Explore the following contribution to 'Stories within Our Isles' by Ella Griffee, who shares her love of designing and making clothes that stand the test of time. Inspired by her growing up in the Worcestershire countryside, Ella now designs and sews from her studio in Falmouth and works as a freelance writer and social media consultant.
Working from my studio in Falmouth, Cornwall, I design and make clothes to stand the test of time, that become all the more beautiful when they become worn and weathered. Having grown up in the Worcestershire countryside before moving to the Southwest, the rural environment is the one I feel most at home in. My business is inspired by a love for clothing that becomes shared, worn by all the family for dog walks and passed down over the years.
I have a small collection of styles, which I hone and tweak over time, only adding a new style when it feels like a justifiable development. Every few months I release the collection in a new fabric. It could be organic cotton corduroy, cobalt blue linen, or deadstock material which would be destined for landfill otherwise. Each garment is hand-made to order, allowing for alterations to be made to suit the individual. My own love of oversized shirts and the comfort they provide, having ‘acquired’ my dad’s faded rugby shirts over time, is where my concept was born. I design with this familiarity and comfort in mind, a hug from home for whoever wears them. The unfussiness of the countryside is reflected in my designs, which are easy to wear and with a silhouette that can be worn again and again. Their relaxed fit helps you move easily in the environment.
My first style was the Vinney Shirt, named after my childhood home which sits on a hill overlooking the Malverns. The countryside-inspired design draws on everything I love about those rugby shirts I borrowed, from dropped sleeves and curved hems to domed buttons and cuffs that are ideal for rolling. With a world full to the brim, it can be conflicting to create something new for people to buy. So, I try to have a sustainable approach, using natural materials, in-house production, and seeking out the other innovators around me. My buttons are 3D printed from marine nylon, sourced from ghost fishing nets pulled up from the sea off Penzance, and printed in small amounts just for these garments.
The fast pace of production and consumerism in city life feels relentless to me. I’m finding that while there’s a growing understanding of the need for consumerism to slow down, there is a real love being nurtured for the slower way of life here in Cornwall. People seem to want timeless objects that they are drawn to in a considered way, rather than impulsive High Street purchases - garments that we cherish and repair when necessary. It’s a mindset that comes with an appreciation of the landscape around us, and the makers who are inspired by it.
I hope to act as an alternative to fast fashion, offering positive impact clothing with a small and transparent cycle. I want the wearer to be confident their garments have been handmade by me, with love and attention to detail, and that they’ve chosen a style that will accompany their changing bodies throughout their lives.
Ella Griffee grew up in Worcestershire before moving to Falmouth, Cornwall to study Fashion Design at Falmouth University. After graduating in 2018, Ella spent time in London and Cornwall working in the industry before launching Ella Griffee Studio in 2020, a small made-to-order clothing business. Ella designs and sews from her studio in Falmouth and works as a freelance writer and social media consultant.
Words & Photographs by Ella Griffee