Legendary weavers Stephen Walters & Sons collaborated with Central Saint Martins to run a competition for their second year weave students. The task was to create an innovative cloth for AW18, which would then be turned into a jacket created by Turnbull & Asser.
At Turnbull & Asser, we pride ourselves on innovation and nurturing talent, all the while keeping in mind the heritage and history that got us to where we are today. Working with Stephen Walters & Sons, as well as some of the brightest up-and-coming creative talent at Central Saint Martins, was both an honour and privilege.
The students’ brief was to create an innovative menswear jacketing cloth for AW18, inspired by the diverse cultures and location of Spitalfields – the original home of Stephen Walters & Sons – whether historic or contemporary. They were to ensure that their designs were both fit for purpose and desired by their chosen market segment, and demonstrate a consideration of weave structures, fibre selection and post-weave finishing.
After a very difficult judging decision was made, the panel eventually chose Henrietta Johns and Haruna Yamato as the winners of this year’s competition. Having turned their cloths into men’s jackets, we spoke to Miss Johns and Miss Yamato on what the experience was like.
Turnbull & Asser: What inspired your designs?
Henrietta Johns: I chose to concentrate on the Georgian and Victorian eras, as Spitalfields was known for its beautiful architecture. To gain insight on the culture and general atmosphere of the time, I studied films and television sets, such as ‘Oliver!’ and ‘Taboo’. It was then I found my inspiration for this particular textile, as I wanted to capture the common costume feature of ripped tweed jackets with bright white lining poking through, say on an elbow. I did this by using an ikat technique in the warp and weft that created a lightened check pattern, fading in and out amongst the traditional tweed.
Haruna Yamato: I found some distinctive former weavers' houses in Spitalfields, and used its shutter shape for my final outcome. I was exploring the lives of immigrants and saw the shutters from outside. So after, I wove what I saw, using the back side as the front to represent their day-to-day view.
T&A: How did it feel to see your designs get turned into bespoke Turnbull & Asser jackets?
HJ: It was the greatest feeling, a mixture of overwhelming honour and excitement. It is a garment that I will cherish throughout my career, as a reminder of such an amazing experience. Not many people of my age can say they have had a similar one!
HY: I thought it looked amazing and gorgeous. The double breasted silhouette was very suitable for, and enhanced, my fabric.
T&A: As part of the new generation of designers, what excites you about the industry at the moment?
HJ: What excites me, particularly in menswear, is the accelerating interest in the subtle addition of contemporary and ostentatious twists to traditional design. The maintenance of the classic and its marriage to the new. This is something I like to keep in mind when designing myself.
HY: I feel people have started to find problems in mass consumption and think of sustainability, so I'm looking forward to seeing how textiles and the wider fashion industry change in this regard. I hope more people find virtue to keep wearing long lasting good clothes like bespoke suits.
Click for more on Stephen Walters & Sons and Central Saint Martins.