There’s something about the transition from summer to autumn. That ‘new school year’ feeling never seems to leave, even as we get older.
But instead of bagging ourselves the coolest new pencil case and a trendy new pair of school shoes, we switch out our sandals for boots, update our beauty regime and ponder the dilemma of ‘it’s too warm for this coat, but too cold for this jacket’ and it appears I’m not the only one who encounters this predicament.
When I stumbled upon Frimble online and made the connection between the Bedale-based business and stunning tweed jackets, I just had to find out more.
As I start to chat with Sophie Osborne, owner and designer of the female fashion brand, we instantly fall into the conversation of the seasonal transition dilemma as we discuss Frimble’s Autumn/Winter collection on a sunny August morning.
“Research is crucial in order for me to find the perfect fabrics. We work six months in advance, so it’s important that I get ahead of the game to make ladies have a comfortable wardrobe transition as the seasons change.
“It’s quite strange when you’re picking out the winter tweeds when it’s June and the sun is shining outside. While we can follow fashion trends and get creative with designs, we can’t predict the weather so it’s so important that I select the fabrics carefully.
“A big aspect for me is ensuring some of our tweeds are lightweight. Our Harper and Wentworth jackets are made from a lighter fabric and can be worn all year round.
“I think there’s a misconception that tweed and even jackets can only be worn when it’s freezing cold outside. So, we try to be versatile with our colours, style and fabrics. I source all of our fabrics from Scotland and Yorkshire, the British mills are so clever at what they do and there’s such a variety of what you can choose from,” says Sophie.
After completing a business degree and having a passion for fashion (specifically tweed) Sophie jumped at the chance to buy the business in 2012 after seeing an advertisement in the Yorkshire Post. A slight rebrand and a modernised twist on tweed, combined with the traditional core values of the business, Frimble has been transformed into what it is today.
But in order to get here, Sophie has had to wear many hats, one of them being the creative brains behind the gorgeous designs.
“When it comes to design, I like to try and mix things up and create items that are a bit different. I love bold designs and bright colours and at the moment we currently have a bright orange and a mint jacket in and it’s a flash of colour that looks great as a casual look with some jeans and a pair of trainers.
“The main thing I want to get across from my collection is that tweed doesn’t have to be old fashioned, itchy or heavy, it can be worn by anyone of any age and it can be stylish. I don’t want to go too wacky with the designs and often keep quite traditional, for example our Yorkshire Harper jacket combines traditional check tweed with a modernised oversized look and that definitely appeals more to my younger audience,” explains Sophie.
Traditional style with modernised twists is what Frimble is all about. The ability to complement anyone’s wardrobe at any time of the year.
As we chat about how difficult it can be to keep the ideas flowing in a creative job each day, Sophie explains the process of her creations.
“It’s difficult to stay motivated all of the time. You have to keep focused. Some days are better than others and sometimes it just clicks and I can be inspired by the colour of a flower and think I want that for a jacket. But for me, I don’t just sit down and design something, it comes in moments. Sometimes I think the best ideas come at night.
“Another way I like to work is by browsing through the catalogues I have from all of the British mills and pick out fabrics that really catch my eye, not necessarily always what I like, but what I think others will like or what I think will make for a great design,” says Sophie.
Attending shows, working in the Bedale store, getting crafty with designs and sourcing all of her fabrics from Scottish and Yorkshire mills, Sophie and her beloved business were booming, but then the world had other plans.
After a terrifying few months during the first lockdown, like many other growing businesses in the height of the pandemic, Sophie used this time to grow Frimble online, using the ever-growing world of social media to get the word out.
“The store being closed was terrifying. It really affected us at the beginning, especially because of our six-week rotation, we had no idea it was coming and we were sitting with all of our spring stock and no store to sell it in. So, we got online. At first, orders were flying out as people were adapting to the world of online shopping,” she explains.
“But then we encountered our second problem. Obviously, as further restrictions were put into place and we were all of a sudden unable to socialise outside of our households, attend events or visit the pub with friends, there was a lack of interest when it came to clothes and occasion wear. People weren’t going to buy a tweed jacket to sit around their own home.
“We were treading water for a bit and even though we’re through the worst of it, it’s still not over, we’re still dealing with the aftermath of the pandemic. Yes, it’s great we’re open, but the after-effects are still with us. For us specifically, there was a tweed shortage that came from the first lockdown and while we’re just getting over that now, we’re now faced with the ping demic and our small team not being able to work due to being pinged.
“But we’ve come this far and we can get through anything. It’s scary when it’s all out of your control – both in our personal lives and work. But you just have to keep going. Once you’ve got over one problem, then you can get over the next one – nothing is as bad as it has been and we just need to try and stay positive,” Sophie smiles.
One thing I think the majority of us can agree on, is that the pandemic taught us a lot. For each of us, that lesson may be different. But it showed us what’s important in life, it taught us to make difficult decisions and it allowed us to hit a reset button and think about what we want and what we need. For Sophie, the pandemic life lesson, along with preparing to become a mum for the first time, allowed her to see a clear vision for her business.
“This September, our Bedale store will be closing. It’s not because we have to, it’s because we want to. I’m guilty of being a bit of a workaholic and as we prepare for our bundle of joy to arrive, we need to do what’s best for us as a family and as a business.
“The pandemic has taught us a new way to grow, our course has changed from what we had originally planned and that’s okay. Our business has blossomed online and as we grew, something had to give and for us, it was the shop. But it’s not a bad thing, it’s an exciting thing. Now, I’ll run the business from my office and will have a showroom in Howgrave for customers to make appointments and come to have a look around and try the clothes on,” explains Sophie.
For Sophie, this autumn is all about spending time in the countryside with her husband and two sheep, going for pub lunches with her friends and cosying up on the sofa indulging in chocolate waiting for baby to arrive. Bliss.
“We were all so obsessed with working before, I still am a little, but at the end of the day, we need a work-life balance and life isn’t all about work. Looking after ourselves is so important. I’m so grateful I get to do a job that I love, I thrive off of it and I’m so excited to see where this journey takes us next,” Sophie smiles.
New chapters are about to begin, both personally and professionally for Sophie. Watch this space.