We all the know the power of a good coat! From the ineffable confidence boost it gives you to go out and face the world to the ‘keeping you cosy warm’ when baby, it’s cold outside. Two women who passionately get this and make the most exquisite creations are the designers behind luxe shearling brand Gushlow & Cole…
The designs created by lifelong friends Emma Gushlow and Katrina Cole are utterly timeless, and absolutely the coat you will still be wearing into your later decades. Easy to wear, not trend-dictated, perfect for cocooning yourself in and with pockets in all the right places. As teenagers in the late ’80s and early ‘90s, Emma & Katrina’s inspiring sense of style was heavily influenced by London’s club, music and fashion scene, Kensington Market vintage, Helen Storey at Hyper Hyper and Vivienne Westwood on the Kings Road – love this!
Made from by-product Iberian skins, all materials used are from fibres that will naturally decompose into the earth, so 100% biodegradable. Each design is handmade here in England, in the Gushlow & Cole workshops. Inspired by the bustle and creativity of Katrina’s father’s leather & shearling factory to study fashion, the two friends took their early designs to Spitalfields Market and onwards to an accessories show at London Fashion Week.
But I will stop here and let the design duo take over the telling of their wonderful partnership in the Q&A below! I hope you enjoy a peek into their story, style and design process as much I did…
Your design partnership is born of a great friendship, how does the process break down between you?
Katrina: Throughout the year we will naturally get a feel for the direction we want to take for the next collection. We are always in sync with one another, which makes working together very easy. We just like the same things, we’ve been like this from about 11 years old, we always used to have the same bag or shoes, in fact we carry the same bag now, lol! So designing the collection is very much a two way process, decisions throughout are made by both. When it comes to ideas, I have a more scatter gun approach and Emma is far more considered. It is Emma who in the end has the eye and manages to pull the collection together to make the final cut.
Emma: Having been friends since the age of four, we have spent many years in each other’s company. This means we have an understanding of each other’s particular style and approach to design but retain individual influences. We bring our different aesthetics to the design table and sometimes take on a design each, but more often than not we work together to combine ideas from the initial stage through to fit.
These are such special forever pieces to be worn every year, how do you create designs with longterm wear in mind?
Katrina & Emma: Working with shearling is completely different to working with cloth. Shearling has so many beautiful qualities that for us, it’s unnecessary to clutter with detail. It is details which you would normally find in cloth outerwear that somehow dates things. Our design aesthetic is less is more, we strip designs back to the bare minimum and let the shearling itself do the talking. We concentrate on shape and fit. If a garment is made well, to a classic modern shape, perfect fitting, in a beautiful material, it will stand the test of time. Shearling itself does not date, unlike cloth, and if you can make a beautiful garment without too many ‘on trend’ details yet still achieve modernity, then you have your forever piece.
Which pieces from your collection will you be wearing this AW? How do you like to style your chosen piece?
Katrina: The Lacon V-neck jacket in navy is my go to when I need to slip on a light weight layer. I wear a lot of white T-shirts and shirts with jeans and find this jacket quietly elevates the ordinary into something special.
I love light colours, especially in a coat, so chalk white is a firm favourite. I always go for something in curly Toscana as it’s so warm and really stands out. I always get a stack of compliments when I wear this type of shearling. So the obvious choice for me this season is the Hooded Shearling Coat. The plush white hood gives it the wow factor yet the coat is really practical for day to day wear, while also being special enough for the evening. I literally will wear this coat from the football pitch to the Royal opera house.
Emma: This winter I will be wearing our chunky cropped flyer in navy and styling it with a grey pleated midi skirt from Zara, a white shirt and some hiking boots. The cropped flyer is reversible so will also look great wool out with some wide leg trousers and loafers.
My favourite scarf at the moment is the Belt Scarf because it is such a versatile piece. Katrina and I love coming up with ideas to make a piece multifunctional and this ticks every box. It literally can be styled in about five different ways and can be worn as a stand alone piece, it’s not just a scarf!
See more at Gushlow & Cole.