Showing posts with label fashion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fashion. Show all posts

Wednesday 11 February 2015

All hail the House of Winser!

People watching:
Kim Winser, OBE and founder of Winser London

So what do Yasmin Le Bon, Emma Watson and David Beckham have in common? In one way or another, they have all modelled clothes for Britain's very own queen of retail, Kim Winser. Yasmin is currently the face of Kim's newest and eponymous label, Winser London, while Emma Watson was snapped last year in a Winser trench coat (yes Winser, not Burberry!) on her way back from the Oscars. Back in 2000, when Kim was boss of Pringle, the Scottish knitwear manufacturer, David Beckham burnished the brand by choosing to don a Pringle sweater for the launch of his first book.

Yasmin Le Bon in a Winser London Milano coat
Yasmin Le Bon in that coat!
Many of us love poring over what the stars choose to wear, but sometimes the more interesting story is the person behind those clothes. Kim Winser, who has earned a reputation for reviving ailing brands, such as Pringle, Aquascutum and Agent Provocateur, has set herself a fresh challenge: to turn Winser London, her 2013 internet start-up, into a global brand. 

Kim founded Winser after she spotted a gap in the market. "I was passionate about an area... that was not being fulfilled, the area of fashionable clothes with a great luxurious quality but at truly amazing prices," she told me in a recent interview.

Although the brand started out two years ago as an online business, the clothes are now available in John Lewis and two of Winser's own stores in Gerrards Cross and Marlow. After running more established businesses like Pringle and Aquascutum, Kim finds she is back to being "seriously hands on" as she sets about transforming her vision into tangible success. "My whole career has been a learning curve for launching Winser London." 

Thursday 14 February 2013

Growing pains

Hermaphrodite Mum
Three kids and a single mother

Middle Child told me at bathtime last night that he wanted to stay living with me until he was 40 years old (his equivalent of old age). This was in response to my lament that he was growing up too quickly. With tears in his eyes, he told me he didn't want to become a big boy. We are both afraid of his increasing independence and what it spells for our relationship.

This is the central contradiction of parenting: on the one hand we want our children to progress and meet all their milestones, but on the other we can't bear the idea of our babies growing up and living beyond our influence.

Don't grow up too fast, baby!
© Photographer: Rebecca Abell | Agency:
Last week I was dropping off my nine-year-old, the Quiet One, at school. Normally we say goodbye in the school hallway - public kisses are no longer permitted. I have to content myself with a wink and discreet shoulder squeeze. On this occasion, however, I popped into her classroom to remind her about some homework that needed handing in. She was horrified by my intrusion. "Mum, you are embarrassing me!"

Girls, particularly in the West, seem to grow up too quickly. I was listening to Libby Purves a few weeks ago on Radio 4's Midweek programme. One of her guests was reminiscing about attending school in India: he recalled how 17-year old girls were content to play hopscotch in the playground. That would never happen here. A slew of factors - pop culture, commercial pressures, the fashion industry and rafts of examinations - means that our children are too eager to ape the grown-ups. They cast off their innocence like a Boden party dress, in the race to keep up with their peers. Suddenly it's all about skinny jeans, Gangnam Style and rather inappropriate dance moves.

When my two eldest children were babies, I thought it would last forever. Now I see how quickly those years pass. I watch Non-Walking Toddler's progression with a crushing sense of nostalgia. And yet I am desperate for her to start walking! When she took a few tentative steps between the sofa and the coffee table the other day, I cheered her on like she was running 100 metres in the Olympic finals. We are hardwired to push our children onwards, even if our hearts protest.

Quiet One brought some friends home this week. Over sausages and chips they discussed which of the boys they liked most in the class. "Girls," I said, "don't grow up too quickly. You can always go forwards, but you can never go back to the past." They looked at me like I was talking nonsense. They were right. How can we expect them to resist the culture we impose upon them? Their budding minds are designed to absorb these formative influences. The challenge lies with us - we need to give them less screen-time, more adventures, more time outdoors and some immunity from everyday pressures. 

Parents will always have an eye to the past and an eye to the future. The trick is striking a healthy balance. When I was putting Middle Child to bed, he amended his earlier statement. "Actually Mummy, I think I will only live with you until I find a wife and build my first house." Yes, very wise, little man.

Hermaphrodite Mum is a fictional creation of Emma Clark Lam
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