Sustainability & Giving New Life to Vintage Fur

I am Pip Chawner, the founder of Philippa London. My company was established in 2015 on the premise of returning new life to vintage. We used and continue to use reconditioned vintage fur, returning beautiful heirlooms into new garments and accessories. I was very clear from the outset that I wanted to develop a company that used the very best of traditional British craftsmanship to turn classic style into modern individual products that my clients would cherish and hopefully pass on to future generations.

As a child my mother used take my brother and I twice a year to a children’s boutique which specialised in stunning French clothes. Still today, I remember a prized pair of crisp, pale-blue jumbo-cord dungarees with a stunning brass plaque on the front panel, how I loved those cords! Funnily, my mother was rather partial to my brother and I wearing matching coordinated outfits, particularly when we traveling, so there was no mistake that my brother and I were related.

Looking back on my childhood, I am certain this set me up in the habit of buying 1 or 2 best quality prized pieces per year and to cherish and take care of them.  Throughout my life this is a practice that has served me well, buying and treasuring my clothes and hopefully keeping them for life.

I know I see my clothes as friends who travel with me on the journey of my life. I have my prized holiday wardrobe full with Summer dresses and essential finds that come away with me on every hot holiday. I particularly love a 1970’s dress that has been cared for and loved by my mother and now handed down to me.

I have of course been periodically seduced by the flood of fast, cheap fashion, but I do still tend to think of this as accessorising my existing wardrobe rather than fundamentally changing it.  Zara, for example, as fashion retailer has changed my habits, but I do not get the same thrill buying something “immediately gratifying” as I do when I find a classic that I know will be with me forever.

With my love of clothing I have always suspected that using and discarding clothing must be a bad thing.  Now we read about 300,000 tonnes of clothing being discarded in the UK each year, and that the fashion industry is responsible for as much as 5% of the UKs total annual carbon and water footprint and I know that my industry has to change.  I feel with global warming and the awareness of sustainability of fashion it is absolutely imperative that we start reverting back to old ways and start investing in core pieces that will last us a lifetime rather than a one season. One thing for certain is even with the most beautiful and investment pieces in our wardrobe they are meant to worn so I do mix prized pieces with a casual pair of jeans and as a dear friend once said don’t keep your most expensive pieces for special occasions as every day a special day!