About Emma Burton

I am independent textile and fashion design brand who designs and makes clothes and accessories from exclusive printed fabrics that I design specifically for the collection.  

The textile designs feature my own photography of everyday life.  Inspiration comes from both natural and man made life.  Everything that is printed onto the fabric is a photograph that I have taken.  Once I take the photograph I collage the imagery together on a computer using certain photographs as background images and builds layers with objects on top of the backgrounds.

The designs are then digitally printed onto natural fabrics such as silk and viscose jersey and are made into tops, dresses, scarves and handbags.  The viscose jersey is soft to the touch and very comfortable to wear.  It has a weight to it that gives it a lovely drape.

I take advantage of my experience as a seamstress to make the samples myself and I also have a local outworker to help with production.  Everything is printed and made in the UK.  Quality is of the utmost importance.

Previously the collection has been available to buy in boutiques, museums and art galleries around the world however in order to be more creative we decided to scale down so it is only available to buy direct through our website and at our South of England shopping events

My 2010 collection was launched alongside prestigious fashion designers such as Givenchy, Marc Jacobs and Viktor and Rolf in one of Italy’s most influential fashion stores, Luisa Via Roma, Florence.

I started the collection after completing an MA in mixed media textiles at the Royal College of Art, London in 2001.

My studio is based in Whitstable, Kent.

My Story

I have loved taking photographs of textures, pattern and colour from nature and anything that inspired me since my art foundation course in 1995.  It could be from nature or some kitsch object that I picked up in a charity shop.  I would paste the printed photographs into my sketchbooks in order to inspire my work during my BA Hons Fashion Design degree at Northumbria University at Newcastle.  

In 1999 when I started a Mixed Media Textiles MA at the Royal College of Art in London I felt very lost as I had come from a fashion not a textiles background.  When I discovered the digital textile printing machine however it opened up a whole new world where I could combine my love of photography with textiles and I began to see how I could make sense of being in the world of textiles.

My work at the start was very literal with photographs printed directly onto fabric.  I would then screen print over the top of them with textures and graphic imagery and add a 3D element with beading, fabric manipulation and embroidery in order to break up the original photographic image.  I loved the juxtaposition of the fast digital photographic process combined with more traditional and time consuming hand work.  I would try and source unusual elements to stitch onto my work and would find inspiration in DIY shops where I would buy small objects that I could spray paint and use instead of beads.

For about 6 years after leaving the Royal College of Art I took a break from digital printing as I was unsure where to take it and I instead focused on working for fashion designers, doing some freelance textile work and making a collection of bags using vintage style fabrics that I sold very successfully to high street stores, boutiques and online stores.

When I was looking for ideas on how to move the bag collection forward I looked once again to digital print.  My designs whilst at college weren’t commercial enough to use directly in products so I needed to work out how to create something original whilst making them appeal to a wider audience.  I worked on my Photoshop skills and started to manipulate the imagery in order to make the designs more abstract.  I did a trial run with a printers but the outcome was pretty horrendous apart from one design that I saw potential with as it made me realise that scale was the main issue with the prints.  I started creating bigger and bolder prints and I have never looked back.


Past commissions

As well as creating the exclusive prints for her own collection I also take on commissions to design for others.  The photographic nature of my work lends itself particularly well to outside projects.

In the past I have been commissioned by Venice Simplon Orient Express to create a range of bespoke scarves, handbags and purses to sell on their trains.  The designs are taken directly from photographs of the incredible interiors of the individually designed carriages.

For the Museum of London I created a collection of tops, scarves, handbags, purses and cushions to sell during their most popular exhibition to date, The Cheapside Hoard exhibition.  The designs were created using photographs of the incredible 16th and 17th century jewellery that was found under floorboards at a house in Cheapside, London in 1912.

Marquetry silk scarf from the collection designed for Venice Simplon Orient Express trains.

Marquetry silk scarf from the collection designed for Venice Simplon Orient Express trains.

Bee handbag from the collection designed for The Museum of London's Cheapside Hoard jewellery exhibition

Bee handbag from the collection designed for The Museum of London's Cheapside Hoard jewellery exhibition