Peach Eyes: Designer Jennifer Healy launches slow fashion brand

Jenny Needham talks to a Teesdale stylist who hopes slow, planet-friendly fashion becomes even more sought after in 2022

FEW can doubt now that our appetite for fast fashion is poisoning the environment. Around 300,000 tonnes of used clothing are burned or buried in a landfill each year in the UK, and the industry is responsible for more annual carbon emissions than all international flights and shipping combined.

So now that we know, could 2022 be the year we all start shopping more meaningfully? The year we choose clothes that last, not to be worn once and to be thrown away; the year we source items made close to home, opting for recycled or recyclable materials?

Jennifer Healy hopes so. Putting her money where her mouth is, the designer recently launched Peach Eyes, a slow, luxury, handcrafted fashion brand in the Northeast.

“I have to admit that I haven’t always been eco-conscious, but that changed when I learned about the negative impacts of industry on the planet, the treatment of workers and the throwaway culture,” says Jennifer. “While working in the industry, I was surprised to find how little was done here in the UK, very sad considering the rich history of clothing manufacturing in the UK.”

Peach Eyes prints are digitally printed as they are more environmentally friendly; fabrics are sourced responsibly, using recycled or organic bases wherever possible. “When we occasionally use fabrics made using traditional techniques, we work with established suppliers of high-quality fabrics, such as Linton Tweeds,” says Jennifer. The packaging is all recycled or recyclable and customers are encouraged to reuse all packaging products wherever possible.

The Barnard Castle designer is determined to prove that responsible shopping doesn’t have to be boring. Its vibrant pieces, aimed at people of all ages, have a graphic and retro touch, from trapezoid shapes to bold graphic prints.

Pink Tights, £ 22 Image: VEIL & GUN

The name – Peach Eyes – and the inspiration for the clothing line came from Jennifer’s grandmother. As a child, Jennifer visited her garden in Northumberland and painted with her in the kitchen. “Peach Eyes is actually a dwarf bearded iris. I often found this flower referenced in her gardening journal and fell in love with the name.” When her grandmother moved to Barnard Castle to be closer to the rest of the family, she continued to creatively inspire her granddaughter until her death in 2007. Now Jennifer lives in “grandma’s flat” with partner Ben and the dogs Django and Otis. “To pay tribute to the wonderful woman who helped inspire me to create this brand, I named each piece with her favorite flowers,” she says.

Juniper scarf, £ 70 Image: VEIL & GUN

Juniper scarf, £ 70 Image: VEIL & GUN

Jennifer’s fashion journey started early. “I told my parents from an early age that I wanted to be a stylist,” she says. “I remember saving up my pocket money to go to charity shops or to buy fabric from Boyes to make me bits and pieces. As a teenager, I volunteered at Marie Curie and also worked as a Saturday girl in the clothing agency. I loved talking about fashion with the people at Barnard Castle and window dressing.

“I think my love for retro was born out of this exposure to vintage fashion, and also out of my love for movies and music from the 60s and 70s. In addition to the retro aesthetic, I love the whole movement and what it meant for people at the time to express themselves in a new and exciting way. ”

Penelope Tee, £ 160 Image: VEIL & GUN

Penelope Tee, £ 160 Image: VEIL & GUN

After successfully studying for a Fashion Design degree at Manchester School of Art, Jennifer began her career in fashion by winning the prestigious Tu Scholarship Award 2018 at Graduate Fashion Week. “I was able to bring my designs to life as a collection on Sainsbury’s shelves. The collection launched in May 2019 and was sold nationally and online, which was a real pinch moment!”

This led to several years in the industry, experimenting with a variety of departments for the main street retailer, but Jennifer was increasingly drawn to exploring the possibilities of more responsible and creative design and decided to follow her dreams by founding the own label at his home town of Barnard Castle.

Peach Eyes garments are made very locally, in the Self Made studios in Bishop Auckland. “The company is very inclusive and offers opportunities for young people in the area,” says Jennifer. “I go every week to see them which made the whole production process so personal and the attention to detail is second to none. The accessories are manufactured elsewhere in the UK as I have not been able to find them locally for this factory; the hosiery is made very close to my old home in the Midlands. ”

The collection is aimed at people of all ages, with relaxed shapes, so they can be worn in different ways. “However, the collection is definitely aimed at an environmentally conscious and fashion-conscious woman, who still wants to wear a lot of color”. Jennifer’s favorite piece in the collection is the Lady Jane coat. “I love a trendy coat, even more so with matching accessories.”

Lady Jane's Juniper Print Trench Coat, £ 395 Image: VEIL & GUN

Lady Jane’s Juniper Print Trench Coat, £ 395 Image: VEIL & GUN

He also loves going back to the North East. “At the moment, it’s pretty rare that I have a day off, but I love taking dogs for long walks, followed by a nice cozy drink in town!” She says. “And I still can’t resist a good rummage through the charity shops!”

The fashion industry produces ten percent of all of humanity’s carbon emissions, is the second largest consumer of the world’s water supply, and pollutes the oceans with microplastics.

About 300,000 tons of used clothes are burned or buried in landfills every year.

Polyester garments, which are pumped up, sold and discarded quickly, just like single-use plastics, take 200 years to decompose.

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