To kick off our new series spotlighting the women creating the next generation of Northern brands, we spoke with Em and Jess, creators of Ellis and Low, a Manchester-based start-up that makes conceptual pieces for bold, contemporary women looking to shop small and sustainably. Named after the pair’s two glamorous Grandma’s, and with all the designing, making and packaging overseen by Em and Jess, we were keen to find out a little bit more about Manchester’s latest fashion design duo.
Tell us a bit about Ellis and Low, what is your USP?
We’re a startup luxury knitwear brand that creates conceptual pieces for bold, contemporary women looking to shop slow, small and sustainably. We love using colour and pattern to tell stories through our handmade knitwear, including tales from our own family history. Vintage knitwear and history in general really inspire us.
How did the two of you meet and how did you come to the decision to work together?
Believe it or not, we met at nursery so we’ve grown up together from the age of two! We’ve always wanted a business together and had many different, sometimes far-fetched, ideas. But, after university we realised knitwear was our passion and thus, Ellis and Low was born.
What was the inspiration behind Ellis and Low?
Audrie Ellis and Lily Low are our glamorous Grandmas. They taught us to knit and crochet at a young age so it’s only right we named our brand after them. We saw a gap in the market for fun, eye-catching sustainable knitwear and with our design styles being very different from each other, the juxtaposition makes for even more interesting designs.
Tell us about how you created your last collection?
We used our uni work as a starting point for our first two collections, the last of which was inspired by Jess’ textile designs based on the natural textures of wood and the cold-blooded nature of reptiles. We used a mix of handknit, crochet and wooden pieces to create a range of textures and the ideas for the shapes came from vintage knit patterns that our grandmas passed onto us.
What is something you both love about the North?
Other than the brill weather (!), our favourite thing about the North is definitely the people. There’s a real friendly vibe up here, you can spark a conversation with almost anyone. It’s full of creative minds so it’s a constantly inspiring place to live and work!
What can we expect next from Ellis and Low?
We want to grow our brand and get out there, attending maker’s markets and seeing our knitwear in stores. We hope to build our customer base so we can offer our bespoke heirloom knitwear service. This is where we’d use people’s family history and the stories they tell to design and make personalised pieces that can be passed onto future generations. We also have lots of exciting ideas for new collections so keep your eyes peeled!
Shop Ellis and Low here.