David Nieper - Pure cotton nightwear

Young British Sewing Bee Competition for Schools 2013

March 28th, 2013

Here at David Nieper, we’re passionate about encouraging local skills, local talent and sustainable manufacturing. Because we don’t think it’s ever too early to start getting inspiring our young people to develop their creative skills, we run an annual competition for local schools which offers pupils of all ages a great chance to use their creativity and imagination.

The idea behind Fashion for Free is for pupils to create a wearable design that is just that – free! The result shouldn’t have cost any money to create, but should be made entirely from recycled, begged or borrowed materials. It’s a challenge for the pupil’s resourcefulness and creativity, and we’ve been amazed by some of the brilliant ideas and creations in previous years!

This year we decided to tie in our Fashion for Free competition with The Great British Sewing Bee, a new TV programme aiming to do for sewing what The Great British Bake Off did for cooking. At the same time it gave us a chance to use a play on ‘sewing bee’ to highlight the plight of the bee- a vital part of our ecological system currently under threat.

We came up with the Young British Sewing Bee Competition for Schools 2013. It’s open to all local schools, and will be judged in 4 age groups to include pupils aged from 4 to 16. They’re asked to create a garment or wearable accessory with a bee theme, using only recycled or repurposed materials, and incorporating at least one sewing skill – embroidery, hand sewing, knitting, crochet, appliqué, quilting, smocking, threadwork or decoupage. There are trophies and certificates for the school to win, and the children, along with their parents and teachers, are invited along for a private tour of the David Nieper sewing studios.

See our website for more information on the competition brief and entries. And get sewing!

To see what else you can do to help our bees, check out the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, the Bee Guardian Foundation and Adopt-a-Hive.

school slideshow0 300x216 Young British Sewing Bee Competition for Schools 2013

Molly Atkinson, aged 10, the Individual Gold Award Winner in 2012

Celebrating British Wool Week with Lambswool

October 17th, 2012

lambswool1 Celebrating British Wool Week with LambswoolEngland has a long and grand history of producing cosy and high quality knitwear, which isn’t perhaps very surprising given our climate! Wool has never been more versatile and fashionable than at the moment, and has its own official campaign running under the patronage of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. British Wool Week runs from 15th to 21st October 2012 with various activities taking place across the county to celebrate all things warm and woolly. Here at David Nieper, we thought this would be an excellent time to show our support for the British wool industry and our passion for creating sumptuous and unique knitwear.

sheep1 210x300 Celebrating British Wool Week with LambswoolSpeaking ahead of the Wool Week launch, the Prince of Wales said: “Manufacturers and designers have unleashed their creativity to show just what this fibre can deliver.” Here at David Nieper we’ve long recognised the demand for unique and stylish but hard-wearing knitted garments, and recently invested in our own high-tech knitwear machinery so we can ensure all our knitwear continues to be knitted and finished in-house, proudly keeping up our tradition of ‘Made in England’.

Now it’s turning decidedly chilly, and the time has come to wrap up in style with a luxurious wool cardigan or pull on a cosy roll-neck jumper, David Nieper’s luxury lambswool knits are firm favourites with our customers, and with their combination of warmth, softness and durability, it’s easy to understand their timeless appeal.

lambswool2 Celebrating British Wool Week with LambswoolWhy is lambswool so soft?

As its name suggests, lambswool is taken from a lamb’s first shearing, which usually occurs when the animal is around six or seven months old. This wool is short, so its fibres don’t have the weak points they are prone to develop as the fleece grows. Lambswool is resilient and very elastic, but also exceedingly smooth and soft enough to wear next to the skin next to skin.

Why David Nieper uses lambswool

Lambswool is blessed with many qualities that make it perfect for producing our wonderfully soft, supremely warm knitwear. For a start, it has a natural soft stretch that allows it to move with the body and maintain its shape wash after wash. It is extremely hypoallergenic and the short fibres hold dye well, making it very colourfast. Most importantly, lambswool is very breathable and insulating , keeping you comfortably warm in winter while still being cool enough for milder days. Lambswool is also incredibly resilient – testing has revealed that it outlasts other natural materials, even cotton. With proper care, our lambswool knitwear can last for many years, and remain looking great the whole time.

sheep2 300x241 Celebrating British Wool Week with LambswoolIt’s all in the finish

There are many processes involved in turning the finest lambswool into our stylish and practical jumpers and cardigans. Most important to the final quality is the finishing, especially the washing, or scouring. This process involves washing the raw wool in hot water and detergent to remove grease, mud, thorns, seeds and whatever else the fleece picked up in the field! This is a very expert process as the more the wool is washed, the more natural lanolin is lost, and dry, frayed fibres make for itchy wool.

David Nieper Lambswool

David Nieper select only the finest quality lambswool which is spun by a centuries-old mill in Yorkshire and then knitted up into exclusive designs by us here in our Derbyshire workrooms. Supporting the British wool trade means we can be confident of the luxurious softness and resilience of the yarn we use, and ensures you will be able to enjoy your knitwear for years to come.

See our women’s lambswool cardigans and lambswool jumpers from David Nieper, or visit David Nieper for more information on our knitwear collections.

Article by David Nieper

Behind the job title: What it takes to be a trainee fashion designer

September 6th, 2012

The fashion industry can be challenging, inspiring and rewarding, and it can also be notoriously difficult to enter. Charlotte Frisby, trainee designer for David Nieper, explains how winning a competition and paid internship has helped her career. 

Anyone dreaming of a career in fashion knows it’s not going to happen overnight. I was determined to get my name known, and my big break into the fashion industry came in 2010, just after I finished my BA in Fashion Studies at the University of Lincoln.

I entered a competition for David Nieper, a clothing company based in Derbyshire, which involved designing a five-piece, high-quality range for women over 45, including the marketing strategy and plan. As I was one of four shortlisted, I was invited to the company for an interview day and to talk through my designs. I was so excited when I was announced as the winner of a six-month paid internship there, as I knew how important hands-on experience would be. I graduated from university and started my first day as intern the next day.

My advice to anyone considering a career in this industry would be to get plenty of experience and build up your portfolio and network of contacts alongside your studies. There are so many great fashion houses in the UK – and not just in London – and you really need to get out there and start meeting people in the industry and show them what you can do. Competitions are a great way of getting a break; it is a good idea to keep an eye out for them, as you never know where and who they could lead to.

My internship was a real eye-opener, as at university I had studied a range of skills including design,but I didn’t learn as much as I did at David Nieper. This is due to the fact that they design, manufacture and sell everything from their Derbyshire headquarters. So I got to see the whole process and spend some time in each department, including the photographic studios, mailing room, customer services and their on-site boutique.  David Nieper focus their designs on women over the age of 45, so one of the most important skills I’ve learnt is designing for different ages and shapes. I have to get into the mind-set of the lady that I am designing for and think what it is that she would want, as she would like something that is modest and comfortable while still being glamorous and appealing to the eye.

The internship led to the company taking me on full time as a trainee designer.  I am still learning new things and there is more I need to learn, but I am now designing nightwear alongside the head designer, Julie Stone, and some of my designs are already on sale.

I have been at the company for two years in September and I feel that I have come a long way since university. David Nieper has helped teach me about the industry and what it takes to design for a niche market.  I feel very privileged to have my designs on sale and very excited to see that our customers are buying them. This is a great feeling.

I’ve also been named as one of the Make it in Great Britain ‘30 under 30’, which means I’m now an ambassador for the Make it in Great Britain campaign. We’re aiming to challenge outdated opinions and transform the image of modern manufacturing, and my role will be to work with other young people, highlighting the great jobs and careers that are available in the industry.

David Nieper runs design competitions for local school children, and I think this is a great way to get younger people thinking about the industry and visiting the company to see how we work. During a visit to the company by David Cameron, I got to tell him how important it is for companies to take on graduates as interns, as from my experience, paid internships, apprenticeships and work experience is the answerto students and graduates gaining vital skills that aren’t necessarily taught at university.

It would be great if more companies would open their doors – learning on the job really is the best way to get the skills you need.

Working at David Nieper has completely changed my outlook on design. I now spend my days working alongside designers, pattern cutters and graders. During a normal week I could be splitting my time between contacting agents and suppliers, viewing and ordering new fabrics, designing garments for the new collection and analysing past ranges for information on what to design next season.I enjoy undertaking a range of jobs which all have a hand in ultimately creating a new collection for the new season.

I’m so proud of everything I’ve achieved so far, especially as I know I made it happen myself. Real, hands-on, day-to-day experience is so valuable, and isn’t something you can learn in a classroom. So have faith in yourself and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.  Don’t wait for open doors, you have to knock too.

Charlotte’s views are echoed by Julie Stone, senior designer at David Nieper. “Often graduates are very single minded about design and don’t have, or don’t want to have, wider experience. Charlotte is very broad minded and has been willing to learn about every single aspect of the company, which is why she is proving so successful.”

Maria Manning, programme leader of BA (Hons) Fashion Studies at the University of Lincoln, agrees: “The fashion industry is very competitive. Most job advertisements require that applicants have experience because companies want to know that candidates have spent some time working in the real world and have the ability to meet deadlines, communicate effectively and work within a team, as well as having the appropriate fashion expertise.” 

Charlotte Frisby is a trainee designer in the nightwear department at David Nieper.

Article by David Nieper

Celebrate the Diamond Jubilee with great British design

May 31st, 2012

jubilee logo Celebrate the Diamond Jubilee with great British design

What a wonderful year for Great Britain! Only once before in our nation’s history have we been able to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee, when Queen Victoria, our current monarch’s great, great grandmother reached her sixtieth year on the throne in 1897.

How are you celebrating this once-in-a-lifetime event? Are you taking part in ‘The Big Lunch’ or watching the royal flotilla down the Thames? Perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to win a ticket to one of the events at Buckingham Palace? You may also have some weddings, country fairs or summer fetes to look forward to,.

Whatever your plans, at David Nieper you’ll find just the right outfit for the Jubilee as well as weddings, country fairs and summer fetes. How appropriate this year, when the eyes of the world are on Britain. to wear very best of British design and craftsmanship, as all our styles are exclusively designed and made in our own studio and workrooms in the heart of England.

You can find out more about our “Made in England” collections on our website.

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