Dorset based designers gaining reputation in the fashion scene

Lauren Barfoot

Lauren Barfoot - Credit: Archant

Dorset-based designers, labels and vintage boutiques are making their mark on the fashion scene. The county is also nurturing the fashion designers of the future as Chris Low reveals

The Designers

Lauren Barfoot - Textile designer

Originally from Frampton, Lauren Barfoot started studying textiles at the Thomas Hardye School in Dorchester, before being shortlisted for the Young Textile Designer of the Year award. Since graduating from the Royal College of Art, she has worked on luxury brands such as Thierry Mugler, and interned for Alexander McQueen, Holly Fulton, Orla Kiely and Zandra Rhodes, for whom she is currently Head Printer. From her studio in south London, Lauren works on commissions, freelance projects, and her own print collections. (


Minna Hepburn - Ethical, handmade and vintage clothing

Finnish designer Minna Hepburn has been based in Child Okeford for several years and draws much inspiration from the local landscape for her work. Her business began as a hobby selling vintage tops, but soon became a full-time enterprise. Minna’s label is now stocked around the world and has featured in magazines such as Vogue and Cosmopolitan. The emphasis is on handcrafted fabrics, and organic, locally-produced textiles, with new lines including children’s and bridal ranges. The latter has proved especially popular, catering to a wide age range, and uniquely, offering bridal dresses that can be worn past the wedding day itself. (

Minna, Unit 5a, The High Street, Shaftesbury SP7 8JQ (Open: Tues-Fri 10am-3pm; Mon & Sat by appointment only)


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Vintage & retro boutiques

What Alice Found, Bournemouth

Just down the road from Clobber is the vintage boutique What Alice Found which has been voted ‘Best in the South West’ by Grazia. Owner Nicki Grainger is also a stylist who specialises in fashion and makeup for photo shoots, theatre costumes and other fashion events. Her work has featured in several magazines, including Glamour, We Heart and Country Calling.

What Alice Found, 805 Christchurch Road, Bournemouth BH7 6AP

Tel: 01202 929531;***

Clobber, Bournemouth

Clobber sells vintage clothing and accessories for men and women, specialising in items from the 1920s through to the 1980s. It was voted one of The Telegraph’s 50 Best Boutiques in Britain. It sells through the shop, online and at London fairs. Brand names you’ll find on its racks include Ossie Clark and Biba. Recently, Clobber has added a new vintage menswear section with an extensive footwear and tweed ranges.

Clobber, 918-920 Christchurch Road, Bournemouth BH7 6DL

Tel: 01202 433330***

Vintage at Cornucopia, Bridport

Cornucopia sells vintage clothing dating from the 1920s through to the 1970s, focusing on jackets, dresses and hats. In addition to clothing and shoes, the items on offer also include vintage curtains, fabrics and retro collectables.

Vintage at Cornucopia, 4 St Michael’s Trading Estate, Bridport, DT6 3RR

Tel: 01308 538001

Shoes & Accessories

Sam Pearce - Footwear designer

Like Lauren Barfoot, Sam Pearce is a former pupil of the Thomas Hardye School, and has established a successful career in fashion. While studying at De Montfort University, Sam developed a 1980s-themed style of basketball shoe called ‘Rewind’. Since graduating, he has been Footwear Designer at Mercury Sports Footwear, and is currently in the same role at New Balance Athletic Shoes.


Nicky Rox - Bespoke shoe designer in Poole

Poole-based Nicky Rox began her shoe design company in 2009 as a service customising party and bridal shoes. Since then, she has started a highly successful series of design workshops that teach customers to decorate their own shoes and handbags using Swarovski crystals, feathers and pearls.

More details: 01202 757641***

Love from Hetty and Dave - Quirky handcrafted accessories

This Pokesdown-based shop specialises in leather and fabric shoes, accessories and jewellery. The handcrafted range of delightfully quirky designs includes bags, brooches, necklaces and hair accessories. You can also buy online. (

Love from Hetty and Dave, 864 Christchurch Road, Pokesdown, Bournemouth


Children’s Clothing

Turquaz, Milborne St Andrew

Fair Trade nightwear that’s funky and fun

It seems that you are never too young to take an interest in your wardrobe. That is clearly the view of Dorset’s numerous designers and stockists aimed at babies and children. Based in Milborne St. Andrew, Turquaz is a designer and retailer of children’s clothing that focuses on cotton nightwear and bed linen, in addition to nursery accessories. The nightwear range has proved so popular that it was recently expanded to include adult pyjamas for women. Turquaz is also a Fair Trade company, employing ethical work practices at its factory in South West India, and supporting the local community. More details: or call 01258 837 357


Kite Clothing

Planet-friendly fashion for kids

Kite Clothing is a Poole-based retailer of children’s clothes that recently won Best Pre-school Gift Range at the Progressive Pre-school Awards. The company draws strongly on the local landscape and Dorset coast for its colourful designs, and like Turquaz, has a strong ethical commitment. Its aim is for environmentally friendly production techniques, such as organic cotton and fleece, and recycled textiles. The extensive clothing range for 0-11-year-olds includes bodysuits, rompers and dungarees for the 0 - 3 year-olds, and fleeces, sweatshirts and knitwear for 2-11 year-olds.

More details: or call 01202 733222


Fashion Courses

Students on the BA (Hons) Fashion and Textiles at Bournemouth University gain knowledge of the whole design process, from sourcing fabrics to catwalk styling. At the University’s Festival of Design and Innovation, students have the opportunity to showcase their work and meet prospective employers. Graduates have gone on to work for big names in fashion such as Jenny Packham, Cath Kidston and Matthew Williamson. ( 01202 524111)

The Arts University in Bournemouth offers BA and MA courses in Fashion, where students are taught a range of design techniques, with a focus on ethical practice and research. The Fashion Design & Technology course is taught over ten, twenty or thirty weeks as Semester Study Abroad options. Students are taught in the studio and via practical workshops, and have the opportunity to specialise in areas such as buying, merchandising or technical design ( 01202 533011)


Fashion Shows & Exhibitions

Increasingly, Dorset is being used as a venue for designers to showcase their talent. Wedding exhibitions are central to the county’s fashion industry. Upcoming events include a wedding dress sale and wedding exhibition at Sherborne’s New Digby Hall on 12 January, an exhibition and fashion show at Poole Lighthouse on 16 February, a wedding fair at Upton House on 2 March and an Eco Wedding Fayre at The Green House Hotel Bournemouth on 9 March.

The inaugural South Coast Fashion Week is being held at Bournemouth International Centre (BIC) 9-11 May. This will be the largest event of its kind to take place in the county, and scores of designers, retailers and graduates will feature including Biba, Dior and House of Fraser brands. Shoppers will also have the chance to see catwalk shows and choose from couture, retro and high street collections. It is hoped that this fashion event will boost Bournemouth’s economy by as much as £1.6 million through increased tourism to the town. For more details visit or call 01202 971922.

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