Originally Published on Don’t Panic
Raggedy Clothes, nestled deep in the heart of The Old Silk Mill Studio in Frome, sells tailor made quirky couture made out of recycled clothing and material. The owner, Hayley Trelize, started the brand as a reaction to the fashion industry’s lack of innovation and preference for increasing landfill. Hayley felt it had ‘helped to create an unsustainable, disposable culture in our society that does not necessarily allow for freedom of expression,’ and she wanted to counteract that with clothes that expressed individuality and promoted sustainability. Her creations endorse the idea of fashion as art, her flagship store being a veritable treasure trove of imagination and Victorian sensibilities, an era she adores for it’s ‘sensual, womanly elegance’ as well as (of course) it’s focus on the raggedy. In it she sells hand stitched peasant dresses dripping with layered ruffles, patchwork cardigans blended with tweed, elegant trilby’s which sprout repurposed feathers and many other items that demand to be stroked, touched and loved.
She first learnt how to construct clothes from her seamstress mother, which came in handy when, as a teenager, she quickly realised there was little on the market she felt inspired by. This lead to her designing her own clothes, bringing together her favourite garments and ‘finding new and exciting ways to connect them together.’ She continued to develop her unique style by experimenting with materials, and constructing items from second hand clothes, old curtains and just about anything else she could get her hands on, before selling her creations at local festivals and craft fairs in Aberystwyth. She soon built a reputation for herself, and after two appearances in Alternative Fashion Week with her Wearable Art Collection, and Twisted History, her clothes were being stocked in Aberystwyth, Cardiff, Pembrokeshire, Glastonbury Oxford, London and finally Frome, where her studio is.
The Raggedy approach to making clothes involves working on instinct, resisting patterns and looking for existing shapes before ‘cutting without fear of messing up,’ as Hayley believes mistakes often lead to more innovative design. She enjoys working with materials that have a rich history of construction, such as tweeds and woollens, as she loves the idea of their transition from a single outfit worn by an old man to ‘a unique ‘Coatagan’ worn by a fashionable woman.’ She is often asked to make custom made pieces for clients, and has worked on everything from alternative bridal-wear to ball gowns, keeping a constant dialogue going throughout in order to create outfits that are a ‘true collaboration between client and designer.’ But for Hayley, her work is about more than just about fashion; it is about the promotion of independent and local designers as well as the appreciation of ‘craftsmanship, quality design and ethically sourced goods.’ And she feels society is starting to catch up with her, beginning to focus on the ‘slow fashion’ movement, which doesn’t start and end with a rifling through a rack at your local high street store but has an eye on the future of the environment, as well as the promotion of individualism. Let’s hope it continues to grow.