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Bermondsey Street designer shows fashion can flourish in tough times

When the recession forced fashion designer Amanda Thompson to close her wholesale fashion business, she looked like yet another casualty of the credit crunch. Instead she has made the move from wholesaler to retailer and has seen her business prosper.

Pussy Willow
Pussy Willow

Amanda opened her Pussy Willow boutique in Bermondsey Street in October 2008 at a time when many of her former stockists were shutting up shop.

"I just thought 'This is it. I've just got to go for it'," said Amanda. "So I just threw myself in and fought tooth and nail to raise the money to take on the shop."

Originally a ready-to-wear range, Amanda saw a gap in the market for individually tailored pieces and her made-to-measure concept was born.

Customer Jackie Collins from Islington said: "You have the opportunity to see new shapes and designs be created right in front of you. The process of selecting the fabric, altering the design and fittings is a lot of fun and ensures each piece is flattering."

Word of mouth is spreading and Pussy Willow has even captured the eye of fashion bible Vogue, who featured a delicate chiffon blouse from the current collection in their February issue.

The boutique has been a welcome addition to the area. Local resident Penny Watson said: "The area has always been well-connected with fashion but Pussy Willow provides a very good excuse to go shopping."

The spring/ summer collection will be launched with a fashion show in the store at the beginning of April. "Last season we had over 200 people at three shows," said Amanda. "So this season we thought we'd do four shows as there are so many people on our mailing list. It's very intimate, like an old-school couture house but in a new way."

As Amanda is proving, fashion is definitely not one size fits all.

• Prices start from 220; Pussy Willow is located at 90 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3UB.

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