Debbie Murphy - Creator
Debbie Murphy - Vintage Clothing Restorer & Sustainable Fashion Designer - Tamworth, UK
“I am a dressmaker, using traditional tailoring, my experience of costume design and clothing alteration to breathe new life into old clothes. Having worn and collected vintage clothing since the 1970s, my part time passion became my full time occupation in 2004. Prior to that I gravitated from making outfits for myself and my family to friends who spread the word until my customer base formed the start of a business in the 90s.
I established a niche making stage wear for tribute artists and to further my stock purchased a costume hire business which I ran from home! For a couple of years I was visited by partygoers, theatrical players and everything in between. At the same time I was designing outfits for drag queens and bands as well as replicating iconic pop fashion which became my Tribute2 range and included Abba, Elvis, Kylie and Bowie.
As my orders increased, so did my fabric waste. To keep a sustainable ethic I developed a range of recycled and reworked clothing. Unable to maintain the hire side of the business I sold the costumes but kept the vintage stock I’d collected for sale. By the late noughties I had established myself as a vintage dealer and sustainable fashion designer and began showcasing my designs at events across the UK including a yearly stand at Clothes Show Live.
In 2013 business stopped abruptly after a sudden cancer diagnosis. The impact of this was far reaching and I made the decision to close Missfit and sell the majority of my stock. I wouldn’t return to my sewing machine for nearly two years.
My hospital experience highlighted the undignified design of the hospital gown which, strips our identity and, with its gaping opening can show more than we are willing to share. It was this that drew me back to work when I designed a hospital gown that wrapped around. The Coverstory gown became a new venture which is still available. I also discovered yoga and realized that with the addition of abdominal scars I needed leggings that came higher and gave more comfort, I also wanted to add a bit more fun to the designs. A range of activewear then followed in fabulous and funky prints. I was back.
Fast forward and these new ventures have taken a back seat to my original passion, sustainable style. I rebuilt my vintage stock, repairing and re-selling from my website and Etsy shop. As many items don’t survive the decades, these are reworked into new designs into which I also incorporate fabrics from my vast hoard collected since the eighties.
There is still an element of pop fashion running through my business and I am occasionally tempted back to create something sensational for a performer. I no longer take on commission orders for bridal or dancewear but my alternative designs can now be found in the upcycled garments that are created from the vintage stock.
Having survived just about every pitfall that can be thrown at a business, I am back doing what makes me happy, incorporating a sustainable ethic through my lifestyle and business”