Clare Miller created the Copper and White collection for hard-working women. She tells Serena Taylor how she found her muse.
Copper and White is a collection inspired by the modern woman who desires something new and contemporary, something stylish and luxurious – relaxed glamour with a relaxed price tag. However, that modern woman is not any woman – she’s called Lynnie.
“Lynnie is my perfect customer,” says Copper and White owner Clare Morris. “When I started shopping for exclusive pieces for my collection, I used to shop for myself. Now I do it for Lynnie.”
Her imaginary customer is aged 40 to 55, and looks after herself. “She has a real dog, a labrador, is a busy mum with a career and is modern in her attitude. She likes to wear smart casual, have lunch with the girls and a night out in a stylish wine bar.
“She’s a busy lady, so she has a base outfit, she can add a necklace or change her top, add a layer or dress it up as she goes through her day.” Lynnie is the muse that Clare creates outfits for.
Clare, 52, of Pocklington, is a busy wife and mum herself, to Cameron, 20, and Caitlin, 19, who is studying fashion at university. After a degree in languages and a career as a teacher, she started her fashion business in 2015 and called it Little Ditsy. “I’d always been interested in clothes from childhood. My dad was a brilliant maker – he had a knitting machine – and as the youngest of four girls, I was always interested in clothes and sewed my own.
“Even throughout my teaching years I had followed fashion and four years ago I started Little Ditsy, very cautiously.”
She dipped her toe in the water with a small collection at the Moda trade fashion exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham. “This was my market research before I got involved in York Fashion Week and got my own agent.”
She was used to working long hours and threw her time into Little Ditsy and her quest to offer something new and contemporary, that wasn’t readily available on the High Street, “I set about creating a collection that was stylish and luxurious without the expensive price tag.”
After two successful years, she had built up a strong client base, however, the name just wasn’t right. “Little Ditsy does not define me nor the beautiful clothes I sell. Neither does it describe my customers who are modern women looking for an effortlessly stylish look. I met Nicky from NIMA at a Fashion City York event who supported me in rebranding, and Copper & White was born.”
She loves the beauty of copper and the purity of white with its clean lines and finishes married with the purity of natural fibres. However, her collection is not confined to these colours. Her palette follows the trends – autumn, she says, will be cobalt blue and magenta, with a hint of mustard continuing. Faux furs in bright and bold colours are on their way. She also offers classic and neutral tones for enduring wardrobes.
Her exclusive Spanish collection from Compañía Fantástica has pieces from under £20. “It’s interesting and affordable,” Clare says, “I love to stock lines that no one else in Yorkshire has. However, some lines are available elsewhere but no one else has put them together in a collection.”
Clare also has an environmental conscience and aims to supply fashion that is enduring. “You really don’t need to throw out your clothes twice a year. If you take three skirts and t-shirts you can mix and match and experiment. My collections have quality seam work and customers want quality and natural fibres and style that will last.
“My customers build up their capsule wardrobe that will work with what they already have and the styles that suit their body shape and colouring.”
She stocks hundreds of different pieces on her online store, but only six of each and when they are gone, they are gone. “I aim to keep my collection exclusive and affordable and with every year it gets more polished, beautiful clothes in sumptuous fabrics with simple details which can be slipped on for an easy, effortless style, that let the clothes do the work for you.”
Clare has some time at the start of the season to advise customers with styling and how colour can be a powerful tool for boosting mood. Most of her customers use her online store, which features collections from designers from several countries including Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
She has a stall at Shambles market in York from Tuesdays to Fridays, where she meets many of her regular customers. “I stock some of my collection and extra accessories that people like to buy on spec on the market,” she says. “It’s great because you never know who will be passing.”
Clare also attends 12 major shows with huge footfall every year. These include Royal Ascot and Ripley Castle. York Fashion Week is a regular outing for Copper and White too. Trade shows are another busy event where Clare sources for her collection for the season ahead.
“It’s a very busy life working in fashion,” Clare says. “But I was a teacher before so am used to hard graft. I love helping Lynnie and other women to look good throughout the day during their busy lives.”
Lifestyle shoot – Photography: Andrea Denniss of Pink Lily Photography; Models: Carolyn Amos, Annie Stirk AND Elisa Winstanley; Make up: Enya O’Brien from Holy Beauty
Catwalk shoot – Photography: Olivia Brabbs for York Fashion Week 2019; models: Deborah Hirzel and Charlie Cowap