The archives in old factories are time machines. Walk into one and you’re transported straight back to another era. It’s partly the dusty smell, partly the vintage fonts and handwritten pencil notes. Partly the meticulous care taken to preserve a physical record of the past.
For our new Autumn Winter 2018 collection our design team were inspired by a road trip that took us to some of Britain’s most skilled specialist manufacturers – long established businesses that still employ time-honoured techniques. We drove north in search of traditional English woollen mills, luxurious Scottish lambswool and cashmere manufacturers – and ideas for a rich autumnal colour palette.
It was in the archive of one particular manufacturer that we uncovered the depth of colour inspiration we were seeking.
A colour scheme, decades in the making…
G . F Smith are one of the world’s leading paper makers. They’ve been handling paper for over 130 years, they know everything there is to know about it, and they have an unrivalled archive at their headquarters in Hull. And they opened the door to our design team.
This treasure trove contains over a century’s worth of lovingly preserved paper swatchbooks stretching back to 1909, many of them decorated with intricate illustrations and notes laid out in refined typography. These books are overflowing with exquisite colours. Some are delicate, subtly aged by the years into dusty tones; others remain a blast of unfaded colour.
It was the papers from 1937 to 1939 that provided the most direct inspiration for our collection’s colour palette. Here we discovered cool tones of blue and a subtle tea green, boldly sitting alongside strong autumnal shades such as terracotta and claret. Although the tones initially appear contrasting, in the hands of masters like G . F Smith the precise colour selection achieves a delicate balance and coherence.
Sunspel x G . F Smith: An Exclusive Collection
So timeless were several of these colours that we’ve taken them directly from the G . F Smith pages and meticulously colour-matched them onto our seasonal fabrics. We’ve even named them after their original tones: No 37 Blue, Tea Green, Terracotta, Claret, Blue Lavender.
This spectrum forms the perfect balance between high summer and the impending seasonal shift, and makes our new collection an ideal addition to any wardrobe that spans the seasons.
As so often, it turns out that ideas from the past point a way to the future.