The Alliance of Theatrical Seamsters (ALOFTS) will bring a much-needed income to the many self-employed seamsters. We talk to co-founder, Hannah Kinkade to find out more about it.
1) Can you tell us about Alliance of Theatrical Seamsters (ALOFTS) is and how it came about?
We started ALOFTS as a way to help financially support self-employed theatrical seamsters, who were unable to continue working during the current pandemic. ALOFTS commissions self-employed seamsters and costume makers to construct beautiful, theatrically themed items with our custom printed fabrics. We wanted to approach the project using the same processes we would when designing for a show, and people can read about that process on our website at alofts.co.uk
ALOFTS was an idea that myself and Mike, my business partner at Go For Wardrobe, had during lockdown. We knew that coming out of lockdown would be turbulent for everybody within the live entertainment industry, but could see that the self-employed were going to be left behind with them not being eligible for the furlough scheme. We really wanted to be able to support some of these people, in the only way we know how – making fabric things! We asked the seamsters and costume makers we work with at Go For Wardrobe who would be interested in the project, and were blown away by the positivity for the idea, which carries through into our social media followings.
2) Tell us a bit more about Go For Wardrobe?
At Go For Wardrobe, we provide theatres, touring shows and music concerts with costume and wardrobe department staff for their shows. For theatres, they may have a one-off show and they need a seamster to come and do a few alterations for a visiting show. For tours, we work with the shows production teams to ensure they have the correct amount of seamsters, wardrobe and costume staff for their productions at each tour venue they tour to.
3) What can we buy at ALOFTS.co.uk?
We launched in September with a range of tote and zip bags. The tote bags feature our custom prints on one side with a quote about theatre on the other. The zip bags match the prints from our tote bags. We are currently in the process of making a whole new range of items, some Christmas themed and some not, so it’s well worth following us on social media (Instagram, Twitter and Facebook) to see what’s coming next!
4) Tell us more about the fabric designs used?
Our fabric designs all take inspiration from the theatre. We have the ‘Footlights’, a scalloped print inspired by the traditional shell-shaped footlights which lined the front edge of the stage in the mid-19th century, and the graphic shapes of Art Deco era.
Our “Matcham” print is an ornate floral print inspired by renowned British architect Frank Matcham, who was famed for his opulent decoration, with beautiful painted ceilings and decorative plaster work across his building designs. The ‘Fans’ design is inspired by Oscar Wilde, who had his first hit on the London stage with Lady Windermere’s Fan in 1892. Our “Fans” tote bags also feature an Oscar Wilde quote on the reverse side. Finally, “Feathers” was inspired by the glorious glamour of the Ziegfeld Follies. In 1919, Ziegfeld girl Dolores dazzled audiences as ‘The White Peacock’, taking to the stage in an enormous and glorious halo of plumage!
See behind the scenes of the bag making:
5) What are you most looking forward to once all theatres are able to reopen and run as they did before the pandemic?
We are looking forward to getting back to doing shows again, and hopefully going to watch a few shows too! I think the thing I’m probably looking forward to the most is the relief of seeing my friends being able to to get back to working again. As everybody who works in our industry will tell you, it’s not just a job. We live theatre. It’s our life. Where we meet our partners, our friends. The pain that I see my friends in at the moment, not being able to do what they love, is absolutely heartbreaking. The thing I miss the most is probably that electricity of opening night, that adrenaline you get as the curtain goes up. There really is nothing like working in live entertainment.
Support self-employed theatrical seamsters now by buying from alofts.co.uk. It really is a perfect Christmas gift.
Plus, enter our prize draw before midnight on 16 November to win a John Steinbeck quote tote bag.