Founded by Jess Quinton and Jane Chadwick, the focus is on traditionally crafted knits in 100% natural fibres, zero waste production, eco packaging and using British mills and British spun yarns. The designs (Jess’s love of pattern and colour originated from her first job at Missoni) and colours are bright, fun, uplifting and inspired by favourite modern artists. You can also find them in Liberty. Read on for the interview…
How I Wore It
I’ve styled the quite glorious *Chevron brushed wool scarf in soft ochres and greys – nice and light but extremely warm – with a long black coat and biker jacket for two different looks.
*gifted items, this post also includes affiliate links
How did Quinton Chadwick and your design partnership come about?
Jess: We met through the industry and working as designers witnessed the slow death of textile and garment manufacture in the UK, as large companies moved their production off shore. So we launched QC because we wanted to make knitwear using only the few small British mills that had been able to survive. These brand values fit with our current concerns about the effects of fast fashion on the environment and we continue to make traditionally crafted knits in 100% natural fibres, all made in Scotland and Nottingham.
We knew working for ourselves would have lifestyle benefits and we both wanted families and also wanted to have fun! We try to make sure each collection reflects our sense of humour proving ethical fashion can be fun as well as sustainable.
How do you apply your ethos of sustainability and slow living to the business? Can you explain a little bit about ‘Small is Beautiful’ ?
Jess: “Small is Beautiful” is a book (full title “The Study of Economics As If People Mattered”) by economist E. F. Schumacher. It was given to me to read by my Dad when we first set up the business and, although written in the 1970s, still feels incredibly relevant today. He discusses the same issues we face now with climate change and the effects of a fast growing global economy on the environment. His thinking was that staying small is more sustainable because you keep better control of the quality and the provenance of your products. Also that people are more important and more visible in a smaller company. As Quinton Chadwick grew, I became more and more interested in the heritage, craftsmanship and people found in our UK knitting mills, where the same machinery and skills have been used often for hundreds of years. It feels important to preserve this and help keep these local communities alive and productive.
We feel passionate about the “Buy Less Buy Better Make it Last “ way of thinking and as such, sustainability and the ethos of slow living is at the heart of how we work. As well as using only British mills for the knitting we also use British spun yarns. Making sure that these fibres are always 100% natural and biodegradable. Lambswool has many amazing properties and is, of course, a renewable resource. We also work to combine traditional techniques with new knit technology to ensure there is zero waste in the production process, our seamless hats and cut edge scarves are cleverly designed so nothing is left over. We also make sure that all our packaging is recycled and any plastic used is now biodegradable.
What aspects of your past experiences do you bring to Quinton Chadwick and how do you implement working together successfully?
Jess: We both worked in the industry and trained in Fashion & Textiles. Colour has always been a passion, in fact my first job was with Italian fashion house Missoni which really embedded my love of pattern and colour. I also witnessed in Italy how a family run business that sticks to its core values can be successful. We both feel that colour like music can be uplifting and but is also incredibly subjective – so we like to work with four or five stories each season with different colour palettes such as Earthen, Sporty, Rainbow and Ocean. We love the variety of reactions they inspire among our customers. We often look to modern painters for pattern inspiration – Sean Scully, Bridget Riley, Joseph and Anni Albers are strong favourites. We knit our own initial knit swatches on small hand flat machines, the phase of the design process Jane calls “painting with wool”. Having run the business together in London for around 15 years. We now work on separate sites as Jane has moved to the Suffolk countryside and runs the online side of the business from there, while I am responsible for running the design studio in London and working with the mills and the wholesale side. We are proud to be stocked in our favourite London store Liberty and Merci Paris, among others.
What are your favourite designs right now and how are you wearing them?
Jess: My current faves are our LOVE gloves which spread a little warmth and fun, they also make great gifts. Jane loves the Arrow scarf which is one of our signature graphic patterns. It looks great with a jacket as styled on our website and can be worn indoors too because it’s a very light weight merino.
See website link www.quintonchadwick.com