INTERVIEW WITH CWB MAGAZINE

INTERVIEW WITH CWB MAGAZINE

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We are delighted to share with you our interview with Childrenswear Buyer Magazine!

Thank you so much to CWB for allowing us to share our journey. Having an ethically manufactured business is such a strong personal value for me and I believe

Discover what inspired us to launch Ira & Isla Baby and Kids. What sustainability means to us how sustainability is woven into design stages  and whats in store for our next pieces!

We are continuously looking for new ways to improve processes to protect our planet, we have so much more to show the world yet and we cant wait to share it with you all. 

Read the full interview below!

Laura Turner: What inspired you to launch Ira & Isla?

Jasleen Kaur: My husband and I had the concept for Ira & Isla back in 2013, shortly after having our second baby, Isla. A womenswear designer myself, I interned at Mathew Williamson during my degree at the London College of Fashion. However, due to economic realities, I chose to become a secondary textiles and food teacher. After the birth of Isla I planned for the launch of Ira & Isla Baby and Kids, which took over seven years to get off the ground. When Ira and Isla were little I always bought them charming frocks, but I realised there was a gap in the market for luxury childrenswear handmade in Britain. The market appeared saturated with children’s clothes, yet I could not find high-quality traditional dresses. I started designing a collection using the girls to model samples and toiles, drape fabric and work out which shapes fit well and what would adapt best to children’s bodies. We officially launched the brand in December 2022 with the capsule collection.

LT: Can you tell us more about the brand’s production?

JK: Ira & Isla designs are ‘proudly made in Britain.’ Across all aspects of the business, we work with a fantastic team of skilled artisans in Britain who share the vision for quality and limited production. The seamstresses we work with are talented, experienced and dedicated to perfection. The result is a treasure trove of beautiful dresses for all tastes and occasions. There is something magical about the smocking and embroidery. Lace trimmings also play an important part in the elegance and timelessness of the garments. We truly believe the only reason an Ira & Isla dress will stop being worn is that it has been outgrown after taking the hem down and hasn’t been passed on to another child yet.

LT: How do you design for sustainability?

JK: The starting point is a high-quality product. From there, landfill wastage is naturally reduced. Sustainability for us isn’t just about the fabrics and manufacturing process, it’s also about extending the product life cycle through design. For example, through generous sizing and deeper hems that can be taken down to help ensure garments fit for two or even three years. Constructing children’s garments is sometimes a mystical art that is not easily mastered. However, in some styles, a few simple adjustments during design stages can eke an additional year or two out of the garments. The obvious place to allow for a child’s growth in height is the skirt hem. So, during the design stages, we include an allowance for an extra 4cm, depending on the style. This is achieved by letting the hem down exactly halfway through the second year and rehemming it to the original fold line. The fold will blend in with the stitches, the top hem will be barely noticeable, and the depth of the hem will still be attractive. We’re currently working on new pieces taking provisions for growth in the sleeve construction, where we will add as much length as we can to allow additional years out of the garment within the sleeve length. We are also designing pieces where buttons will be used at the shoulder straps so that they can be moved along the strap as the child grows. This is in addition to French seams, which can be opened when the garment becomes tight for the child. We don’t design collections for throwaway trends or one-day wear.

LT: What does the collection comprise?

JK: Our capsule collection is a trio of flowing dresses with an enchanting, vintage feel. There are soft velvet and irresistible Peter Pan collars trimmed with British lace. Yokes on Liberty fabric trimmed with ruffles inviting us to dance. Beautifully illustrated flowers complemented by elegant autumn leaves. Vibrant butterflies camouflaged perfectly within the entwined leaves, with hand-smocked embroidery reminding us of a trellis spring walk. We create garments that have the potential to become heirlooms and design garments that last long after a child outgrows them, to be passed on to siblings, children and grandchildren. All our accessories are made consciously by artisans in Britain using leftover fabric. All our knitted pieces are created by artisans in Britain, too.

LT: How else is sustainability woven into your business?

JK: Extending the lifespan of our products and minimising waste is at the core of Ira & Isla Baby and Kids. As well as designing to minimise waste, we emphasize sustainability by introducing responsible practices beyond the fabrics and manufacturing process. For instance, we work with manufacturers that offer low minimum order quantities. This allows us to produce new designs and reduce waste. It was fundamental to us to manufacture our products as much as possible in the UK to keep our carbon footprint to a minimum.

LT: Is there anything else you are doing to reduce your carbon footprint?

JK: We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint in several ways. In particular, we are working with suppliers in the UK, which reduces the number of air and road miles between factories and our UK studio. Additionally, all the cardboard and tissue used for our packaging are made from recycled materials and we do not use plastics. We are at the beginning of our sustainability journey and are continuously looking for new ways to improve processes to protect our planet. We aim to inspire future generations by becoming one of the best sustainable luxury children’s fashion brands.

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