LONDON — Alice Temperley is going back to her roots, moving her design studio and company headquarters from London to Somerset, England, in the countryside town of Ilminster.
The southwestern coastal county of Somerset, where Temperley grew up, is known for its verdant landscape, apples, cider, Cheddar cheese — and the Glastonbury music festival. It had long served as inspiration for the designer’s printed, embellished, bohemian collections and Temperley was already dividing her time between London and Somerset.
The brand will be taking over the Gooch and Housego building, a well-known, historic property in the main square of Ilminster.
There’s a big bar in the building, too. The designer’s parents have an apple cider farm in Somerset, so cider-based and fruity drinks have always been on tap, chez Temperley.
The 22,000-square-foot Victorian building will house the design studio and production facilities, a training workshop, and a store offering both current collections and archival pieces. It will house the brand’s photo production and warehouse, as well as some of the manufacturing. Customers will also be able to book bespoke services and alterations.
“Somerset is the birthplace of the brand and the place that breathes life and magic, passion and freedom into my soul,” said the designer.
“To find a space with such character and a real connection to what the brand stands for, that offers room for the business and the brand community to grow is an incredible opportunity. We have always sought to share the Somerset dream with the world, and this is how we’re going to do it.”
The designer, who had been working from her west London atelier for the past two decades, said in an interview that she was decamping to Somerset for a variety of reasons.
Temperley wants to build a more local industry, create jobs and opportunities for the community, and promote more sustainable practices. To wit, she plans to launch a bespoke service that makes use of deadstock fabric.
The designer, like many of her peers, is also narrowing the number of ready-to-wear collections she produces each year down to two and will focus on creating more of a lifestyle offer. She recently added loungewear and pajamas to the brand mix.
Her townhouse store on Bruton Street will remain open, while p.r., marketing and sales will remain based in London.
The Ilminster building had in the past served as a magistrates’ court, a clothing factory and a laser technology factory. Temperley has been working on the building’s refurbishment with her boyfriend and co-investor, Mark Cresswell.
“It marks the next chapter of the brand, we’ll be able to do a lot more ‘made in Somerset’ collections and be able to turn [made-to-order] bridal dresses around more quickly, too,” said Temperley, adding that she spent much of her summer sanding, stripping paint and working on windows, electricals and plumbing alongside the builders.
She also said that the new space will help her “slow down, focus and take more time with one-on-one appointments in the atelier.”