Bold, bright, and playful, Spitting Feathers are an independent brand specialising in luxury dressing gowns conjured from the mind of Huby-based designer Emma Thorpe. Made from vintage fabrics, each garment is both a symbol of modern sophistication and an heirloom of the past. We caught up with Emma to explore what comprises her signature style.
Emma’s journey with fashion design began with her role as a dancer in the 90s, where she’d make costumes for her fellow colleagues. In 2003, she graduated from Leeds College of Art, where she achieved a first class in Fashion and Clothing. It was there that she discovered her passion for breathing life into old materials. “My whole degree was based on nostalgia; using vintage tablecloths and hand embroidered ones,” she explains. “I get my inspiration from the fabrics themselves and what they feel like. I love the texture of things.”
She began to make Christmas stockings a few years later, and then volunteered her skills to help with the PPE shortage during the pandemic. “There was a call out from the NHS for people who could sew. I got involved, and from my village in North Yorkshire, I made scrubs for all over the country.” This led her to start experimenting with leftover fabric from her degree, and Spitting Feathers was born. “I created a gown and put it on Instagram, suddenly people were interested. Since then I’ve sold around 40 gowns.” For Emma, Spitting Feathers is an opportunity to nurture her talent. “What I want is just contentment in what I’m making, so I make clothes to a really good standard - I’m really particular about that.”
It’s these high standards that means Emma puts luxury at the heart of her brand. Her dressing gowns are made for lounging on the sofa with a glass of champagne in one hand, or wearing a face mask at your next home spa day. “It’s something that you can put on and feel nice in … It’s about looking after yourself,” she says. You can find an array of gorgeous florals, whimsical pastels, and vivid patterns in her collection. This is all thanks to the handpicked selection of vintage fabrics Emma sources online and from friends who work in fashion.
2022 has been an extremely eventful year for Emma, as she took the decision to finally brand her business, with help from the Yorkshire Marketing Company. Her peacock logo is a homage to not only the brand’s name, but her love of animals as well: at home she looks after four cockerels as pets.
That’s why York Fashion Week represents the next big step in showcasing Emma’s talents. “When York Fashion Week got in touch with me, I was terrified, but I had to say yes!” she beams. And her Independent Runway collection truly lives up to this excitement. Seeking to show a wider repertoire of her skills, Emma combines her signature style with new touches - experimenting with the clothes worn underneath each gown. True to the brand’s lively name, Emma proves that Spitting Feathers is certainly one to watch.
Written by Maya Bewley