Choosing the perfect fabrics, that's where we start the design process for each new Battenwear collection. The cork-board above our design desk is a shaggy quilt of swatches and drawings. We stare at it, rearrange it, delete, and add. We pull our hair out when a fabric gets discontinued, and the puzzle is suddenly missing a perfectly colored piece. We high five when we find an even better fabric to fill the void.
Each fabric we choose has to be high quality, seasonally functional, unique, and well suited to hang on a rack next to the rest of the fabrics in any given collection. What we most like is when we can choose fabrics linked to the history of the clothing that inspires us.
Madras is a perfect example.
We recommend that you poke around a little online to look at the history of madras fabric. It's a complicated story, not without some dark moments, and too long to get into here.
The part of the story that we love is the "Guaranteed to Bleed" chapter. Basically, the American source of all that is preppy, Brooks Brothers, imported a whole heckuv a lot of Madras in the 1950s. Apparently they didn't do their homework, and when they realized that the fabric had lots of idiosyncrasies (runs in the cotton, bleeding of colors, fading) they tried to go after the fabric mill in Chennai (previously known as Madras), India.
Well, as it turns out the owner of the mill was a bit of a baller, and he somehow convinced Brooks Brothers to celebrate the eccentricities of the fabric instead of balk at them. And then another baller on the Brooks Brothers team came up with a PR campaign: "Guaranteed to Bleed" which encouraged shoppers to buy Madras just to see how it would change as they washed and wore it. The collection sold out immediately.
We are big proponents of the idea that clothing should develop and change as you wear, wash, and wear it. That's one of the founding principles of Battenwear. AND we were raised on the Ivy look, and have often played around in the intersection between prep and outdoor. So, when we had the chance to make a capsule collection with a mill/factory in Chennai, the birthplace of Madras, we made that the center of our design cork-board for SS20.
We made three items in the collection:
1) The Golf Jacket (preppy look, laid back feel, our new favorite every morning walk jacket)
2) The Topanga Pullover (loose, cool, great pockets)
3) The Weekend Shorts (pleated elastic waist with inner drawstring, excellent wide leg fit)
We've been wearing and loving these pieces, combining them together and mixing them with the rest of our SS20 collection items. Couldn't be happier with how the the project turned out. Let us know what you think!