Designer, Hello! columnist, podcaster and novelist Tabitha Webb describes herself as a serial entrepreneur. Her eponymous luxury label is known for a playful use of colour and a celebrity following. We take a walk on the bright side.
A certain California boho-style influences Tabitha Webb’s colourful prints. The designer lived in the US until she was 10 and during school holidays from boarding school. She has a beach-blonde look and loves the tie-dye and silks vibe from the Sixties, which marries so well with eclectic British style: “I love that Brits take risks and are trend setters. I just wish we dressed up a little more – we all wear jeans far too much. I’m the most excited person ever about Black and White Tie, but my own signature look is jeans with a silk shirt and trainers”. Saying that, there are few places a smart blouse and jeans won’t take you today, especially if you follow Webb’s maxim to go everywhere with a pair of heels not to mention her advice to be less minimalist when it comes to a holiday wardrobe. “I’m a very ‘what if?’ packer and it would be very rare for a surprise holiday outing that I couldn’t equip myself for”.
The Telegraph calls Tabitha Webb a superglue brand that fixes ‘broken outfits’. Her legion of celebrity followers – think Fearne Cotton, Holly Willoughby and the Duchess of Cambridge – has been an important part of the brand’s growth. Webb admits a celebrity network helps to drive traffic, awareness and sales: “In such a saturated market this is so important.” You can wear a beautifully cut, vibrant Tabitha Webb blouse or impact-making supersoft cashmere sweater and immediately get noticed, whether you’re on the school run, at work, or at a party. Webb is particularly proud of having put the pussy bow firmly into contemporary fashion. “It is our signature shape and I hope is seen as synonymous with the brand”.
Along the way Webb has made endless friendships. Personality-wise she’s effervescent and the opposite of a fashionista with a frown. Collaborations often form from these friendships; for example she’s created a limited edition collection out this summer with wallpaper and fabric design house Barneby Gates. Webb is quite happy to get by with a little help from her friends: “What we do is really tough. It’s unlucrative and unrewarding in so many ways, but the fun is having a creative vision and seeing it come to life”.
There was no eureka moment that saw Webb launch her business. She describes herself as a serial entrepreneur with a million ideas a day. “I started in advertising and couldn’t find the big slouchy handbag of my dreams. I designed one in a striking metallic and it went very big very quickly, with stylists and celebrities. My career has rocketed from place to place ever since.”
Design-wise, Webb loved Jonathan Saunders and treasures a ‘really beautiful woven dress done in incredible peacock green and purple’. But even Saunders’ talent couldn’t keep his label going. “Fashion is a really tough business in today’s changing times – look at Saunders and at recent casualty L.K.Bennett.” Webb employs a different business model to keep overheads low and is working with various collaborators from Uniqlo, Avon and QVC. “It’s survival. Everything has a shelf life and you’ve got to keep moving”.
I ask Webb about the future and get an excited “Oooh!” in return. Her novel No Regrets will be published by Harper Collins in 2020, and she’s behind a podcast called Tabitha Talks during which she speaks to influencers. She’s also doing a series of special Podcasts just for designer outlet Bicester Village. A homewares range launches with QVC in the UK and the States, with a table top line in the Far East.
At the same time as going global, Webb has a personal mission to bring a little colour to life closer to home. “I will always work in print and colour and try and get everyone out of khaki and navy – we all end up looking so uniform in our parkas. Colour lifts your mood. It’s so British to be in dark colours as we wander through the miserable weather. I say we should sprinkle some colour and sparkle among the misery!”.