Menswear designer Emma Willis MBE has responded to the Coronavirus pandemic by galvanising donations and a team of volunteer craftspeople to make NHS hospital scrubs.
Emma Willis MBE, who runs her eponymous boutique shirtmakers on Jermyn Street, has galvanised a team of volunteer craftspeople to turn their hand at making NHS scrubs.
Located on the street famed for its high-end gentleman’s clothing retailers, Emma normally tailors for A-list celebrities and royalty, including Prince Charles, David Gandy, Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Craig.
Emma who normally makes luxurious ties, boxer shorts and nightwear, says she’s meeting ‘depserate need’: “Our bespoke cutter Samantha’s mother is an NHS vascular scientist and alerted us to the desperate need for protective scrubs for hospital staff due to the current Covid-19 pandemic.”
The cutting tables and sewing machines have now turned completely to the production of NHS hospital scrubs. Emma said: “We hear the medics are very glad of cooler cottons than the usual polyester cotton, as they have to wear them under protective overalls and next to their skin. I have ordered 1,000 metres of our Riviera superior from Switzerland, so next week we will be able to start making the correct colour, but they are very happy with our initial’ multi coloured collection.”
A small team of cutters and seamstresses have been retrained to make the scrubs by head seamstress Kath Muir.
Kath’s son, Anthony, has delivered sewing machines out in the community with instructions to those at home keen to support. The home team includes Syrian refugee, Ibrahim Khalil, who is particularly happy to support the NHS. Emma said: “Britain gave Ibrahim back his daughter who was very ill when they arrived from Syria two years ago. The team are all so pleased to be supporting the NHS staff, and are working full-time when they could be furloughed at home.”
The trail-blazing tailors are calling for donations towards the cost of the fabric: £30 will cover one pair of scrubs.
Emma added: “When we are all back to normal, we will put the names of our kind donors in a hat and with great pleasure make the winner two complimentary bespoke shirts of their choice.”
To donate go to: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/styleforsurgeons
About Emma Willis
Emma Willis trained at The Slade School of Art before starting her business in 1989, designing and making men’s luxury shirts, ties, boxer shorts and nightwear all made in England.
In 1999 she opened her elegant and intimate shop in Jermyn Street, on the corner of St James’s and in 2010 her English shirt making factory opened in the centre of Historic Gloucester. Her philosophy is to adhere to traditional English shirt making techniques, using luxurious Swiss and West Indian Sea Island Cottons, and employ local, skilled craftspeople.
Photos shows: Lizzie Willett in NHS Scrubs she made in her lunch hour! And Emma Willis ready to deliver the scrubs to Gloucester Royal Hospital
See videos of craftspeople making the scrubs here https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ep780svh1319xpx/AABD6XChm4MOfYgwBKdXeZ_Ka?dl=0
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