A Bit About Our Design Ethos

We were going to call this section ‘Our design process’ but it isn’t really a process in the classic sense, every design has a different journey. None of us has design or fabric technology qualifications but we feel hugely passionate about creating designs which are beautiful, practical and use the materials we have in the best way possible. What we do have is many years of seamstress experience, working with pre-loved fabrics and a flair for colour-matching. The company started with an original idea, resourceful sourcing, a passion for quality and a concern about the levels of waste generated by the global fashion industry - those values are still key to how we work as a design team.

We don’t spend hours drawing out our designs and we don’t copy other companies’ patterns. We look at the fabrics we are going to work with, think about what they lend themselves to and once we come up with an idea we experiment until we’ve got a prototype. We then experiment again, this time with the hundreds of colour swatches we have in the studio. We might see if the prototype works well with other types of fabric. Sometimes we find that one of our existing designs works better, at other times we know we’ve got a completely new product. We always try to come up with products that can be worn in a variety of ways, are practical and enjoyable to use.

We recently took delivery of redundant stocks of black velvet and a stretch fabric with liberty print which we’d saved from the warehouse of a vibrant fashion company in north London. Using redundant fabric is a fairly new thing for us and an exciting opportunity.

The first time we did this was when we used redundant parachute fabric...Our challenge: how could we make a product that customers really liked, out of fairly dull-looking parachute fabric that had a great story behind it (it just failed to pass the stringent quality checks required to give confidence to sky-divers opening up their parachutes as they fall at 150 mph and 5000 feet above the ground). Wouldn’t it be great to design a bag that was super-strong yet light and collapsible that shoppers who didn’t want to pay the new plastic bag charges could use instead? So we came up with a bag that customers can sport over their shoulders and made it beautiful by stitching recycled saris to the outside. No other company is making these bags; just Turtle Doves….. the result of not copying others’ designs but giving innovation and individuality pride of place. 

We're now excited to be working with the velvet we've bought and are planning to have our first small evening wear range ready for the autumn.

The other reason why it’s not a process is that we can’t always plan when we’ll be coming up with new ideas or new products. So much depends on business and individual priorities. We are a small company that’s growing fast. All of us have other jobs or domestic responsibilities, sometimes both, and we can’t accurately predict customer demand nor when ‘new’ materials will be available for us to look at and perhaps buy. Sales this summer of 2016 have been far higher than expected so fulfilling this demand has had to take priority. 

Having said all that, we love to excite our customers and ourselves too! Our customer base has increased dramatically this year so we are putting more time than ever into creating new products that we know many of you will like.  We love to hear what our customers think about new design ideas and our Trustpilot reviews are among the best in our peer-group. Loads of fabrics have entered the Turtle Doves creative lab in July and August and we are looking forward to launching loads of new products this Autumn.

We are always keen to hear from people who like what we do with ideas for new products or new fabric re-use opportunities...please get in touch if you've any inspiration for us!

Many thanks, Kate and the team

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