Business of fashion

Factory visit: Elgin calling

 Johnstons of Elgin Factory

When a brand invites you to visit their factory, it’s a sign they’re proud of their craft and story. And one of the biggest perks of being a fashion writer and blogger, is having that access. Not just getting down to the nitty gritty of how things are made, but understanding the real history of the brand and the provenance of its products. Hence my delight at getting the chance to head up to the Johnstons Of Elgin factory and design studios near Aberdeen one September morning, where the 218-year-old Scottish brand produces woven fabrics and scarves for its own line as well as an impressive roster of luxury brands.

A 7am Heathrow call time was followed by a swift BA flight to Aberdeen, where we were met by the sprightly George, who ferried us along scenic roads of lush Scottish landscape. Despite being braced for freezing gales and gloomy skies, we arrived at the picturesque Johnstons of Elgin HQ in a blaze of autumn sunshine and brilliant cobalt sky.

 Johnstons of Elgin Factory

While Johnstons of Elgin’s coveted cashmere knitwear is made in Hawick in the Scottish borders, the Elgin factory is reserved for wovens. From here it supplies Savile Row tailors with their suiting cloth and the world’s best luxury brands with shawls and scarves, including one famous for its monogrammed check ponchos and another for its equestrian motif blankets. (more…)

Muji – the regeneration

Muji New York Flagship on 5th Avenue

Before Uniqlo there was Muji, an emporium of well-made Japanese utilitarian basics where I religiously stocked up on winter camisoles (until they tweaked the ones I loves and I defected to HeatTech). Over the years Muji’s clothing offer has been sidelined by the might of Uniqlo, but it’s fighting back with its New York super store. (more…)

THE DRG STYLE INDEX: TIFFANY X DOVER STREET MARKET, SEPHORA, JAEGER, SMYTHSON, FENDI

Here’s the latest weekly DRG STYLE INDEX ranking, a round-up of the brands currently buzzing on my radar…


1. WANNA BUY A TIFFANY PARTY HAT?

Tiffany X Dover Street Market
Who knew that Rei Kawakubo was such a big Tiffany fan? According to her husband (and Comme des Garcons CEO) Adrian Joffe, she always drags him into a Tiffany store if they’re passing by, hence the latest – albeit unlikely – Dover Street Market collab. (more…)

Smythson stories: how the Mara diary is made*

Making of a Smythson diary Mara midnight

“Our Featherweight paper is the same paper that’s used for bank notes. It’s extremely thin but durable enough to be written on without the ink showing through.”

I’m being taken on a personal tour of Smythson’s Hertfordshire bookbinding workshops, where its famous diaries are produced, from printed page to hand-finished leather covers. My guide is pointing out each artisanal technique while I take in the familiar sky blue paper hue that serves as a permanent presence throughout the premises. (more…)