‘Quality, quality, quality’.
That’s how GQ describes Emma Willis’ luxury shirt brand, worn by the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, David Gandy, Daniel Craig and The Prince of Wales.
Bespoke by design and by nature, Emma told Michael on this weekend’s Capital Conversation how her ‘made in England’ brand is proud of its roots.
“I really enjoy employing locally, I like to know the people I work with and I like something that’s authentic, that I’m proud to sell and we’re all proud to make.”
It’s a business plan that she believes has worked in her favour:
“In the last ten years, the ‘made in England’ label, the ‘made in Britain’ label, has got stronger and stronger.”
Why? “I saw a change after the financial crash. People were suddenly looking at buying more responsibly, thinking ‘If I buy British, I’m going to help the country’. I think it was patriotic, actually.”
But Emma aims to support Britain in more than just her brand. She founded the charity Style for Soldiers in 2008, in response to the numerous casualties incurred in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It originally sought to provide smart clothing to veterans to help them after leaving the forces: “You go back to Headley Court [rehabilitation centre] and think ‘that’s the crème de la crème of our country’.
“I don’t think we realise it enough and do enough. They have done so much for their country, we should be looking after them into their next careers.”
Ten years on, Style for Soldiers hosts the largest annual Christmas reunion for injured service personnel, as well as supporting the veterans in creative expression.
“I discovered a lot of them were using [art] for therapy. It’s a great way of re-ordering your emotions.”
Her exhibition – currently showing in Pall Mall – showcases the work of three men who served in Afghanistan, all suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Watch the full episode here.
See Emma Willis Ltd here.
Learn more about Style for Soldiers here.
Learn more about the exhibition here.