Q&A with Lyle & Scott
Campaign for Wool were lucky enough to grab five minutes with the design team at British menswear retailers Lyle and Scott, ahead of Wool Week to discuss how the brand uses wool. To celebrate their 140th anniversary, Lyle & Scott have launched a ‘Made in Britain’ capsule collection. The collection aims to showcase the brand’s Scottish heritage and fine craftsmanship and is the final time when the ‘L&S ltd’ will feature on the brands clothing. Made from 100% lambswool and with the HRH Royal Warrant proudly applied, the 140th anniversary collection is a clear indicator of the brand’s success to date. As loyal supporters of the Campaign for Wool, the design team at Lyle and Scott told us about their progression as a brand and how wool has become and integral part of their business.
Please tell us a little about yourselves and how your business utilises wool?
Founded in 1874, Lyle & Scott’s heritage lies in knitted woollen undergarments so we have 140 years of woollen expertise!
Back then we were working with British wool, spinning and knitting the fibres all under one roof. In 1926 we progressed into the realms of fashion, applying the same accomplished woollen skills to knitted outerwear. To this day knitwear is a major part of all our collections from fashion through to golf. We still use 100% lambswool from the same British spinner that we have been using since the late 1950’s. This provenance in British yarn is unique and these jumpers which are produced in Scotland have a certain honest hand feel and aesthetic that is part of the Lyle & Scott DNA.
Since you’ve been involved with wool, how have you seen the wool industry change?
The yarn industry is in constant flux due to globalisation, of course you are always going to get cheaper blends and different qualities of yarns. A true knitter knows that even if a yarn says it’s the same composition, different levels of quality exist depending on which part of the fleece you are using. For us it’s about maintaining the quality of the noble fibres we use whilst keeping up to date on new advances in technologies within the manufacturing of yarns. Spinners with real heritage are keen as ever to tell their story which for us is great. Communicating this information to our customers for us is paramount, whether that be using the manufacturers own swing tags or the use of the Woolmark logo to show people that we are working with socially responsible producers.
How do you source your wool?
Both the Vintage design team and the Sports design team attend the twice yearly yarn trade fairs, Pitti Filati and Spin Expo. Some of the worlds best yarn producers are here showcasing their latest developments and it provides a great opportunity to see the direction of trends in yarns.
What does the Campaign for Wool mean to you?
It’s always great to see the industry you work in being supported by a global platform. The Campaign for Wool’s passion for wool, it’s history and innovation is superb and the education of such a great natural fibre from designer to the end consumer is something which I am proud to be a part of. Lyle & Scott know the importance of supporting emerging young talents which is fantastic. Since being involved with the campaign, we have mentored students from Central Saint Martin’s and have since employed our AW13 winner Kate Annis!
The fashion landscape is always changing, what does 2014/15 hold for you?
The Sports team have been working non-stop since May developing our existing Golf range so 2014/15 is a hugely exciting time for us when we will see all of our hard work coming to fruition. Lyle & Scott have historically been at the forefront of golfing innovation, their gore-lined windproof and shower-proof lambswool products of the late 80’s being just one example! We are picking up from there and moving the collection into the modern golfing world.
Fabric technologies, particularly those using wool have advanced so rapidly over the last few years, has this affected your trade and work?
For AW14/15 it absolutely has, the technical fabrics we are using for our knitwear are engineered from the yarn up; meaning that performance qualities are built in. We are using 100% merino Teflon coated yarns, along with Coolmax blends that are both fantastic as part of our insulation layering system. Not to mention our classic styles in 100% merino; the truest performance yarn!
How does using woollen cloths differ to other man-made materials?
It really depends on what it is you want from your product, man-made materials are obviously great as well, there are many reason for using particular fabrics – aesthetic, performance, etc. Wool however is naturally a high performance, sustainable and renewable fibre. It’s natural properties seem almost limitless with its breathable nature and ability to wick moisture. It’s easy care and anti microbial qualities are so fascinating it is no surprise that merino came out on top when we were discussing potential fabrics for a future base layer range, with a history in seamless manufacturing techniques, it would be a true nod to our heritage of knitted underwear. Watch this space!
What demand have you seen from your customers with regards to favouring wool over synthetic fibres?
Our second biggest market is Sweden and they love our use of 100% natural fibres. They really understand the provenance of manufacturing and using true, honest yarns.
Please tell us a little more about a piece in your collection?
This piece is actually from our 1960 Collection, named after the decade when Lyle & Scott first entered into the golf market and when the Golden Eagle first appeared. That significant move for the brand has today inspired the birth of the British made 1960 Collection, which celebrates the decade and its iconic styles. The knitwear designs feature a dropped saddle shoulder construction, drawn from the archive and integral to the earlier designs. The Royal Warrant is applied to each of the 15 lambswool knitwear pieces along with the original 1960 labels. This attention to detail continues right down to the choice of yarn spinner, Hinchcliffe who worked with Lyle and Scott in 1963 and advised on the same colour recipes for this modern day collection.
Are there any plans to introduce more British wool in to your collection?
We will always offer our 100% lambswool product, made using British wool and updated with seasonal colour ways. Our woollen spun lambswool yarn has a certain aesthetic and hand feel that is associated with Lyle & Scott, it’s part of our DNA.
With the versatility of the fabric in mind, are there any plans to introduce a SS15 wool piece?
We will absolutely be using 100% merino in our SS16 golf collection. This wool really is natures performance fabric; with such great adaptability and natural built in temperature control it presents itself as a trans-seasonal yarn so you can expect to see a lot more throughout the year!
To find out more about Lyle and Scott and their 140th anniversary visit http://www.lyleandscott.com/