Miranda Jessop meets the designing duo who are dressing the borough’s most discerning shoppers.
It’s my friend Dana who first introduces me to Wonderlust. An avid Instagrammer and dedicated follower of fashion, Dana’s enthusiasm for this independent fashion label is contagious, describing Wonderlust as her ‘happy place’ and posting photo after photo of her wearing fabulous creations. So when I discover the Wonderlust workshop and boutique are on my doorstep in Teddington, I decide it’s time to take heed of @dana_andtheredshoes. Wonderlust is the brainchild of Sarah Milmine and Sara Layton and I find them perched on high stools at the cutting table in the back section of the shop with a giant roll of pink leopard print fabric laid out before them. First friends and now business partners, Sarah and Sara tell me how they instantly hit it off when they met at a coffee morning five years ago, discovering a shared love of sewing. “We started making clothes together on our days off and talked about running classes to teach people how to sew,” explains Sarah. What Sarah really wanted, however, was to create her own fashion label but, as a brand consultant, she had no real experience in fashion, just a passion for designing and making clothes. Sara, however, had a background of 20 years in fashion design and production. “Sara convinced me that if this was what I really wanted to do, we could potentially make it work together.”
Deciding to test the water, they set about finding some space and, in September 2016, they opened a pop-up just around the corner from Sarah’s house in Isleworth. “It was a great workshop but, because of the location, we didn’t have a very high footfall of customers. However, what we did notice was that those people who did come in, absolutely loved the clothes and they would always come back and the next time they would bring a friend and then she would keep coming back and so on.” At the end of the six months in Isleworth, Sarah and Sara felt that they really could potentially make a go of it as long as they were based in the right location and so they started looking for a more permanent home for their workshop/ boutique combo. Wonderlust opened its doors in Stanley Road, Teddington in April 2017 and they haven’t looked back. Sarah heads up the design and sources all the fabrics as well as running the administrative and financial side of the business while Sara manages the staff and takes care of the production and technical side. “We have a great team of people working for us. I often describe us as the farmers’ market of fashion; our customers know exactly who has designed their clothes and where they have been made,” says Sarah. They describe the Wonderlust style as ‘casual and cheerful glamour’. “We are also very conscious that we don’t want to make throwaway fashion,” explains Sara. “We want to create a piece that people have an emotional connection with which will still be in their wardrobe in ten years’ time for the simple reason that it is their absolute favourite. We want people to be able to wear an item in many different ways for many different occasions and for many years to come.” Because they design and make everything themselves, Wonderlust clothes are completely unique and, to complement the range, they also stock a variety of handbags and jewellery, sourced from local designers. Wonderlust customers range in age from 14 to 80 but what they all have in common is an appreciation of clothes that are fun, frivolous, elegant and sophisticated. “When people come in, one of our team is always on hand to offer styling advice and we love seeing customers leave with a new-found happiness and confidence.”
Current bestsellers are a dramatic black and white organza skirt and a pair of drop waisted peg trousers in black satin. “As we are getting busier and busier, our customers are taking our clothes to some really exciting places; recently, we’ve had a sequin skirt to Las Vegas, a wrap dress to Barbados, a bikini top to Thailand and a feather skirt to the Vienna Ball!” After a successful pop-up shop in Teddington High Street over the summer, more pop-ups are in the pipeline and Sarah and Sara’s dream is to have a few permanent boutiques in different locations across West London. “For us, the very essence of what we are all about is in our name; Wonderlust is that magical sparkly feeling you get when you go into a shop and try something on that makes you feel really special. We want our clothes to make people smile both inside and out.”
Wonderlust, 141 Stanley Road, Teddington. wonderlust.london