Now forgive us, but when we received an email inviting us to venture outside the safe space of London to visit a Leicester Atelier, we were dubious.
However, with many things in life, our apprehension was misplaced. Nestled in a quiet corner of Leicester City centre is Helen Howe’s atelier.
Helen met us at the station, and with a 5-minute walk, we were at a lovely 19th-century former industrial building with a lot of charm and character, the perfect creative working environment for fashion.
Howe’s atelier is a bright and airy space, with pattern cutting tables, sewing machines, bolts of fabric, and rails and rails of unique designs.
Entering the space we could smell the creativity and the comfort. The space was welcoming – this is, after all, Howe’s second home, where she works 6 days a week. Howe lives and breathes her brand.
Specialising in tweed, Howe’s designs are rooted in Britain and have a traditional homely feel. This is emphasised by her hardworking team, producing the entire collection form this one space.
The garments feel classic and timeless, yet are infused with a modernity that Helen and her team bring, taking wool and crafting it into modern and unique offerings. The collections are inspired by the world around us: nature, architecture, music and vintage clothing.
Having cut her teeth in the world of corporate fast fashion working for companies such as Next, Helen was able to learn all that was wrong in the industry and make sure her own business did everything right.
Starting in 2014, her collections had a strong equestrian feel, with riding jackets a staple. However, it is not all Horse and Hound; one of the main driving factors for the brand is sustainability. When talking about her line Helen said that “clothing should be expensive. I’m an advocate of buying less”.
Her garments are high quality and will stand the test of time, and this is the model that Howe hopes the wider industry will adopt.
The clothes are bold separate pieces comprised of jackets, coats, trousers and skirts. When talking about her designs, Howe said “in every collection (I hope) there is something for everyone”, and from what we have seen we can agree. With waterfall jackets in navy wool with bright cobalt blue splashing out from the lining in a twist, tweed biker jackets and her signature capes, Howe’s designs are strong, practical and wearable.
The collections are handmade in the atelier, where Helen and her team are running a small British version of Couture. The level of detail and consideration in the garments mean that the finished collections are beautifully construed to last.
The clothes are comfortable, practical and stylish. Her capes and coats allow you to add finishing touches to polish and refined an outfit.
Howe’s clients are also bold and unique women and inspire the process. “I’m designing for women who are strong, who are bold, they’re directional, running their own businesses” commenting on the strength in the collection she said that “the collection says that I am strong, but I am also feminine”.
This contrast is something you see throughout the pieces, with rich wools contrasted with bold bright linings, or wools reimagined in immaculately made corsets.
What is next for Howe? Well, when we asked her, it seems nothing is off the table. With discussions of Menswear, a children’s collection and perhaps even a showcase at LFW, there is a lot to be excited about and we can’t wait to see.
Find out more about Helen at helenhoweatelier.co.uk
To find out about other brands who are adopting a sustainable approach click here