When did you realise Tatty Devine had made it, asks Clash of the label’s founders, Rosie Wolfenden and Harriet Vine.
“Very early on we sold one of our first collections to Harvey Nichols,” responds Rosie, “seeing our accessories on a shelf next to Miu Miu was incredibly exciting.”
Harriet meanwhile, perhaps the more garish of the pair (her bobbed hair pretty much acts as a rainbow’s canvas), offers the formal answer: “Being awarded MBEs for Services to the Fashion Industry last year was definitely a proud moment. When we received the letter we thought it was a joke!”
“Celebrating 15 years of Tatty Devine is pretty special too,” she notes, “and I feel very proud of what Rosie and I have achieved. I still feel excited when I see a stranger in the street wearing something that we have made.”
Launched in 1999 – three years after the duo met at art school (naturally) – the label now boasts two stores, on Brick Lane and Monmouth Street respectively, in addition to their Kent based studio and a full time pop-up at Selfridges, for whom they made a celebratory cake five years ago when the yellow megastore approached 100.
Says Rosie, “In 1999 the Tatty Devine girl was all about DIY, crafting and charity shops. Today she is all about digital culture and shopping on her mobile. The one thing that hasn’t changed is her love of music, going to gigs and being an individual.”
Adopted proper by fashion fans in the early 2000’s, Tatty came of age at the same time as bands like Chicks on Speed, Le Tigre and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, mirroring a similar aesthetic. Kitsch was a key word, to use funky wasn’t ironic, and kitten heels were a thing; the world was ready for women to announce themselves via an acrylic name tag.
Today it retains the same perspective – fun is still a priority and 2001’s plectrum necklace has become almost iconic – though additions to the line up have been made; ‘grown up’ pieces produced exclusively of metal, even.
A clothing line was briefly introduced in 2003, showing with Fashion East at London Fashion Week alongside other colour enthusiasts, Jonathan Saunders and Roksanda Ilinic, while collaborations throughout the label’s life have seen it remain relevant.
As well as making merchandise for Peaches and Belle and Sebastian, Rosie and Harriet have worked with artists like Gilbert and George and Rob Ryan, plus fashion designers such as Ashish, Peter Jensen and Louise Gray; most recently they contributed to the Kit Neale SS15 offering.
But dreams remain. Harriet names future collaborative hopefuls as Grayson Perry, Cindy Sherman, Metronomy, Gillian Wearing, Warpaint and Prada; “The list is endless though!”
To celebrate their 15th anniversary, September sees the launch of a special birthday line, with the reproduction of 15 favourites, a design for every year, from 2000’s Coco Chanel lookie likey vintage lady, to a statement banana from this year.
Alongside the collection the ladies have taken over the shop at the Southbank Centre for a month. A picture of Perspex, XXL sized versions of their creations hang from the ceiling and a ‘story of…’ covers the wall. “Southbank Centre is such an iconic institution and feels like the perfect place to celebrate 15 years of Tatty Devine,” confirms Rosie.
They will host workshops every weekend, because as she puts it, “Tatty Devine is all about sharing ideas and we love meeting our customers,” while the company’s aim Harriet tells us, is to continue what they started when a woman from Vogue admired her brooch. “To keep making original, playful jewellery and sell it in interesting spaces.”
Words: Zoe Whitfield