Made in Britain
Founder of fine jewellery store monica vinader
Monica Vinader is a name synonymous with some of the most sought-after jewellery to grace the market. As a business beginning its humble existence in 2006 around Monica’s kitchen table in Norfolk just as the recession hit, it now impressively turns over £25 million. Launching its flagship store on Duke of York Square in 2014, the brand continues to gain a gaggle of loyal followers. It is Monica’s ability to tap into the mid-market, crafting accessible fine jewellery, that has led to her success. As the brand launches its most premium range to date, the Nura Collection, where prices range from £75 to £6,000, with finishes in 18ct rose gold vermeil and ethically sourced pavé-set diamonds, Monica tells Sophia Charalambous how she grew her dazzling empire …
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR Proudest achievement to date?
“Personally, I would have to say having my daughter, Scarlett, and watching her grow up these past 10 years. I can’t believe how fast it goes!
Professionally, it would be the recent launch of our first US store in Soho, New York. This has been a long-term dream of both mine and Gaby’s (Monica’s sister and company director), so to see it realised, with the support and hard work of the team, makes me feel very proud.”
What was your childhood like?
“My sister (and business partner) and I were born in San Sebastián, in Spain, and moved to Madrid when I was 10 years old with our mother and father, followed by England in our teens. My earliest memories of jewellery come from my mum and from exploring her vast jewellery collection – a fascinating mix of costume and fine jewellery – and spending hours playing dressing-up in her closet. I was always free to try on and play with the jewellery from a young age and though many of the pieces were precious, my mum was never precious about them herself. She encouraged me to see, touch and enjoy, and this generous attitude towards jewellery had a profound effect on my outlook, shaping my brand vision of designing and creating accessible, instantly wearable jewellery.”
Most prized jewellery possession?
“My engagement ring – I designed it
with my husband, Nick Zoll, incorporating one of my favourite precious stones, sapphires, with a princess-cut diamond, and set in yellow gold.”
Favourite MV creation?
“That is a tough one, as I seem to have a favourite in each collection. My everyday pieces include my Naida mini lotus open drop earrings, a stack of bracelets and a long necklace stack, including a variety of pendants, one of which is engraved with a drawing my daughter drew of our dog. I love to mix and match the collections, often old favourites with upcoming new pieces, always making sure to include everyday diamonds with a splash of colour from some semi-precious gemstones. One of my current favourites is our new addition to the Linear Friendship Collection, Linear Bead bracelets, which work so well with our new emoji engravings.”
“Natural stones are at the heart of everything we do, and I spend much of my time developing our bespoke cuts of gems, searching for stones with personality and looking for new ones to work with. I really love turquoise at the moment for that pop of colour, which looks great in all three finishes. Pink quartz is also a strong favourite for more of a warming colour.”
What message is engraved on your friendship bracelet?
“My daughter’s name – Scarlett.”
Why did you choose Chelsea for your flagship store?
“The King’s Road is iconic, and being on Duke of York Square places us in the heart of a prestigious shopping district. With the Saatchi Gallery a stone’s throw away, we couldn’t be better placed.”
Why create the Nura collection?
“For Nura I wanted to create a collection that was both accessible yet elevated, offering both entry price-points. The collection is a mixture of both plain and diamonds, which you can stack and style with current collections like Siren, for a more pared-back, everyday look, or alternatively choose one of the stand-out cocktail pieces to dress up an outfit.”
71-72 Duke of York Square
Founder of knitwear brand brora
For Victoria Stapleton, it was a passion for homegrown skills that pushed her to launch Brora in 1993. Growing up in the Scottish borders, Victoria cut her teeth at the Hunters of Brora mill, which her father bought in 1990, before launching her own brand from her flat in Parson’s Green.
“I was brought up surrounded by extremely talented craftspeople,” she says. “I strongly believe in ‘made in Britain’, especially when the product is made so very well on our shores.”
Although its roots may be in the traditional textile towns of the North, Brora has been on the King’s Road since Victoria opened her first shop in 1995. “Many things about retail have changed over the last 25 years, but my philosophy hasn’t,” she says. “One of my passions is to support British mills.”
Championing the work of independent suppliers that have weathered the decline in British textile manufacturing is vital, she explains, to keep the craft alive. Of course, sometimes that means paying a little more than she might if she looked overseas. But, she says, margins are not what’s important.
“I have seen British manufacturing struggle as retailers move off-shore, seeking higher margins,” she explains. “However, many of the manufacturers we work with are small, family-run firms and they know they can rely on our annual orders and therefore know where they stand. It’s a big responsibility for us, but it’s an important part of the business.”
While Brora is proud to be a British house, sourcing the best crafts-people is key, and sometimes this means looking beyond the UK. “We use suppliers that are specialists in their field, so we have one factory in Delhi that does all our hand-embroidery, lace work and detailed embellishments,” Victoria explains.
The cotton is sourced from Portugal and the espadrilles from Spain, but the cashmere, wool and tweed are produced and tailored here in Britain, and that won’t change as long as Victoria is in charge.
6–8 Symons Street
Founder of menswear brand Hackett
“When I first set up shop in 1983, it never occurred to me that I was creating a British brand.” The sentiment seems incongruous coming from Jeremy Hackett, founder of eponymous menswear brand Hackett that has become synonymous with the image of a classic British gentleman: fine tailoring, tweed, polo and rowing.
Hackett’s roots are firmly planted in this timeless style, beginning as a store in Parson’s Green selling high-quality, second-hand British men’s clothing, before moving into manufacturing its own apparel in 1985 to meet demand. Since then, Hackett has been associated with some of Britain’s most iconic sporting events and brands – Guards Polo Club, the Boat Race, Aston Martin – and opened stores all over the world.
“I believe our customers expect us to champion British products, and they want us to stand by that philosophy,” Jeremy says. And that’s true of Hackett’s customers at home and across the world. In fact, he believes his international customers think it’s more important to buy British than his customers at home do. “Britain has such a rich heritage that customers abroad have a romantic image of the British way of life,” he says. “I often hear them remark, ‘Hackett, oh so British,’ and I think to myself, job done.”
137–138 Sloane Street
It’s not easy to find leather goods produced in the UK, using material sourced from British tanneries, but Trevor Pickett proudly points out that this is exactly what his eponymous business does. “I have always retained the roots of British craftsmanship, combining tradition with a little of the exotic,” he says.
“Our craftspeople have worked with us for nearly three decades and their understanding of our brand is evident in every stitch and every handle they produce.” 149 Sloane Street
“I think us Brits aren’t afraid of being different,” says Henrietta Rix, one half of the design duo behind RIXO. “We are really proud to have RIXO born and based in London, and we feel really strongly about representing the city.”
Henrietta and partner Orlagh McCloskey live in Chelsea and work from their “humble living room turned into a studio”, and nearby King’s Road is a constant source of inspiration. “There is a lovely, independent vibe about the area that we think fits well with our ethos,” says Orlagh.
Available at Bluebird, 350 King’s Road
One of the most enduring and iconic fashion items of the English gentry, Barbour’s waxed jackets are still made at its South Shields factory.
Available at Peter Jones, Sloane Square
Accessories label Mulberry produces the majority of its products at its two UK factories in Somerset. Available at Harvey Nichols, 109–125 Knightsbridge
Smythson has been producing leather
goods since 1887. The accessories and stationary are made in a factory in Wiltshire, while using suppliers in Spain and Italy. 141–142 Sloane Square
The designer himself may not be British, but Canadian-born Erdem uses factories in London and embroiderers in Brighton for his elegant women’s wear. Available at Browns, 160 Sloane Street
The Northern Ireland-born designer uses suppliers in his home town of Derry and others around London to make his stylish collections. Available at Browns, 160 Sloane Street
Founded by Mehmet Kurdish in the 1950s, Gina remains one of the only luxury footwear brands still producing shoes in London today. The master craftsmen are based at the north-London studio. 189 Sloane Street
New Zealand-born Emilia Wickstead launched her made-to-measure brand of elegant, feminine designs in 2008. She began making clothes in her Chelsea flat and now dresses everyone from Diane Kruger to the Duchess of Cambridge.
162A Sloane Street
British designer Anya Hindmarch is passionate about the craftsmanship that goes into making her accessories. As well as ready-to-wear lines, she has made-to-order pieces and bespoke services, made in the UK. She is also a UK trade ambassador.
157–158 Sloane Street