Homegrown heroes

MADE IN YORKSHIRE: To launch our new style section, Stephanie Smith celebrates the creative talent on our doorstep.

Every fashion season, the fabulous and iconic Burberry trench coat stalks the international catwalks like a colossus of design, a classic that is reinvented constantly, blending beautifully with more transient trends, always the epitome of contemporary chic.

And we feel rightly proud that it is made in Burberry’s factory in Castleford, West Yorkshire, which sends beautifully created trenches out to the four corners of the world, all produced by highly-skilled Yorkshire craftsmen and women.

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Burberry is not the only story of Yorkshire clothing excellence, far from it. Across the county, there are companies quietly creating cloth that goes to make high-end designer clothes for the catwalks of Paris, Milan, London and New York. Much of the production is kept quiet, but headlines were made, for example, when Taylor & Lodge of Huddersfield produced the fabric used by Tom Ford to create a suit worn by Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace.

It’s still more heartening to note the wealth of new and young creative talent in our county, much of it emanating from our excellent colleges and universities, which means that we have a growing number of fashion designers and makers establishing business and creating inspired clothes and accessories both for their local client base and, thanks to the internet, to customers almost everywhere in the world.

It’s high time we recognised and celebrated Yorkshire’s creative fashion talent, both established and new. Here we focus on five style-makers to be proud of.

SUZANNE GILL MILLINERY, AMPLEFORTH, NORTH YORKSHIRE: A graduate of Leeds College of Art, Suzanne likes working with traditional and unconventional materials to create headwear that is quirky and innovative, often making use of recycled materials. She also revives vintage designs and draws her inspiration from the backdrop against which she works – the timeless beauty of the North York Moors, with its iconic abbeys and historic houses. Her portfolio offers hats and fascinators perfect for glamorous weddings, family celebrations, outdoor pursuits or a touch of the theatricals. Suzanne appreciates that most women have little time or few occasions to feel glamorous. The ethos behind Suzanne Gill Millinery is that every woman deserves to feel special. Hats from £85.

PRODIGA, LEEDS: Jennifer Levenston, 20, started Prodiga a year ago. Her own design fabrics are produced in India and the clothes are made in her Leeds workshop. She produces womenswear collections and one-off pieces. A former pupil of Leeds Girls High School and Wakefield Girls High School, she studied at Leeds College of Art and at the Instituto Marangoni in Milan. “I first started to design as I was constantly on the prowl for the perfect blouse, that must-have item that can be worn with anything. Chanel is a huge inspiration as I think it’s amazing that a bag designed in the 1930s, such as the Chanel 2.55 classic, is still one of the best sold designer accessories.” Prodiga designs available at www.prodiga.co.uk and at Story boutique in London.

BO CARTER, LEEDS: Born in Poland, Bo Carter is a self-taught designer who has travelled the world and finally settled in Leeds. Her clothes are hand-made from her home just outside Wakefield. She mixes contemporary and vintage influences and loves to experiment with fabrics to add a special edge to the Victorian style. Her designs are available at www.Fashionpony.co.uk, a Yorkshire based online fashion boutique offering a platform for new and independent Yorkshire designers.

GET AHEAD HATS, NORTH YORKSHIRE: A farmers’ wives co-operative started on a York farm by Beryl Otley 25 years ago, designing and making its own in-house styles for a clientele that includes Kate Middleton and her family. Kate wore a Get Ahead hat to a wedding in Gloucestershire last year and the GA hat-makers are busy right now making hats for the upcoming Royal Wedding guests.“I can’t say who’s wearing what but the guests we have been helping have all gone for flamboyant and dramatic styles with large brims,” says Samantha Abbey, who has taken over the York showroom from Beryl. Hats to buy from £200 or to hire from £45.

BURBERRY, CASTLEFORD: Burberry began its life in 1856, and founder Thomas Burberry invented gabardine for military use in 1880. Burberry still makes its classic trench coats at its Castleford factory. Its iconic check scarves are also woven in Keighley. Chief creative officer Christopher Bailey, who joined the company in 2001, is a Yorkshire lad, from Halifax, and a proud promoter of his home county’s talent and expertise. After Sowerby Bridge High School, he went to Dewsbury and Batley College of Art at 16, then to Harrow College of Art, although his working career began at Beverly Summers’s wedding boutique in Harrogate.