“If the clothing could speak, what would it say to you?”
Stumbling across the amazing Small Forest Shop, we couldn’t help but feel a little overwhelmed by all the memories and emotions that each piece of their clothing evokes. They stir feelings of being cosy on wintery days, picnics in the park and conjure memories of cups of tea at Nana’s house.
This bizarre sensation of how an item of clothing could have such an effect, make you feel this unexpected sense of security and attachment, had us intrigued. We had to catch up with Wendy Hill, the creator of these incredible pieces, to learn how her welcoming and nostalgic clothing comes to life.
Situated in the immensely picturesque hills of Woolamai along the Bass Coast, The Small Forest magic happens in the home studio of their beautiful old farmhouse.
Wendy’s humble beginnings were at the kitchen table, being taught to sew under the expert eye of her mum. Wendy’s passion has always been around purchasing discarded clothing and reworking them to suit certain shapes and styles—giving the older items new life.
What originally started off as a daily blog, an online space for Wendy to share her creations with creative friends from afar, grew into the Small Forest Shop as we know it today. Wendy discovered her niche market when she began her first label, Little Tree Kids, that germinated from sewing kids clothing and quilts for her own four small people and realising that there wasn’t much available for people that prefer fabrics from 100% natural fibres.
The focus of Small Forest was to continue to use natural fibre-based vintage cloth. The fabrics are sourced as locally as possible and are carefully hand-selected with an unwritten criteria in mind. Wendy goes by feel and intuition; the fabrics must resonate with her. Wendy designs and produces her own patterns, and works with vintage linen, cotton, wool, lace and embroidery. Her clothing is recognisable thanks to this seamstress’s folky peasant shapes that flatter and fall about the female form without restrictions. The designs are based around being only fitted at one place on the body, whether it be the bust, waist, shoulder or wrist.
Asking Wendy about the emotional connections stirred by her pieces, even if this reaction is somewhat unintended, she explained that, “I am happy that my clothing holds that kind of intangible history. The range of woollens, made from old blankets certainly do [prompt a connection] to people the most.”
There is certainly no denying that the sustainability element of Small Forest clothing is an added bonus! Wendy prides herself on giving things a second or even third life. Shipping her pieces to the distant reaches of the globe, Wendy is humbled by the warm embrace from people both near and far.
Along with a wish for more green floral fabrics in the world, the dream of Small Forest is to one day stock a little shop in France and Italy. Small Forest will soon open the doors to their most beautiful store yet, which is to be situated in the heart of Loch Village alongside their dear friends, Udder and Hoe.
The other half of the Small Forest team is Brendan, Wendy’s husband, who is an artist and sculptor, so you can be sure you’re in for a treat when checking out their new store.