Judy Dewsbery and Belinda Cockburn

The debut collection of the Clothesline emerged last Thursday, 28th April at the Beacon, Hastings, worn by women aged between 23 and 70, of sizes from 10 to 18 and with a variety of personal styles – real people not skinny models – in front of a near capacity audience. The show celebrated the differences between women and how the Clothesline clothes could be worn by all of them.

fumi 2-1

The outfits were designed by Judy Dewsbery and Belinda Cockburn in response to the sameness of the ‘throw-away fashion’ found in the high streets, including the troubling methods of mass–production. But really it was about satisfying their genuine passion for making clothes! The idea is that the clothes are simple classics of their kind, intended to be comfortable, wearable, timeless and able to be easily integrated into a woman’s wardrobe alongside old favourites, new and vintage pieces. Importantly the clothes should be adaptable to larger sizes while still maintaining the flattering fit; the cut of the garment is crucial (Judy trained at the RCA in Men’s Wear )

The fabrics are mainly natural – cotton, linen and wool – often vintage and always washable. Denim features heavily as that was the starting point with dungarees and pinafore dresses. The designs are always in small editions due to the nature of the often- limited availability of the fabrics and the fact that the Clothesline is a deliberately small business. Many of the designs are constructed with non-mass-production seaming that can almost allow the garment to be worn inside out. Construction is as much part of a design as fabric choice, silhouette and seam lines.

Belinda has always made clothes, and with no formal training has evolved a strong personal design style based on utilitarian and vintage garments especially, along with particularly high standards of sewing and finish. She loves vintage buttons, and has a magpie’s eye for unusual accessories and details. The collaboration of the two designers with such different backgrounds is very fruitful. Between them they have a hundred years of experience, complimentary skills and boundless enthusiasm.

Judy’s roots were in Camden Town-based independent fashion ‘house’ Swanky Modes (1972-1993), one of 4 women who were designing and producing at an exciting time for fashion in England (London? Britain?) when there were many independent companies among them Seditionaries (Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McClaren) and PX (Helen Robinson, now of SHOP in Norman Road); a time when it was possible to start a fashion business with virtually no financial backing, just an urge to make clothes and a very high level of optimism.

Judy 1

The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Hastings. There are many designers of clothes and accessories in Hastings and St Leonards, independent shops and many classes/workshops for more people to learn; perhaps there is an opportunity for a Clothes Festival to celebrate all the fashion (I use the term broadly) in Hastings?

Clothesline studio is open on Thursdays 2-5pm and 7-9pm, by appointment.
Contact details can be found at www.beaconhastings.com or 01424 431305. The Beacon (down track off the West Hill) 67-68 St Mary’s Terrace  Hastings TN34 3LS