycled Fashion, Shropshire, Sow's Ear, The Wear-House, Toria Geary, traid, vintage, Vintage Fashion, Vivienne Westwood, Welsh Mountains
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