We spoke to Liz Wilkin about the comfortable fashionwear with a Cornish connection
Supremely comfortable yet entirely practical – the Cornish Smock is a rare example of a design that seems to have mastered the balance between form and function. It began life hundreds of years ago as work attire for Cornish fishermen and is today seeing something of a renaissance thanks to Liz Wilkin. “I wanted to breathe new life into this old classic, it was a great garment that hadn’t gone anywhere”. Coming from a family who have farmed the same Cornish land for 400 years, it certainly seems that Liz is the right person for the job. “I can remember my friends and I wearing our own smocks as children – we’d be in them all the time!.”
Perhaps it is these childhood memories which sparked the desire to update such a versatile piece of clothing, one that has in just two years found favour throughout Cornwall and beyond, “I hadn’t appreciated the kudos of the Cornish tag,” explains Liz, referring to her trips up-country. Such positive esteem is justly deserved; shortlisted for ‘best new product’ at London’s Country Living Spring Fair, Liz cuts her various designs in linen, twill, wax and fleece fabrics from her workshop in Lamorna. They are then sown by three skilled ladies in nearby St Just in a local process which Liz is very proud of. “I’m making a Cornish garment in West Cornwall – it couldn’t be more Cornish.”
Clearly a business based on her love for her home, it wasn’t until Liz spent seven years as a solicitor in Helston before moving on to be a full-time mum that she took a chance to follow her passion. “I’d say to people who want to start a small business – just do it. Put some money aside and give it a go.” For many, such words will be encouraging advice, especially as Cornwall is such a hotbed of creative talent. “If someone said to me a year ago I’d have a shortlisted product, and have sold smocks to people all over the world, I’d have said no way!”
Cornish Wear smocks are available online from www.cornishwear.com
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