Total Look Cashmere
Johnstons of Elgin's new Creative Director Alan Scott comes to the store with bales of cashmere to introduce his new collection.
Under the creative direction of the aptly named Alan Scott, the 220-year-old Scottish cashmere brand Johnstons of Elgin is undergoing an exciting renaissance. Innovation runs through the autumn/winter 2017 collection, from newly developed technical jacquards and patterns to a seamless whole-garment jacket. Mining from two centuries of craftsmanship and history, the collection is a considered remix of past, present and future.
Alan Scott and Andreas Murkudis met late last year and struck an immediate kinship. “We both share a love for curated, understated luxury that showcases unique craftsmanship and tells a story,” says Alan. “Products become works of art with a history and meaning, and through appreciation and respect can influence creative culture.”
At the store, the a/w17 collection is presented as part of a supremely tactile installation including hessian bales of raw cashmere from China, Mongolia and Afghanistan, as well as inspiration sketches and an outfit specially styled by Andreas Murkudis. Here, Scott shares his thoughts about the collaboration:
What especially excited you about the installation?
The most exciting thing about the installation was to see the Johnstons of Elgin brand showcased as a complete collection package, in one of the most beautiful stores in the world. It was the first time this has happened for Johnstons and it was a milestone in our new journey. This was an opportunity to change the perception of the brand from accessories and knitwear into a total-look luxury collection.
Can you tell us a bit about the raw cashmere in the installation?
The raw cashmere tells our unique vertical manufacturing story. The fibre is sourced directly from herdsmen who harvest it from cashmere goats in China, Mongolia and Afghanistan. From combing the underbelly of the goats, you get about 250 grams of fibre. Johnstons produces several hundred tonnes per year. The fibre remains the original colour of the animal without dyes or chemicals, and is processed in our mill in Elgin. There, it is washed, carded, spun and woven into luxurious textiles. The hand-feel is much softer than normal cashmere and it’s this that makes Johnstons different.
What can you tell us about the outfit on display and how it’s styled?
The outfit on display uses cutting-edge technology. The jacket is knitted on a Japanese Shima Seiki machine in Hawick in Scotland. It’s a seamless whole-garment tailored knit jacket — the first time this technology is presented in this type of garment in the market, a really unique piece of engineering. The sweater is a 3/80 count cashmere stretch seamless whole-garment roll-neck. The technology to produce cashmere this fine and in stretch is a first for our company and is the perfect modern underpinning. The trousers are made in Italy using our cashmere and wool blend cloth woven in Elgin. The outfit exemplifies our new direction, using historic sources and inspiration but also cutting-edge innovation in production to create a total look.
Johnstons of Elgin has an incredibly rich and storied past. What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned about the brand since becoming creative director? And what are your plans going forward?
The company is 220 years old this year. The detailed history and the archives are an endless source of inspiration, and the future of the brand is limitless, which is creatively very rare and needs to be protected. My plans are to slowly unlock the full potential and to place the brand as a flagship luxury vertical manufacturer in the UK, but always respecting the history of the brand and the family owners.
"We both share a love for curated, understated luxury that showcases unique craftsmanship and tells a story."