|Ayten Mustafa, Creative Director of Ayten Gasson|
Please talk us through your latest collection?
Our latest Spring Summer collection has embraced all that is British, and has utilised traditional English manufacturing skills and combined it with modern designs. Signature styles, such as our silk bed jackets, teddies and baby dolls and been introduced in a black silk combined with English lace as part of our Future Vintage Classic Collection. Each item from the collection is lovingly and proudly made in Britain, with the hope that it will become a treasured piece in every woman's lingerie drawer. Our fashion ranges, such as the Lily camisole set and the Antique Tea Rose Collection feature lace trims designed and made in the UK by Cluny Lace, one of the last lace manufacturers based in Nottingham. The company has recently been famed for producing the lace for Kate Middleton’s wedding dress when she married Prince William in 2011. We have also extended our ethical lingerie collections to feature organic silk teddies trimmed with vintage Nottingham lace and hand tied English satin ribbons. All our items, from eyemasks to nightys, have all been made in the UK.
What best defines the Ayten Gasson brand?
Hopefully we are known as a luxury silk lingerie label, with a firm commitment to producing in the UK and an eye to ethical and sustainable sources.
|Silk bra from the current collection|
My designs are inspired by the history of the laces and trims I am able to source in the UK – whether it is a vintage lace trim found in the back room of one of my lace suppliers, or a new UK-made lace from one of the last lace manufacturers in England. I feel very proud of my collections, especially when I can introduce the history of Nottingham lace trade and British manufacturing to a new audience. Other design influences come from quintessential British themes, such as English flowers, where I focused on the shape of the leaves and petals and colour ideas drawn from a visit to Kew Gardens
What does ethical fashion mean to you?
Ethical fashion is very important to me and I feel it is something that all designers should be thinking about. The fashion industry cannot keep producing ‘throw away fashion’ with no moral responsibility for its actions. Larger companies who do not support the UK manufacturing industry nor use sustainable fabrics seem to be growing while smaller independent boutiques and retailers are closing down. If every designer, company and retailer tried to introducing a least one range which supported the UK fashion industry and/or a sustainable fashion range, the impact on the industry would be fantastic.
What made you want to create a label that supported UK business and skills?
Growing up I was surrounded by a family full of designers so I have always been influenced by them. I would even design and make outfits for my dolls from scraps of silk that my mum had saved for me. I went on to study at the London College of Fashion and then graduated from Central Saint Martin’s with a BA (Hons) in Fashion Print in 2002. Upon graduating I thought it would be fairly easy getting a job in the fashion industry but found a lot of companies had moved from the UK to Europe. I didn’t want to move away from England so decided to set up my own company with the aim to try to source as much as possible from UK companies and to keep all my manufacturing here. While studying I worked part time in a high street lingerie chain where I was continually disappointed to see nice designs coming into the store ruined by the cheap polyester laces and synthetic fabrics used to make the garments. It seemed to me that the whole design process had been wasted in mass producing a cheap product which wouldn’t last or be loved. This motivated me to forces on lingerie, producing pieces that would be treasured, using traditional manufacturing techniques and silk fabrics.
What is the best tip anyone's given you to help build a business with a positive purpose?
My mother has worked in the UK fashion industry for many years and has seen firsthand the descent of the manufacturing trade. She has always taught me to focus more on the impact of my business and not to just focus on money. I would definitely have higher profit margins if I produced all my designs in other areas of the world, and used polyester trims and fabrics. But I feel very proud to be supporting other UK businesses and highlighting the amazing skill of lace production which is still available in the UK.
See more of the latest collection here...