This week some year 7 and 8 girls were chosen to visit the Emma Willis factory in Gloucester.
Emma Willis, who is a former Knighton House pupil, runs the world famous eponymous luxury British shirt makers with a shop on Jermyn Street in London and online worldwide sales. The pupils were extremely lucky to have a detailed tour of the Gloucester factory (a beautiful town house) where luxury shirts, boxer shorts, pyjamas, dressing gowns and walking socks are made using traditional methods of cutting and sewing, making to the highest standards.
From seeing the process of a bespoke shirt being made (using none other than David Gandy’s personal pattern!), to the ready to wear collection and even the boxer shorts the girls saw how every step in the procedure was carried out with the utmost care and precision. They learnt how and where the finest cotton is made, why the linen is sourced from Ireland and how to get a shirt perfectly folded! These handmade garments are worn by world famous names ranging from Prince Charles to Daniel Craig.
As the tour continued the girls learnt that running a successful business is often a bumpy journey and it takes dedication, hard work, attention to detail and a real love for what you do.
The girls were inspired by Style for Soldiers – the charity that Emma Willis has started in gratitude for the courage and sacrifice of our service men and women. Emma visits Headley Rehabilitation Centre for the injured to make the patients a complimentary bespoke shirt in the luxury cottons. ‘Over the last seven years we have made over seven hundred shirts for injured soldiers for many occasions – weddings, interviews and every day. Meeting the service men and women is humbling but also inspiring’. As a result of this the girls have organised a Style for Soldiers Day at school to raise money for the charity by wearing their own favourite top into school.
Over lunch Emma shared memories of her time at Knighton House School, some great stories caused huge amusement of the pupils!
One pupil said ‘I really liked meeting Emma and seeing the factory because it inspired me to think about how I can achieve my dreams in the future. It was really interesting to see a real fashion designer and how they make shirts and clothing. My favourite part was seeing how they sew the button holes in as well as hearing about Emma’s time at Knighton’.
Emma Willis will be returning to Knighton House to watch the fashion show this summer term, when each girl is creating a garment on the theme of ‘literary favourites’.
Knighton House School, near Blandford in Dorset, is a prep school for girls aged 7-13 and a pre-prep for boys and girls aged 3-7.
– Tory Williams