Katharine Hamnett is a British designer. Born in 1947, her father was a diplomat and she was brought up all over Europe. She attended 10 schools including Cheltenham Ladies College.
She studied fashion at Saint Martin’s School of Art and on graduating went into business with her college friend Anne Buck under the Tuttabankem label. The partnership lasted 5 years.
She then worked freelance in London, Paris, Rome, Hong Kong and New York before launching her own label, Katharine Hamnett London, in 1979.
Turnover grew rapidly and she was soon selling into the best shops in over 40 countries and was one of the first British designers to show in foreign capitals and license her brand in Japan.
She won the ‘Designer of the Year’ award in 1984, along with the Bath Menswear Award, and the Export Award from the BKCC.
She has held fashion shows in London, Paris, Milan, New York, Tokyo and Sao Paulo.
She was the first person to give their first commercial jobs to many of the world’s top fashion photographers - Ellen von Unwerth, Juergen Teller, and Terry Richardson.
She launched the careers of many supermodels, Claudia Schiffer, Nadja Auermann, Naomi Campbell, both in advertising campaigns and on the catwalk to name but a few.
According to market research she is viewed by the British Public as a ‘Bad girl with Integrity'.
She is known equally for her menswear as her womenswear, launching many fashion trends, inventing the slogan T, charitable contributions on product, distressed denim, and making clothes that are fashionable but never go out of date.
In 1989 she commissioned research into the social and environmental impact of the clothing and textile industry. Expecting to find nothing bad she instead found herself in a living nightmare: thousands of farmers and their families dying of accidental pesticide poisoning in cotton agriculture, and millions of people in the garmenting industry living in conditions worse than slavery.
Desertification, contamination of ground water and sea, hideous problems to do with processing synthetics, wool and leather, and millions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions etc.
This combined with a trip to Mali in West Africa in 2003 with Oxfam where she saw the plight of the farmers was her epiphany, and she committed from then on to only work with product that is produced ethically and as environmentally as possible.
During the period from 1989 to 2016 she attempted to change the fashion industry from within, got involved in many campaigns and lectured on sustainability all over the world.
She was appointed a CBE in the New Year Honours List in 2010 for services to the fashion industry.
In September 2017 Katharine Hamnett brought her brand back to market. Everything is sustainably produced in Europe in compliance with EU labour law, and sold by some of the world’s leading boutiques and department stores internationally as well as direct to consumer fromwww.katharinehamnett.com