Made in Britain: The Road Trip

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Our latest collection explores colour, cashmere and the British wool industry.

When magazines reference fashion capitals of the world, Kinross, Hawick and Delph don’t often top the list. Nevertheless, when we set about creating Sunspel’s autumn/winter 2018 collection, we took to the road and headed north in search of inspiration from some of the world’s oldest and best wool specialists.

Sunspel has its own long history in the British textile industry, reaching back to our beginnings in Nottingham in 1860. Production moved further south in the early 20th century, and from our factory in Long Eaton, we still produce much of the fabric used to create the finest T-shirts in the world. We are James Bond’s favourite T-shirt brand, after all.

‘To be honest,’ says head designer David Telfer, ‘the whole concept of [the road trip] was informed by the fact we have our own specialist factory. We therefore understand the production side and use a similar philosophy when sourcing new factories, we see what they’re best at and collaborate to create something that works for Sunspel.’

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The upcoming season presented an opportunity for us to explore the British wool industry, as colder weather approaches and knitwear comes to the fore. The research trip, which eventually took our design team to a historic cashmere spinner as far north as Kinross in Scotland – started in the Pennines, at 17th-century yarn miller.

‘Our yarn miller sits in this gorgeous, picturesque little village just north of the Peak District, and is something really beautiful to look at,’ says designer Christina Chin. ‘One of the purposes of the trip was to explore colour archives, and we were surprised to find them in the buildings as well as in the records. From the old machinery to the colours of the factory walls, we ended up drawing little bits of inspiration from everything that was around us.’

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Our autumn/winter collection is certainly a testament to British craftsmanship, with colours drawn from the archives of sources as diverse as yarn spinner Todd & Duncan and paper specialist G . F Smith in Hull. And, as a company that’s all about fabric, we were keen for the textiles of the new collection to reflect the local expertise the designers were keen to draw on.

‘It feels nice to take these luxurious British wools, produced by some of the nation’s finest millers and spinners, and make them into beautiful modern pieces like the women’s kilt,’ Telfer enthuses. ‘Working with experts, learning from and embracing their knowledge of cashmere and refining it to create a contemporary, British product is a gratifying process.’

Chin agrees: ‘Meeting the people who are making the garments from all divisions and seeing those products start as yarn then come to full fruition really makes the collection feel more personal,’ she says.

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