CHRISTOPHER Kane, the Versace designer regarded as Scotland's hottest fashion prospect, has signed up Johnstons of Elgin to make his range of cashmere clothes for 2008.
Kane's collection, which will be unveiled at London Fashion Week next month, is expected to provide a boost for the Scottish cashmere industry, which is picking itself up after an onslaught of cheap overseas imports.
James Sugden, Johnstons' managing director, said: "Christopher Kane is an exciting young designer and this helps to move the product onwards and upwards into new areas. It shows we are capable of making world-class couture to the highest standards."
Scotland's cashmere industry has gone through a tough time over the past five years, with competition from cheap supermarket cashmere which is usually manufactured in China.
Sugden said companies such as Johnstons had targeted the top end of the market and were starting to benefit as consumers drew a distinction between cheap and luxury cashmere.
Last year the company cut jobs from 650 to 600 in order to focus on higher-value garments.
Sugden said: "We are making the same turnover now, but that is on a smaller volume. There is more change to come in the industry, but it is recovering and we have no intention of moving production to China. We frequently get asked, but we could not do what we do offshore."
Johnstons, which was founded in 1797, runs mills in Elgin and Hawick. The Elgin mill is the only one left in the UK which carries out the entire garment production process on one site.
Kane, whose clothes sell for 2,000 and more apiece, said: "I love pure cashmere, it is such a luxury to have in your life, and the fact that Johnstons produce all of their ranges in Scotland makes it very special for me."
Kane started working with Donatella Versace after the designer saw him completing his degree at Central Saint Martins School of Fashion in London.
He will unveil his collection at London Fashion Week as part of a group known as the Glasgow: Scotland with Style Design Collective, which is backed by Glasgow City Marketing Bureau and the Scottish Parliament.
The style jamboree provides a platform for 210 designers and generates an estimated 40m in sales for those invited to attend.
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