Shirtmaker to the stars, royalty and in fact anyone who values and appreciates beautiful tailoring, Emma Willis has bought the elegant 18th century townhouse she and her team of cutters and seamstresses have called home for the last eight years.
The business moved into the building, a classic Georgian style property with views of Gloucester Cathedral and its historic docks, in 2014.
Last year it even attracted a visit from HRH The Prince of Wales.
The Prince met staff; cutters, seamstresses and pattern makers including those who had trained under the company’s Conde Nast Sewing Scholarship set up by Emma and Conde Nast International chairman Jonathan Newhouse, an earning and learning project teaching young people to sew, creating rewarding jobs and vital to the future of the UK’s fashion industry.
Luxury shirt designer, Emma Willis, has been specialising in bespoke and ready-to-wear shirts, combining craftsmanship with the finest cottons, linens and silks, since 1990, produced at her Gloucester shirt making company based at the elegant 18th century Bearland House.
Emma has not only thrived in the male-dominated world of shirt tailoring for nearly 30 years but in 2008 she also founded registered charity Style for Soldiers with Ambassador David Gandy. “I was very moved when I heard stories about our young servicemen and women’s life-changing injuries incurred in Afghanistan and Iraq, how, in many cases, they would also lose their jobs and I was determined to do something to help.”
She decided to offer the injured service men and women a bespoke shirt as a gesture of thanks and began visiting the military rehabilitation hospital. Realising how many would now need medical walking sticks she then designed a customised orthopaedic cane, hand carved in Gloucestershire from black ebony, with a buffalo horn handle and silver band engraved with the soldier’s initials and regiment.
Over the years, she has gathered a loyal following of discerning and international clients, including His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. In the last few years, Emma Willis has become the chosen shirtmaker for the top UK film studios, with many great British actors wearing Emma Willis shirts, including Charles Dance, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Craig.
Her loyal team of exceptionally skilled hand cutters, seamstresses work from Bearland House in the centre of historic Gloucester, overlooking the cathedral, where customers are also invited to visit for bespoke appointments . Here Emma runs a continual earn and learn sewing training scheme funded by Conde Nast International, who wished to support her in her determination to encourage and employ young people in the creative British clothes making industry.