Emma Brewin

The Philanthropist

Light, frothy, lemon, and pistachio- a summer treat for the palate. Emma Brewin’s latest collection seduces us into environmental activism with the sweetness of gelato and details reminiscent of our childhoods. The designer aims to make coexistence possible, all while making her clients feel sexy in everything that they wear. In addition to her latest, ethereal designs that benefit The Bumblebee Conservation Trust, one can also find Brewin’s work on the shoulders of some feminist power houses, as well as some quirky pieces celebrating femininity and womanhood.

As hopefully many people are aware, bumblebees have recently been added to the endangered species list, thus threatening not only their own existence, but also our way of life. A percentage of Brewin’s latest collection, titled “Be kind to all that lives,” will go to The Bumblebee Conservation Trust to help save the creatures. Brewin explains that the foundation “creates natural habitats, teaches and gives advice to land managers, farmers, local communities, and schools to enhance biodiversity for the benefit of bumblebees and other wild pollinators.” While many successful, well-known designers contribute to and participate in different philanthropic causes, it is unusual to hear of a young, up-and-coming designer so outwardly active in a cause. “The destruction of the wild and all that lives in it is a fear that overcomes my existence,” confesses the designer. “And I guess I project that emotion into everything I do. I’m very lucky to be in a position whereby I can raise awareness and money for what I care about and what I believe in.”

“Be kind to all that lives” is a vintage-inspired dream, yet it is a refreshing step away from the trends that harken to the past, both near and far. Brewin is known for her luxurious, candy-colored faux fur coats, and this collection features that luxe element, as well. Faux fur hats sit atop faux fur capes and sweatshirts, and chiffon blouses and fitted trousers add a layer of subtle sex appeal – and all in a nostalgic shade of pistachio. Hidden in the folds and corners of fabric are discreetly placed but carefully calculated, embroidered bumblebees. Brewin says they explored both traditional and modern embroidery techniques, and credits her apprentice, Daisy, with teaching her the french knot, which was eventually the knot they ended up using for the bumblebees. “I fell in love with it. It’s an intricate and beautiful technique.” And, as you’d expect, the hand-embroidery is not a fast feat. Confirms Brewin: “Each bee takes a day to produce and is made up of hundreds of tiny knots.”

Though Brewin can’t quite put a finger on who her ideal clientele would be, her pieces have bedecked the hides of some very influential celebs. Almost a year ago, Lena Dunham, the star and writer of HBO hit series, Girls, graced the cover of Paper Magazine, and accessorizing her fabulous, Marilyn Monroe inspired ensemble was a cotton candy-pink, faux fur shawl from Emma Brewin. “Lena is a wonderful spirit,” professes Brewin. “I have admired her for a long time and dressing her was an absolute dream come true.” Upon browsing Brewin’s website and Instagram, it is easy to see that the two women share many common beliefs. Amongst the expected products- fur coats galore- there is also a fur lined, pink silk “Oyster Cup Keyring” available for purchase, which simulates the vagina, with a little pearl accent.

With a perspective and mission as unique and clear as Brewin’s, it seemed only appropriate to ask for advice for other budding designers and artists. “Give yourself time to be inspired and when you feel inspired give yourself time to produce. Enjoy your life, embrace everything that surrounds you and enjoy your craft. There’s no need to conform to anything that forces creativity, choose well, make less, create timeless quality pieces and don’t look for shortcuts.” Inspirational poster in the makings.

So, what can we expect from the philanthropic designer in the future? Not shockingly, more charitable endeavors line her horizon. “I have a long list of animals that I want to help with this project, most of which are on the WWF endangered and critically endangered lists. We have to learn to coexist with animals and give them the space and freedom they deserve – they were here long before we were.” That, and saving the world, of course.

Text by Leah Tassinari