Short Couture was created by me, Hayley Chalmers, with the simple aim of bringing beautiful, affordable clothes to shorter women.
Being 5’1” I’ve had a lifetime of clothes not fitting properly and not being able to find decent clothes for work. So I finally decided to start a business making them.
It wasn’t easy. I was an IT manager, with no knowledge or experience in fashion. It took me 18 months of research and I spent my life’s savings on the business. But then I had a website and products to sell.
I have learned a lot about the fashion industry and the process of getting garments from a sketch to a rail, and I know there is still so much more to learn.
I’d like to build a company that sells all types of Petite clothing, but I started with clothes that you can wear to work, because that’s what my survey said was hardest to find.
So I have tried to create a collection of exclusive petite styles that you can wear to the office. I’ve put sleeves on the dresses too, as it seems almost impossible to find dresses with sleeves.
The dresses can easily be dressed up for the evening for those Desk to Dinner occasions. All the garments have been designed to have shorter sleeves and leg lengths but very importantly, the body and the ‘rise’ – the distance from the hip to the waist - have all been shortened. No more trousers that fasten around your ribs!
Everything is Made in England. I use a small factory/workshop in North London. I discuss the designs and the manufacturing process with them and it’s great because I can chat to the people who actually do the sewing.
I will never put production in the Far East. I want to make good quality Petite garments that you will want to wear for a long time. I have priced them to be affordable and comparable with the better quality end of the high street. All this means that I make less money of course, but this business for me is not just about money. It’s about giving Petites great clothes to wear.