Annabel Allen Millinery Blog

  • Come behind the scenes with me!
  • Author avatar
    Annabel Hitchen

Come behind the scenes with me!

Discover what goes into creating my hats in a sustainable, ethical and thoughtful way...

British Milliner, Handmade Hats, Sustainable Business, Annabel Allen Millinery

If you've visited my little showroom before, you'll have seen that all of my designs are produced in my home, with my studio space being at the back of the showroom so you can see exactly what goes in to making these hats... what you maybe don't see when looking at all the amazing fabrics, magnificent feathers and in-progress pieces, is the care and attention that goes into making my process as sustainable as possible... this is something that is incredibly important to me and I'd love to share a little of this with you. 

handmade, sustainable fashion UK, Annabel Allen Millinery

I place great importance on sourcing the  materials that I use for making my hats from sustainably and ethically sound suppliers, to keep the impact on the environment as low as possible, whilst providing the highest quality product. 


I use UK suppliers for all my materials, including feathers which I ensure are cruelty free and are either shed naturally or bi-products that would otherwise be wasted. All of the dyes that I use to colour feathers or fabric are non-toxic and eco-friendly. 

ethical feathers, sustainable business UK, british millinery

I use Sinamay in many of my designs because it is so versatile and, woven from the Abaca plant, it is 100% natural and sustainable. My supplier works directly with small co-ops in the Philippines, where it is grown and manufactured, helping the communities and ensuring optimal pay and working conditions. 
I often use Straw Parasisol which is also made using the Abaca plant.  The supplier I use works closely with the very skilled weavers in the Zhejiang Province of South East China.  Over many decades this family run company has formed close links with the teams out there who produce this very high quality material which is then imported to the UK to be turned into millinery masterpieces!
sinamay fabric       parasisol fabric

I use a huge range of other fabrics, all from ethically sound, sustainable sources; whether that's the felts made from 100% Australian sheep wool, my hat blocks which are either hand-carved in Wiltshire (using sustainably sourced wood of course!), or vintage like various other little gems I find to adorn my hats!  Many of you will be aware that I also work closely with the wonderful team at Shibumi, who are very focused on the ethical production of the beautiful silks that I often incorporate in my designs.

When it comes to the making process of my hats, sustainability and longevity is also really important to me. I love creating pieces that can be worn again and again, and that will stand the test of time, both in classic design and in the quality of the make. 

If you own a hat that you loved, but perhaps it's time for something new, then I offer hat recycling service, whether it is a hat I have made previously or not, I am happy to use the materials to create something new. 
Each hat is made to order so there is never surplus stock that goes to waste- hence I don't really run stock sales (perhaps the odd sample sale but rare as I generally hire out all I have!) And every hat is made completely from scratch by me, so I know where every element has come from and that it has been made in a happy place!

Annabel Allen Millinery, blue Mother of the Bride hat

Thank you so much for taking the time to learn about my processes, and the hard work that goes into making sure my business is as sustainable as possible...please do feel free to contact me if you have any questions about this. 
If you'd like to make an appointment to visit my Cotswold studio and start the process of designing your hat please do give me a call on +44 (0) 1453 350 611. Alternatively, if you're unable to visit I am always so happy to discuss ideas on the phone or via email to help you order online.
Please never hesitate to get in touch. 
  • Author avatar
    Annabel Hitchen