London Hat Week: Interview with Founders Georgina Abbott and Becky Weaver

It’s my great pleasure to interview Georgina Abbott of Atelier Millinery (www.ateliermillinery.com) and Becky Weaver of HATalk (www.hatalk.com), founders of  London Hat Week www.londonhatweek.com.

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Picture credits: Slave2thevibe

The Inspiration for London Hat Week

What inspired you to launch London Hat Week?
GA:
We had the idea the first time we met. Becky came to my Soho boutique, Atelier Millinery, to interview me in her role as editor of HATalk, the e-magazine. We were chatting about the need for community for many people trying to make their way in the industry and how London is a centre for fashion and design. Before we knew it, we had talked ourselves into launching London Hat Week. Within a couple of days we had a domain and a set of social media accounts.

What are the main aims of this initiative?
BW:
London Hat Week provides opportunities for people to start or develop their millinery skills, to find new suppliers, connect with other people in their industry and make new friends. The social events such as the Hat Walk and the Evening with Stephen Jones and Hilary Alexander give London Hat Week visitors even more chances to wear a hat of their own or someone else’s design.

London Hat Week and Supporting Charities

Tell us more about your work with charities
GA:
We partnered with Brain Tumour Research from the start. It was an obvious fit as they were already up and running with their annual Wear a Hat Day. Once we got to know Hugh and Crispin and we met the founder, Sue, we realised that the connection was a lot more and we learnt that brain tumours kill the highest % of people under 40 of any type of cancer. With that in mind, we are fully committed to helping them raise funds and awareness whenever we can – not just during LHW. This year, the Royal British Legion also used London Hat Week as a platform to run some events to help launch their annual Poppy Appeal.

On Working with Stephen Jones

 How did you get Stephen Jones on board?
BW:
Stephen Jones OBE (note: see previous article on Stephen Jones) is an icon for most modern milliners and we have been keen to involve him in LHW from the early days to give as many people as possible the opportunity to learn from one of the best. This year, Stephen designed the Brain Tumour Research brooch and luckily his schedule brought him back home at just the right time to lend us his support. Millinery is a small world…

Opportunities for Young People

How can people get more involved in hat making? What would you suggest to young milliners?
GA:
Hilary Alexander asked Stephen Jones the same question at our highlight event and he recommended starting by making for friends and family as they should be your most honest critics. There are a number of ways to get started in millinery, from work experience and short courses to formal training and qualifications such as the HNC course at Kensington and Chelsea College. We run a number of half day and one day workshops at beginner level at Atelier Millinery for people who want to give it a try just to see if it’s something that they want to pursue. HATalk Social is a great network to join as an independent milliner to ask questions and pick up tips. The next London Hat Week will have even more learning opportunities so it’s worth signing up for the newsletter to get early warning about bookings – especially for free events.

The Future of London Hat Week

 What are your plans for the future?
BW:
Bigger and better of course! We aim to increase the number of workshops, grow the supplier fair and welcome more visitors to LHW to celebrate and support the trade. We are keen to be more inclusive by offering more hat wearing opportunities and retail events for those who love hats and don’t necessarily make headwear themselves.

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