Stories

January Joy

By Justine Tabak

January Joy

Bringing colour to January days. 

Heading into the final phase of our Winter Sale, I took advantage of the rooftop at our East London studio to soak up the winter sunshine, wearing mood boosting colours to beat the January blues. 

Toasty bright knits, refresher checks, layering linens and uplifting prints...you have one more week to take advantage of an extra 10% off with your Subscriber code SECRETEXTRA10 on sale or non-sale items. We've sold out of quite a few sizes already and I've updated the sale section for ease of viewing. Ends 21st January. 

Enjoy the weekend! 

Justine x

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Last Post

By Justine Tabak

Last Post

First off, I do hope all of you are safe and sound; with the recent news it's difficult to stay positive in these challenging times. 

We are still busy in the studio, safely distancing and quietly munching our way through mince pies and chocolates as I write this...I thank all our makers and contacts as they finish up loose ends before the Christmas break. 

So with a final flourish, we are rounding up with our 'Festival of Red'! For those new to this letter, we created special editions of our best selling styles in the colour red to celebrate the first red dress that launched the brand. I can't express more how grateful I am to the messages of support and we have been making right up until yesterday to service demand. A big thank you all round!

*Last Post* We do have a few sizes left in stock, so please do take a look. All final orders across the site, including pre-orders, will be posted by end of day Monday for delivery ahead of the big day. 

And just in the nick of time, Santa has dropped some glorious fair isle sweaters in with us should you have some final gifting to do or looking ahead to winter beyond... 

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas! 

Justine x

This winter we teamed up with a beautiful Scottish knitter as we fell in love with the craftsmanship of their 'vintage' fairisles. The pieces were chosen to blend beautifully with the collection. With so many challenges this autumn, unfortunately there were huge delays in the making, but we are thrilled to receive these wonderful heirloom pieces. In limited numbers, they are ready to buy now. 

 

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Merry, British & Bright!

By Justine Tabak

Merry, British & Bright!

With just 10 days before Christmas, we are shining a merry light on some locally-made brands, spreading love and joy to other makers, crafters, and businesses that all hail from these Fair Isles. More than ever, it's time to celebrate the small, the friendly and the brilliance that is made in Britain. 

With comfort and joy,

Justine x

*Paper Sam* Super stylist Sam Duffy knows how to turn the mundane into magic. Alongside prop making and styling for niche British brands, she now turns vintage finds, waste paper and charming ephemera into decorative gifts and paperware. https://papersam.co.uk

*Parasol Rose* I'm often asked how to layer up my dresses for the winter, and here we are! Having invested in some beautifully British-made silk slips from this like-minded 'slow fashion' brand, I can honestly say they are worth their weight in gold; adding warmth in the winter, and 'out' on their own in the summer, this is versatile luxury all year round. https://parasolrose.co.uk

*The English Stamp Company*  Now this may seem a little unusual, but having given rubber stamps on many occasions, I can tell you they are the perfect present! I once stole doodles scribbled by a friend and secretly had them made into perfectly formed rubber stamps, very quirky and personal. With a library of charming ready made designs, and a fast turn around bespoke service from their Dorset HQ, this could be the present for the one who has everything! https://englishstamp.com

*Thornback and Peel* is a celebration of the quirkiness of British humour and design. From their London studio, Juliet and Delia create designs that play on artistic traditions, mixing modernist geometrics with 19th century wood engravings. Their screen printed kitchenwares are sure to raise a smile at any festive table. https://thornbackandpeel.co.uk

*Helen Stephens* Author, illustrator, picture book maker of 'The How to Hide a Lion' series delights in every page. This classic Christmas tale now comes with matching wall prints at Helen's online shop. Now all I need is grandchildren! https://helenstephens.com

*Celia Worster* makes delicious oils and creams. When asked, "What do I use on my face?", my answer is always Celia's 'lovely rose and frankincense face and neck cream'. What I love about Celia, trained aromatherapist and masseur, is that there are no claims to anti-aging or miracle effects, but on using these rich and luxurious creams I can honestly say I feel years younger! Contact Celia https://celiaworster.com

*Wilder Botanics*  use only organic and wildcrafted herbs and their east London shop is bursting with fresh aromas. Founders Rachel and Charlie create herbal formulas for teas, infusions, oils and tinctures with a wealth of experience and a love of the wild. Hand-made with natural goodness, these carefully concocted formulas nourish inside and out. https://wilderbotanics.com

*Bare Bones Chocolate* hails from Glasgow. Cameron and Lara batch make (just like us!) and produce delectable bean to bar chocolate wrapped up in the most stylish (red) wrappers around! We love their Christmas Special: a 70% Columbian bean dark chocolate with notes of mulled wine and cranberry. Vegan-friendly, organic, Scottish passion in a chocolate bar! https://bareboneschocolate.co.uk

*Wallace Sewell* have been the original sustainable homeware brand before anyone used the word sustainable! Designed in the South, woven in the North, their designs are keepers for life, created with a love for colour and craft. Beautiful blankets, glorious throws, a kaleidoscope of colourful cushions with every tiny scrap of cloth repurposed into ribbons and gifts. Expect a rainbow in a box! https://wallacesewell.com

*FelinFach* Textiles is a small Welsh company based at a 200-year-old former flour mill in the mountains of Pembrokeshire. I fell in love with these purses and spectacle cases for their vintage charm, and love that this independent company is keeping the tradition of Welsh weaving alive. If you're a knitter do check out their beautiful choice of British yarns in natural dyes. Natural, traditional, handmade. https://felinfach.com

*And last but not least!*...please note that we are still sending out parcels for pre- Christmas posting. We still have a few of our Fair Isle jumpers and cardigans in selected sizes. All made in Scotland, in fresh bright hues, these jumpers will bring some sunshine into winter.

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Meet The Maker : Tattie Rose

By Justine Tabak

Meet The Maker : Tattie Rose

In this series, Justine meets with other makers who share her values, finding common ground and fresh inspiration in equal measure. Tattie Isles is a Dorset-based florist and longstanding JT customer, who made a magical display for our 'Red Celebration' shoot...

“I’m not that into flowers,” says Tattie Isles, which seems a peculiar statement from a florist, “I avoid pom poms, tulips, peonies – and I don’t like ruffles.” What she is passionate about, she tells me, is foliage: seasonal greenery of various colours, lengths, heights and shapes, which forms the basis of her incredible displays. 

The display she made for my latest shoot is no exception, an arch of glorious autumnal plants from which you might expect enchanted creatures to emerge – fairies, imps, pixies. I had asked her to make me a wild backdrop, using seasonal plant life to capture the magic of winter. She set to work foraging for the season’s best offerings, using the rusty, golden and fading greens of November bracken – with its leaves that vary from decadent fans to winding tendrils – as a canvas on which to build a subtly festive scene. Rosehips, hellebores, crab apples and pomegranates all made an appearance, and the result was dreamily ethereal.

Tattie, who makes large-scale botanical installations for events, is a longstanding JT customer. She bought one of my early tartan dresses and told me she “lived in it like someone else might wear jeans”. She tells me that her life is very physical, with three kids, several dogs, and thirty chickens, and that her job requires her to be “mostly up a ladder – I’m usually outside, year-round – so I need clothes that are both appropriate for all the elements and which make me feel good.” When she bought another dress from me this year, I looked her up, and a beautiful collaboration happened.

When I think about her not really being into flowers, I realise that I have my own equivalent. I’m not that into fashion! My emphasis is on timelessness and things that last, not clothes that will not only look the part (in style and in quality) for a short period of time. 

My dresses nod to the seasons only in terms of warmth – the thickness of fabrics, the length of sleeves, and some colours distinguish autumn/winter from spring/summer. Otherwise I think seasonal fashion is unsustainable, but the opposite is of true of Tattie’s floristry, in which the seasons are all-important. She is, in her words, “all about the moment”, drawing on what nature makes available to her in the place she’s working – be that Sweden in November or Tuscany in June.

Tattie describes her designs as “abundant, earthy yet romantic”, which I think could be a description of my dresses – pretty and practical. She talks about her love of Scotland and its unruly landscapes and about the “strong Celtic spirit” that she feels runs through her. At every family occasion, she says, her father and brother play the bagpipes, and she needs no excuse to wear tartan. The first time we speak on the phone, she tells me she’s wearing triple tartan – skirt, jacket and scarf. My kind of girl! 

Our tartan is made especially for us by a small mill in Ireland; our classic Blackwatch tartan changes slightly in size every year, but has become a JT signature. Tattie wore it in the form of our Hackney dress while assembling her display. She also tried the easy-tiered Galway dress in our new “Isabel” tartan – navy-based with red and ecru. I’m glad we got some pictures of her at work, not least because – unlike mine – her creations are so fleeting. “You end up with a masterpiece which lasts a day,” she says, “and then it’s gone. You see it go from nothing to something amazing in a short space of time. It’s creatively rewarding in that way.”

Thank you Tattie Rose Isles @tattieroseflowers on instagram, or visit www.tattieroseflowers.co.uk 

 

 

 

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Our Red Celebration!

By Justine Tabak

Our Red Celebration!

It's our birthday! We are 5, and to celebrate we invited 5 customers to a very special photo shoot. Modelling 5 'special edition' red dresses, we saluted the 'LRD' that launched the brand. What a wonderful 5 years it's been; from kitchen top studio, designing and packing up everything from home, stitching and fitting, finding local makers, pop ups, to our new found studio and small team that we are now! Most importantly we have enjoyed creating the wonderful community that we have today. 

My first collection was just a few pieces, all created in black and cream with just one corduroy tiered dress in red, which is now known as the Mill Town Dress. The press picked up on the style and my tiny run of ten dresses sold out overnight... little did I know that this dress was the first of many red dresses in the making! So it seemed apt to mark our birthday by rekindling this dress, and with it creating a collection of your favourite dresses all in the colour red! 

Here our models are real customers, how I wish I could have invited YOU ALL! Thank you for your incredible support, this community is quite amazing and I'm constantly in awe of the women that we dress. Special thanks to Tattie of Tattie Rose Flowers who created this incredible backdrop for our party... we'll be hosting a special newsletter about Tattie very soon too. 

So without further ado, let me introduce you to our models for the season! 

Justine xx

Tattie, wearing the Saltaire dress in crimson corduroy. We couldn't believe our eyes when she created a magical backdrop for our red dresses by transforming a simple studio into a winter wonderland. Tattie makes and designs botanical sets for events and her work is truly art in nature, running her eponymous company with her husband Fred.

"I love JT dresses because my life is very practical and I spend a lot of it climbing in and out of vans and up ladders but I also would always choose to wear a dress over trousers. When I wear a JT dress I can carry on climbing ladders and exploring whilst also feeling free and feminine. They are so well made and the fabric is amazing quality so they last and last and are completely timeless."

Nazish, wearing our London Fields dress in berry red corduroy. Nazish is a writer who weaves her words with faith and spirituality alongside her passion for exploring and good food, cake and coffee! She discovered us over a red gingham dress a few summers ago and has been one of our most stylish customers ever since. Full of energy and with her infectious smile, she entranced us with how natural she was in front of the camera!

"I never thought I’d wear a floral dress until I discovered Justine’s dresses! They’re highly wearable and feminine without being overly girlie, and allow me to express that side of my style well. Also, pockets! I also love the sustainable, support-local ethos of the brand."

Juliet, wearing our new velvet Pavilion dress in rich ruby red. We love spying Juliet wearing our clothes on her instagram. Whilst her job as editor of a medical journal may be completely different to ours, she certainly knows how to style a JT dress! In her time out, she's happiest reading a book, running, yoga and walking the dog. She also loves cooking with her own vegetables grown on her allotment. 

"I love JT dresses as they are so wearable and easy to style for different occasions. The fabrics are really gorgeous and the dresses are of such a high quality and made to last. I love that I will be able to wear these for many years, and that they are made sustainably."

Jade wearing the new cranberry crop jumper and vermilion silk Bobbie skirt. Jade was our very first model, wearing the original red dress in our Spitalfields launch and has been a model, customer and wonderful friend since. She is co- founder of LOANHOOD, a new clothing rental platform, and PhD student in Sustainable Fashion. Remarkably she has time to follow her hobbies; yoga, vintage hunting and walking little Ludo, her Brussels Griffon!

"I love the JT dresses because they are timeless, inclusive and I feel part of something that is positive for the fashion industry. I feel like fashion should bring people together and JT dresses have the power to do that."

Justine And finally, here I am wearing the very dress that launched the brand. Five years ago, I designed a red corduroy three tiered dress, a style that was quite outside the fashion zeitgeist at the time. 

Inspired by vintage dress from my mum and photos of Edwardian 'mill girls', I chose the simple shape because it epitomised everything I hoped the brand would be: pretty and practical dress, style conscious and comfortable. Made in luscious corduroy, I chose red as a beacon of hope for the brand and it has served me well. And not forgetting adding pockets... sounds surprising but at that time no dresses seemed to have pockets!

This dress has appeared in so many guises since it's launch and I'm thrilled to bring back 'the scarlet' for our celebration of red. 

So, why do I like 'Justine Tabak'?! 

I started this brand having worked for many years in the industry with a desire to connect back to community, to make consciously and locally so that I had a true relationship with everyone I worked with. I was disillusioned with fast fashion practices and passionate about slowing down the cycle of fleeting fashion trends. We make dresses that stand the test of time, can be worn dressed up or down, in practical shapes and natural fabrics kinder to the environment. I am proud to say we have worked with a loyal team of British makers who have grown with us over time. 

At our core, we love making dresses for our incredible community of women; I could not have done it without you! It's been the hardest work of my life but the kindness and enthusiasm of our followers has truly kept me and our small team going! 

Thank you everyone,

Justine xxx

 

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Justine Tabak X Haines Collection Curtain Coat Collaboration

By Justine Tabak

Justine Tabak X Haines Collection Curtain Coat Collaboration

In todays newsletter we're showcasing something quite different, our recent collaboration with the wonderful Haines Collection. 

Jules Haines, founder of her eponymous company and with over a decade working in interiors, saw first-hand the high volume of waste the industry creates. Passionate about the environment, she has created a pioneering platform for the resale of home furnishings that otherwise would be headed for landfill.

So when Jules offered me the chance of repurposing a donated vintage curtain, I jumped at the opportunity to create a dress and coat. With the Sound of Music ringing through my ears, enjoy the story of our curtain collaboration! 

Justine and Jules xx

The Haines Collection provides a solution to the environmental challenges facing the interiors industry today. They're a pioneering platform for the resale of unwanted textiles, wallpaper, lights and accessories that would most likely be headed for landfill. With a shared passion for less waste, it was a brilliant creative project to work on, upcycling old curtains into a new life! 

The Curtain. When the huge vintage curtains were unfolded we were struck at the beauty of this incredible painterly design, unmistakably created by world famous 'Collier Campbell', so we set to task to discover more about the design. With the wonder of Instagram we found that Sarah Campbell still designs from her South London studio, and she was delighted to let us interview her about the history of 'Paysanne', the design used for the curtain. 


Q. Jules and I fell in love with your print, can you tell us when it was designed and the inspiration behind the design? 

"The pattern was designed in 1991, developed from another pattern we had 'Gypsy Dance'. Interestingly, that design was a direct response to the fall of the Berlin Wall when I imagined that we would start to see lots of Eastern European folk ceramics. It was also designed in the terrible time of AIDS which took away so many designers, so we wanted to make it colourful, cheerful and optimistic to celebrate the creative community."

Q. What do you think of the idea of taking home furnishings across into the fashion world? 


"It's really very satisfying to see an old design being given new life – being re-imagined - I love to think of the patterns earning their living!"


Q. Can you tell us more about the craft of textile print designing in a time before digital printing?


"I have spent my working life, since the '60s, painting patterns for textiles; indeed when Susan and I started our careers there was no alternative. Our designs, painted in repeat in gouache on paper were then skilfully engraved by hand, colour by colour, and then transposed to rollers or screens. The number of screens, size of design, mesh and engraving decisions, the order in which the colours were printed down were all integral parts of the process; the skill of the engravers, printers and colourists was paramount. Designing for Liberty of London Prints, which we did until 1976 or so, was a great way to learn about all this; neither of us studied textiles at a college. Over the years the processes in conventional printing have changed, but beautiful printing still relies on skilful work. I retain the idea that painting a design at its proposed scale, whether a 4” repeat for Liberty or a huge bedlinen at 220cm from top to toe, makes for a better understanding of the rhythm and balance of the pattern. Making a pattern on a small square computer screen with very little reference to scale and purpose must make that difficult. And then there's the colour....


I still make all my designs, repeats and colourways by hand – primarily I love paint and painting; I believe in and rely on its subtleties and joy, and the very real dialogue between the hand, the eye and the surface."

The Design. I set about to create a dress and coat with the curtain and pattern in mind. For a big scale print, it seemed apt to design a dress with drama whilst still wearable. I took one of our prairie dress shapes (the Riding House dress), lowered the square neckline a little and added a frill to the hem. In true JT spirit pockets were added, and the dress crosses the boundaries between characterful, vintage inspired made modern. 

Jules had requested a coat and I loved designing the shape with the print in mind. We matched the pockets on either side and carefully placed the pattern pieces to reflect the repeat of the design. Jules had some beautiful olive suede buttons treasured from her grandmother which toned beautifully with the fabric. 

Q. Jules, what do you like about the design? 

"What really draws me in with this design is the use of colours. It's actually quite a varied colour palette but I love the way each painterly sweep works perfectly with the next. Such skills to be able to pull this together so cohesively without it feeling over the top, it's amazing. Wearing this you feel like a walking piece of art, so unique, I love it."

Once completed, the dress was spotted and immediately showcased at Isabel Spearman's recent Daily Dress Edit Pop Up. Isabel, a champion for small independent designers and consciously minded businesses, invited us both to talk about the project.

The dress is now available to rent via My Wardrobe HQ, a rental platform for designer dresses and we think a very fitting place to give even more longevity to this special piece!

The Sound of Music lives on!

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London Fields

By Justine Tabak

London Fields

Can you believe it's December just around the corner! 

Ahead of the Christmas rush, I wanted to glow a light on one of our best selling styles that we've just replenished, the London Fields Dress. 

This shape has been a favourite for many seasons and one that can be dressed up or down. Pretty, romantic, with a modern twist, we have added trusty pockets to make this the prettiest and most practical dress designed from our studio in London Fields!

The first made in a beautiful dusky Liberty floral, I wear mine at this time of year with a chunky cardigan thrown over; the second made in navy cord, this is the dress that I wear for day into evening.

Whilst these will be the last batches of the year, rest assured you can wear this dress for many months to come, winter into spring and beyond. 

Enjoy! 

Justine x

Mina Holland @minaholland who loves the London Fields Dress. 

 

 

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Welcome Winter

By Justine Tabak

Welcome Winter

Just in(e)! Apologies for the pun, but we're excited to show you first our freshest winter styles, many of which are ready and waiting online. We've topped up some of our 'most wanted' and introduced some new limited editions: the softest chunky cord for a coat and dress, a luxe velvet party dress, the prettiest of posy prints and some colourful cosy knits.

Whilst many styles are available now, some are available via pre-order. To be honest it has been a tough year for supply chains, and although we are lucky to be making locally, there have been some shortages of haberdashery! Thankfully we are pleased that almost all our styles will be dropping into us within the next two weeks so please do order now to avoid disappointment.

Bring on a toasty winter, with crackling cords, blanket weave tartans, glowing colours and comfort all around. 

Justine x

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