Introducing, BFTA Member – Ninx Flanagan, Bewitched Couture
How did you start out as a furrier?
I started my career studying couture pattern cutting at London College of Fashion whilst simultaneously having an apprenticeship to the bridal couturier Rebecca Street. I always had a calling to work with fur as the variety, complexity, movement and sculptural nature of fur entranced me – but there was nowhere I knew of to learn, so I began by buying vintage furs at markets and ‘reverse engineering’ them to learn their construction. I would then remodel them to new contemporary pieces, selling them on to friends and clients. Eventually, I moved to working almost exclusively with fur, investing a huge amount in my first fur machine and gleaning what knowledge I could from anyone I met in the fur industry. As a first-generation furrier it has most definitely been an uphill battle somewhat ‘in the dark’ until I discovered the BFTA and I’m delighted to now be part of the ‘family’ of BFTA members. I’m passionate about helping make learning the skills of a furrier more accessible not only to young designers but ‘upskilling’ technical people who already work in a sewing environment. I have to admit I’m a little jealous of all the amazing courses now available to new young people entering the industry and I’d like to see more advanced ‘masterclass’ courses available for people such as myself in areas like ‘stranding’ etc. We never stop learning!
What do you love most about working with fur?
I’m hugely passionate about art, Circular Fashion, natural materials and British craftsmanship and working with fur ticks all these boxes! Sculptural artform has always been a part of who I am and I consider every garment I pattern cut or remodel to be a piece of ‘wearable art’ and fur embodies the perfect material to work with… The textures, colours, hair length, density, directionality, movement and mouldable shape offer infinite possibilities limited only by one’s imagination! I also love that fur can be reinvented over and over again, bringing the opportunity of return business from a client and then eventually the fur can be returned to the environment in an ecologically beneficial way… What’s not to love!
What do you see as the challenges?
Aside from the current threats facing the industry from animal rights groups and politics that we are all fully aware of, I’d like to concentrate on the challenges facing the ‘first generation furrier’. One of the biggest challenges is showcasing your imagination and what you are capable of in a commercial collection whilst also needing to dedicate most of your time to ‘bread and butter’ private client work that earns you your main living. As EmiLou articulates well we are a ‘one-man-band’ working not only as a furrier but also HR, Accounts, Sales, Marketing, PR, Strategist, Production and above all… Designer. I’d really like to explore how the industry can support us ‘first generation furrier’ businesses. It would be great to work together with established businesses who could mentor young entrepreneurs.
What does Sustainability mean to you?
Sustainable, circular fashion is at the heart of what we do at Bewitched Couture. Not only is it important to us to use British craftsmanship but also to use quality, sustainable materials, wherever possible, in all our creations. Our clients want garments that are made from ‘natural’ materials that breathe and don’t deplete the planet – fur, leather, wool and silk fit the bill perfectly and these are our primary materials. Each of these materials we select are from either certified farmed or wildlife managed sources and are also REACH compliant in the dressing process. Knowing that none of the bi-product is wasted is also confidence giving to our clients.
Sustainability, for Bewitched Couture, means responsible sourcing and supply chain provenance… if we don’t know where it’s come from – we won’t use it!
Anything to add?
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Anyone looking for internships and work experience west of London please do get in touch with a CV and any examples of previous textile/fashion work.