On Friday I got to listen to a inspiring talk given by Jane Chadwick, half of the duo behind British knitwear design brand Quinton Chadwick. It was really inspiring and helpful/assuring to hear about the process and methodologies used in making a knitwear collection year to year as well as the place/ relevance of a knitwear brand in today's market.
Quinton Chadwick is a high end brand based in London that prides itself on all its products being produced in the UK. The brand only creates collections and sells items for the winter season only. They use traditional British knitwear patterns and play with them to make them fresh and relevant with bright colours. Something they pride themselves being a part of the "slow living" and "slow fashion" movement as an important value to the brand. Jane Chadwick discussed that creating accessories allows them to create something accessible for customers to freshen up/accessorize their current wardrobe. Being part of the "slow fashion" movement they strive to create high quality products that customers know and take provenance in where the item is made, it this case in factories in Scotland.
Getting to see a little behind the scenes and timeline of the process from inspiration source to final product and lastly marketing/selling was eye opening. The design process of a collection takes 2-3 months. During this period mood boards are created for 4 distinct colourways (every Quinton Chadwick consists of 4 coloursways). These boards consist of photos from their own collections (that have been organized by colour or shapes), yarn wrappings and photos from fashion trends. Using photos from fashion trends was note worthy because it gave the brand ideas for trims and striping in their pattern designing but what customers might be looking for and surrounded by when the item is available in stores. It also gives ideas for details to include in a design, for example the neckline styling of a fashion top could be reinterpreted as trimming for a hat or scarf.
In the design process, Jane Chadwick stressed being clever! When faced with a limited colour palette for the yarn they use, the brand mixes two available colours together to trick the eye (optically mixing/ blending colours) to create the desired colour. Also pay attention to details- like trims! Sometimes the looking at the inside or wrong side of a sample/fabric could produce new ideas...
Amidst the design process is thinking about range planning- how many scarves, mittens, and gloves should each colourway have?
Once the designs have been finalized and off to production, its on to merchandising and marketing. Quinton Chadwick present their items as a collection, showcasing images of how the items go together- a scarf with gloves and maybe a coordinating beret. It gives an idea to retailers and customers how they can wear the items. Since their products are only for the winter season, a large portion of the marketing includes trying to get featured in Christmas/Holiday gift guides. The brand chooses to market their items in a very clean grid photo format with details about the items as well as creating two different categories ( under 50£ and under 100£) to send to the press. Most of the photos are shot on bright white lit backdrop such that they are easy to cut out and place into different formats for press usage.
When marketing their products using social media (Instagram is their preferred one) they choose a colourway from the collection to give focus to for 2-3 week period. All the instagram posts in that period will reflect the look and feel/mood of the colourway. This method is also applied to their website. The main page banner image will showcase the colourway given focus at the time. They like Instagram because it is visual but it also allows they to curate "their story" giving customers a peek inside the process, inspiration and products. This presentation of a story gives potential clients the feeling of finding something special. They have had several people and retailers contact them through Instagram for sales.
Overall, I left feeling like it was possible to be a knitwear designer in toady's world and do alright. That people care about well crafted products and where they are made. It was refreshing to see a brand that has done well and has helped push and revitalize local factories as well as help small independent retailers/stores. Quinton Chadwick are part of the Slow Living Market in Orford, Suffolk to sell their products amongst other like minded skilled designer-makers. They have found a balance to producing to sell to large companies and small independent shops, selling with in the UK and abroad with out becoming too large and overwhelmed as well as not losing touch with their passion, values, and clientele.
Images from Quinton Chadwick Instagram feed
Quinton, Jess. and Chadwick, Jane. (2017) Quinton Chadwick. Available at:
(Accessed 5 November 2017).