Thirsk-based Joseph Turner launches women's fashion range

They are already well known for menswear but Thirsk-based Joseph Turner will this month show their feminine side when they launch their women's range, as Paul Mackenzie reports


It’s said that the customer is always right, so when Joseph Turner’s customers started asking them to introduce womenswear, they listened. And, after conducting market research and meeting focus groups, the range will be launched this month. The company was founded 15 years ago by Christopher Legard when he became frustrated at a lack of quality men’s shirts in high street stores. And the same irritation has led to the creation of their new range.

Rachael Joyce, the mail-order catalogue company’s womenswear manager, said: ‘The high street has changed in the last decade or so and it is now much harder to find the sort of quality that a lot of women want. The high street and fashion have moved away from classic fabrics.

‘I don’t think any business has deliberately lowered its quality but things have changed year on year and season on season – the high street has become more price focused and it has become more difficult to produce more ranges of more traditional quality.

‘There are a lot of women on our database, women who buy for their husbands and sons, and we were asked by a number of those customers if we would consider producing womenswear as well as menswear.’

Some of those women were invited to join focus groups and to give their views on what is missing from the clothes now on offer, and have helped to shape the new Joseph Turner Woman range, which will in turn help to shape them.

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A recurring theme at the focus group was body image and the new clothes have been designed to flatter and compliment a woman’s shape – their ‘Illusion-fit’ denim and corduroy jeans feature innovative stretch technology to enhance the figure. ‘They really do give your great legs and a great backside,’ Rachael added.

The range – which has country, casual and town lines as well as a collection of accessories – also includes elegant shirts that are gently tailored for a feminine silhouette and knitwear with flattering scoop necklines. Fabrics used include Yorkshire and Harris tweeds, British-spun viscose jersey, Yorkshire-woven wool and British Millerain cloth.

And York-born Rachael, who has worked in women’s fashion across Europe for 21 years, added: ‘Right from the start Christopher’s attitude was that if we were going to do this it had to be done properly and well.

‘Joseph Turner is a small company that has grown steadily since it was launched in 1997. The beauty of being a small company is that it means we are able to react and to introduce a high quality womenswear range, using the best local suppliers. We are not looking to be the biggest, we want to grow, of course, and I hope that in a couple of years the womenswear would be equal in size with the menswear.

‘This all seemed like a big challenge when we started talking about it a year and half ago, but we have taken our time and got it right.

‘There has been a lot of doom and gloom in retail and in fashion in recent years but it is nice to be involved in a business that is doing well and looking to the future.’

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