Cecile is proud to be a born and bred Londoner. Raised in a working class Jamaican family, frugality was key to life. Her single mother, who was trained as a seamstress and teacher in Jamaica, found she that she was only able to find employment in low-skilled jobs. Nevertheless, sewing dresses for her only daughter and teaching her to knit, she passed her skills on.
Cecile was the first in her family to gain a degree, and although asked to stay on to undertake a masters, she declined. As the only black student on her course, university life was difficult. She returned to the familiarity of London and began to build the brand.
The south Londoner launched the Cecile Jeffrey label in 1982 from a stall in Camden Market, knitting the stock during the week, selling on a Sunday then eventually opening a shop. Cecile then approached stores in London; the first order was placed by Brown’s Menswear. Wholesaling through agents and trade shows in London and New York, the brand grew, successfully selling to stores and boutiques in the UK, USA, Japan, Germany, Canada and Australia. Stockists included Liberty, Graham and Green, Neiman Marcus, Betsey Bunky Nini (loved that name) Tanglewool and many more.
The label took part in London Fashion Week, New York Pret, British Knitwear in New York, the Coterie and Train.
History of trading
Raising three children, Cecile faced the challenges all women confront when combining family life with running a business. However, in 2010, due to the injuries sustained in a car accident by one of her children, family life was prioritised, the business was put on hold. Now that family life is less overwhelming, Cecile and her daughters - who, rather conveniently, studied womenswear and fashion promotion - felt it was time to come together to re-introduce the brand.
“We’ve always been around mum; giving our opinions on design (whether she wanted it or not), helping out at trade shows, illustrating and just pinching pieces off the rack as well as out of her wardrobe!
“Cecile Jeffrey is such a part of our make up that there was never any way we weren’t going to take up the mantle.
“Now that we have both graduated and family life has levelled out a bit, it’s time to band together and really get Cecile Jeffrey out there, to get more people believing in the brand as much as we do, along with the loyal customers who come back to us again and again.”
“Through our determination to champion slow fashion, using high quality natural fibres to produce timeless designs, we know that our garments appeal across the generations. Many loyal customers share that their children commandeer their Cecile Jeffrey pieces, garments that have been worn for over 20 years.
“We know the rest of the world will love our work as much as we do, it’s time to re-introduce the brand to the world.”
With the combination of vast experience, fresh eyes and new technology, the brand are able to present, not just stylish and high quality knitted clothing, but sustainable fashion too — all manufactured and hand finished in the UK.