Founded by Leah Chapman, Issue Twelve was born out of a desire to offer modern classics, outlined by thoughtful design and quality. “I’ve always found it interesting how clothes lift you and the power they have to make you feel great,” Leah tells us. “I started Issue Twelve because I wanted to put the ease back into getting dressed. I couldn’t find the pieces I wanted in high-quality natural materials, classic and often tailored shapes, and with a focus on sustainability – and all at a contemporary price point.”
Issue Twelve appeals to modern working women for its simplicity and versatility. If you love clothes, but don’t want to be distracted by them, they offer relaxed workwear and elevated casual wear. The brand aims to take you from work to dinner with a capsule wardrobe which feels classic and refined. “I think we tend to work backwards rather than forwards.” Leah explains. “Rather than being inspired by something specific and creating a piece from that, the questions we ask are: what do we want to wear? What does our customer want to wear?”
Issue Twelve takes pride in sharing the journey of its products, so the process from concept to creation is transparent. “With our wool Stanley trousers, the wool is sourced from a merino sheep farm in Australia, the yarn is woven in Italy using 100% renewable energy, then they are made in London, and finished with buttons made from tagua palm nuts. We find people tend to connect more to the idea of sustainability when it's told through a story,” Leah tells us. The brand also eschews trends in favour of pieces built to last – it typically spends more on materials than on development of new shapes. I think what makes us stand out is the quality and fabrication as well as the price point.
Leah is hoping to find an appointment space she can invite customers into, allowing people to touch and feel the quality of the clothes.
After studying menswear tailoring at LCF and working as a designer, Laura had been searching for the perfect wool suit she could wear both professionally and socially. Finding this impossible was the driving force she needed to start her namesake brand. Laura Pitharas is a contemporary luxury womenswear label, offering a versatile capsule wardrobe for modern lifestyles. Everything is designed in London and crafted in the UK.
“I design through my own experiences and needs as a modern woman,” Laura tells us. The brand focuses on tailored and oversized silhouettes which celebrate an understated elegance and is defined by clean lines and minimalism. “I often describe Laura Pitharas as menswear for womenswear. I am inspired by breaking the boundaries for womenswear and creating a new form of femininity through oversized silhouettes. I want to make suiting for women more accessible, and to move away from the stigma of ‘power dressing’ and to normalise women wearing suits.”
The aim is to be transparent, to respect the supply chain and to enjoy the process. Laura wants to change the industry’s reputation and to celebrate the craft of design. “I work directly with all our suppliers from our mill in Yorkshire, which weaves the wool for all our tailored pieces, to the pleater in London who creates a bespoke pattern for our kilt, all the way through to our manufacturers in north London,” Laura explains. “It was important to me for our customers to have visibility of every stage of our garment’s journey. All our clothing is sewn using organic thread rather than polyester. We work with only ethical, natural, biodegradable or organic fabrics. Our collections have small production lines and limited runs to avoid waste.”
This year, Laura plans to launch a wedding collection, which naturally focuses on suits. “We want to provide women with an alternative option to a wedding dress,” she reveals. The collection will also offer silk blouses that pair perfectly with the suits. Later in the year, the brand’s second collection will launch, focusing on summer suits and lighter-weight fabrics.
Starting out as a bespoke tailoring apprentice at the Berlin Opera Foundation, Hanna then moved onto pattern cutting at The London College of Fashion. “I always knew I wanted to start my own brand someday,” she says. After honing her skills with Gabriela Hearst in New York, the idea of having her own brand became more of a concrete plan. “Gabriela is such an inspiring person and I truly found a role model in her.” Shortly after, Hanna launched her eponymous brand in 2018.
Earning experience in both ready-to-wear and bespoke tailoring, Hanna’s vision for the brand was to marry those two worlds by bringing together the craftsmanship and quality of tailoring with more trend-led designs. Her minimalist pieces come with serious attention to detail, and are made from natural fabrics like cotton, linen, silk and wool. “I love to play with contrasting elements such as structure and fluidity or masculinity and femininity,” she explains. Expect timeless fashion that transcends the seasons.
“I like to follow the Bauhaus principles of good design where function and aesthetics work hand in hand,” Hanna says. That explains why many of the brand’s designs can be worn in different ways – to maximise styling options. Driven by the goal to create the best products possible, everything from the choice of material, to the garment’s construction is highly considered.
As well as opening their first store in November 2021 in London’s Burlington Arcade, the brand has also launched an accessories collection with Fortnum & Mason. “It’s great to have a home for our brand,” Hanna says of the store. “We’re thrilled to have our mini Maison, as I like to call it, where we can meet clients and provide them with a proper experience.”