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International Women’s Day: Frankie on fashion

Frankie Davies is the founder of Charl Knitwear, using natural fibres, including 100% British wool, to create beautiful pieces of clothing and accessories designed to last a lifetime. Frankie has many years’ experience working for high-end brands such as Burberry and Benetton and started Charl with slow fashion in mind.

What gets you up in the morning?

The cat! Joking apart, I go through periods of variable focus - as I’m sure we all do! When the sun rises earlier in the spring and summertime, I try to do some yoga or meditation just to set the pace for the day before my little boys wake up. I also like to focus on what might come up during the day. I love the varied nature of my work because it puts me in contact with a wide variety of people, especially creatives, which is very stimulating.

How did you start in the industry?

I always wanted to be a fashion designer – my best friend remembers me drawing people with stripy socks from a very young age! I studied Fashion Design at Kingston University and when I graduated I took a leap of faith and went to work for a design studio in Milan thinking "If nothing else, I’ll learn the language!” From there, I got a job working for Benetton in Treviso, Italy and after 5 years I returned to London as a Senior Knitwear Designer for Burberry.

What do you love most about your job?

I love creating something from ideas in my head. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to have something physical to show for your efforts. Mine is a very tactile craft, working with yarns, fibres, stitches and colours – you create a textile as well as a garment in knitwear.

Are there any particular challenges of being a woman in the industry?

In the studios I’ve worked in we’ve all considered ourselves fellow creatives. The challenges come into play once you’ve had children and can’t or no longer want to go back to work full time. In both mine and fellow female designers’ experiences, it is very difficult to find a job as a part-time designer. This is a shame as we are often at our creative peaks after a career break having children. You don’t stop being creative or ambitious just because you are a mother! You are still the same person you were before – just better at multi-tasking!

Any particular highlights of your career?

One of the cardigans I designed for Burberry appeared on the front cover of Marie Claire magazine and Kate Moss wore it for the ad campaign. I thought “It doesn’t get much better than this!”

If you could give one piece of advice to people starting in the industry, what would it be? 

I have a saying on my pinboard - “Say you can do it then work out how to afterwards.” It’s always good to challenge yourself. But more seriously, fashion is a competitive industry and you need an absolute passion for your subject to be successful. Working out your unique selling point will help you stand out from the crowd.

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International Women’s Day: Frankie on fashion Frankie Davies, founder of Charl Knitwear
british wool knitwear Frankie's Marie Claire front cover