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Emma Willis

Emma Willis MBE trained at the Slade School of Art in London before starting her shirtmaking business in 1989, visiting customers in London and when the recession hit the UK, New York and Paris to measure and take orders for bespoke shirts.

Her shirts were made in a small highly skilled shirt making workroom in South East London she found, with one cutter and five seamstresses, which she and another shirt maker took over when the little factory was having trouble achieving enough orders to keep it going. This introduced Emma to the craftsmanship of traditional Jermyn Street shirt making and the skill and passion of the cutters and seamstresses keeping it alive.

All the shirts, nightwear and boxer shorts are hand-cut and sewn in the larger factory Emma started in 2010 in Gloucester, housed in an 18th-century townhouse for a spacious, homely, light-filled working environment where so much hand cutting, sewing, sock weaving and embroidery needs strong, natural light.

Emma’s passion for high-quality British manufacturing, making the most of the commercial and economic value of the Made in Great Britain label and creating employment drive her business. Her aim is to continue to grow the Gloucester factory whilst maintaining all the traditional methods of shirt making and hand cutting, employing and training local, young people, to become a world-famous British name known for quality, service, reliability, honesty and compassionate employment.

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Emma Willis trained at The Slade School of Art before starting her business in 1989, designing and making men’s luxury shirts, ties, boxer shorts and nightwear all made in England. In 1999 she opened her elegant and intimate shop in Jermyn Street, London. Her philosophy is to adhere to traditional English shirt-making techniques, using luxurious Swiss and West Indian Sea Island Cottons, and employ local, skilled craftspeople.

In 2008, in response to the numerous young, severely injured service men and women returning from Afghanistan Emma founded Style for Soldiers, a registered charity supporting those injured with morale lifting fine clothing and reunion parties. She visited the military rehabilitation hospital for 10 years, measuring the patients for bespoke shirts and walking sticks and the charity now also supports the partners and children of those injured with family reunion days out. HRH The Prince of Wales is a supporter of the charity and has attended their reunions.

In 2014 Emma was awarded an MBE in Her Majesty The Queen’s New Years Honours list for entrepreneurship, she is a Deputy Lieutenant of Gloucestershire, an honorary fellow of Gloucester University for her active role supporting their Fashion Degree students and received a Points of Light Award that year from the Prime Minister for ‘outstanding volunteers who are making a real difference in their communities.’