Today we had an industry talk with Jess Quinton part of knitwear based design duo ‘Quinton & Chadwick’. ‘Designed in Britain, made in Britain worn worldwide’, their design ethos is traditional, modern quirky knitwear for men, women and children.
Since their launch nearly 15 years ago-their logo has been the one thing about them that has remained the same, which they feel sets them apart from others therefore creating a strong brand identity. Priding themselves to be part of the growing ‘slow fashion’ movement, their USP is that, all their manufacturing work is not done off shore but instead taps into heritage yarn spinning factory’s based around England and Scotland. Currently their collections of knitwear-based accessories are a one-season product for menswear, womenswear and a small line of mittens for their most recent kidswear collection. It was my first time being introduced to and hearing about a business module that is based on wholesale trade but only works according to one season. Usually the fashion season cycle consists of Spring Summer, (Resort), and Autumn Winter, however Jess explained the cycle of the product from initial ideas, design, manufacturing and right through to their stockists both local and around the globe.
Their unique and quirky product got me thinking deeply about market research and the attitude brands have towards their consumers. Quinton & Chadwick’s accessories are made to ‘love and keep’ and that is reflected in the design and craftsmanship which takes traditional techniques and breathes new life into simple products like scarf’s and berets. They understand the value that their customer places within the ‘heritage’ branding and allows them to trade on a global scale reaching out to people all over that adore the quintessential British lifestyle. Fortnum & Mason, Liberty’s, Anthropologie, Baycrews and Tomorrowland are just a few of their national and international stockists. Collaboration is something that cannot be separated from creativity and creative processes. This is very evident with both Jess and Jane. Originally tutored in fashion and textile design, Quinton & Chadwick have used their skills to work with a few brands and schemes from Dashing Tweed to ‘wool week’ initiative, they also created a collection for the Victoria and Albert Museum shop- one of London’s most revered and popular museums.
The biggest things that I learned from this seminar were that if you work out and think smart about what you want and would like to do from a creative perspective, it becomes much easier to work out a business model in order to start and stabilise your brand-which in turn helps you to identify your market and to see if your customer really ‘is’ out there and/or not being serviced by somebody else/another company. Being Made in Britain is possible. Yes it is true that the higher the quality of the product, craftsmanship etc does make the end retail price to be considered in the ‘luxury’ market. However when I look at the price range of their product: £35-£110, it is not ‘that’ expensive when you think of the work that goes into that particular product-and the sense of pride knowing that you have put something back into your country’s economy is like a badge of honour for the conscious fashion consumer. However I do think it’s highly variable product to product.
Finally like with all things creative, it’s important to be a sponge and soak up all the information available and applicable to you. Starting a business can be daunting and a true learning curve-but research everything from competitions to government backed funding and even local communities that have small fares or textile/knitting groups/circles. All these things will help you to start and to maintain that which you have set out to do. I really look forward to attending more industry related talks and seminars.