firm fits out Harry Potter and friends
by DAVID GROCOTT
the world famous wizard Harry Potter pulls off his Hogwart's
school jumper, he sees a label inside marked with a Colchester
The boy wizard at the centre of the greatest publishing
phenomenon known to man, and now the subject of his own
record-breaking film, had his screen school uniform made
in no less a magical setting than Telford Way on the Severalls
Or, to be slightly more accurate, movie giants Warner
Brothers had the uniform, and dozens more like it, put
together by Wren Schoolwear of Colchester.
Eager to do a good job, the company made sure labels with
full contact details were sewn into every school jumper
seen on set, and Harry, played by Daniel Radcliffe, must
have seen Wren's number.
The small firm, more used to kitting out muggle pupils
of public schools such as Roedean, is now feeling very
pleased with itself.
It has, after all, made a small, but significant, contribution
to one of the most successful movies of all time.
From his very un-Hollywood desk in the firm's small factory,
managing director Keith Farrer admits that a week after
Harry Potter went on general release at the cinema, the
whole thing is now really quite magical.
"We have just watched this get bigger and bigger,
and now it has come out the film is just huge, it is very
exciting," he said.
But Mr Farrer dispels some magical myths about the world
of Hogwarts, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Griffindor and even
the insidious Slytherin.
POTTER WEAR - Wren Schoolwear
boss Keith Farrer, above, shows the tie worn by Harry
Potter and friends in the film, right. Picture above:
STEVE BAINBRIDGE (18431-1)
sorcerer's guide to dressing your
Wool mix jumper.
'They needed to be distressed,"
Mr Farrer said, "to give the
right look." Coloured piping
added to collar depending on house
colours, gold and claret for Griffindor.
2: Polyester / viscose trouser/skirts."
They wanted them the same material
they would look like the same grey,"
Mr Farrer said.
3: Badges to denote which
house child is placed in by the
sorting hat. "They provided
the patterns and we had them made
specially," said Mr Farrer.
was nothing too special about the uniform."
"That, Mr Farrer said, pointing to a picture
of Harry's nemesis Draco Malfoy," "is
not a special tie - that is just a green and
grey tie we sent them."
"It is the same for the others, they are
just ties in the colours they wanted."
Wren did make some of the items, such as the
skirts, but a lot of the goods for the school
uniforms were "off the peg".
Other more complex items such as the school
house badges were designed by the film production
company and sub-contracted out by Wren.
But some of the American production crew's requirements
were easier to meet.
"They wanted some prefect badges and team
captain badges, so we sent them a full list
of all the ones available to any school and
they absolutely loved those - they had loads
of them," Mr Farrer said.
Now as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
smashes every box office record, Wren are still
providing some costumes for the next film in
the series. "We provided every costume
made to measure for the
film by the end of last year."
"They should still have most of them, so
we are just making more for the second one in
bits and bobs as they need them."
"Security is very tight - they always send
a courier to collect the clothes."
The HP contract has also had spin-offs. "We
have been contacted by 20th Century Fox and
a couple of other film companies, and that must
have come from Harry Potter."
"We are a local company doing very well."
And all from very small beginnings because Wren
were contacted for the Harry Potter contract,
which is worth a magical £70,000, completely
out of the blue.
Company secretary Sue Brown said: "They
phoned up at the start of last year and I was
really excited. It was not until they sent the
fax over that we really believed them."
"And he," she motioned at her boss,
"hadn't even heard of Harry Potter."
After a fair bit of laughing, he was quick to
add: "I have now".