Clothing from Sixteen47: A good product made in a good way
Imagine the scene. 1986. Floodgates of rain and an open stall in a Saturday market in London. A brief preview in Time Out. The first offering of our clothes to the public. Squelching underfoot. Our garments becoming sodden by the second. Yet…yet…
Sold out in half an hour!
Such tiny beginnings soon became …
a shop in Camden and a much bigger store off Oxford Street – as we became one of the pioneers of an entirely online fashion business. We have customers still from those early days, loyal to our brand and our aspirations!
What was – and still is – our core dictum over these last three decades? Put simply it is to produce good clothes made in a good way.
Sixteen47 offers classical designs with a contemporary feel, using high quality fabrics, whether prints or plains. Just as the designs remain fashionable over the years, the fabrics are chosen to last, too.
We are all-inclusive in our care for our customers. We recognise that women come in all shapes, sizes. Our sizing system captures all 16 conventional sizes in 6 unique size options, 1-6. By combining dimension with scale and proportion, and by conscripting every seam, line and element into the service of this objective – the we ensure that no one will ever be unable to find a garment that will fit. Having this as a given we source the most beautiful fabric qualities and prints available – ensuring sustainable provenance – and play with images and visual codes through silhouette and detail.
Women come in all shapes and sizes and also, obviously, in an infinite variety of characters and aspirations. Our clothes are intended to have a multivalence that primarily showcases the wearers personality.
While we expect to attract customers from all backgrounds, personality types and with differing tastes our clothes must represent a positive statement about how a woman feels about herself; unique, purposeful, confident, special and in tune.
We re-use successful silhouettes and introduce endless variety though print, texture, drape and detail. This enables us to do very limited editions economically so it is rare for our customers to come across anyone wearing the same garment! Customers say that they often recognise a Sixteen47 garment being worn but never see one they have.
We seek out fine fabrics at fair prices to give value and do not discriminate when we sell our garments. Everyone purchases them at the same price, whatever the size.
French & Teague 1995-2005
Sixteen47 1991 to date
Finally, we have among the lowest returns in online fashion. Why? Because we have a unique blueprint designed to create the best possible fit, we only buy fabrics which help to fulfil this fit and we aim to present our garments with visuals and descriptions that are as accurate as we can make them.
In a good way
The repositioning of the Company as a wholly online enterprise was soon followed in 1998 by the inauguration of its associate manufacturing factory in Accra, Ghana. Helen Teague is of Ghanaian descent and wanted to create an opportunity for Ghanaian clothes makers. We operated the new factory on the basis of just commerce. This meant a good wage, not merely a ‘living wage’ (3 times the national average for clothes’ makers in Ghana), medical support, western health and safety conditions and a 35 hour week. All the staff, despite having little education beyond primary school, received regular in-house skills training – and many are now also proficient in IT, using Photoshop, Excel, email and Word.
(see our blog “End of an Era” – The ownership of Sixteen47 Ghana Ltd, a foundation stone of our business was transferred to a local enterprise in 2018 and our clothes are now all made in the UK.)
Sixteen47 Ghana Ltd in Accra, Ghana 1998-2018
100% of our clothes are now made in the UK.
London supplier – this pic was taken of them in 1908 and this factory has been handed down from Great Grandfather Great Grandson.
All through our relations with suppliers and producers we adhere to the same fair principles.
To sum up – what is the formula for our blueprint?
Quality fabrics + Quality manufacturing + Fit +Just commerce +Value for money
+ Longevity + Positivity + Inclusivity
We would have loved to have been part of the evolving story of how women choose to represent themselves through clothes and a huge regret will that by closing our windows now (s/s2019) we will no longer be actively part of this adventure.
Goodbye from all of us at Sixteen47