Fashion: Top Scots designers leading the charge

Figure-hugging Dayglo dresses from Rebecca Torres. Picture: Comp
Figure-hugging Dayglo dresses from Rebecca Torres. Picture: Comp
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Twelve of our most promising young talents are about to be fêted by the industry’s top players, thanks to the collective that blazed a trail in 2006

BACK in 2006, a gang of young upstart Scots travelled to London to show the fashion world what they were made of. Among them were the then little known Christopher Kane, along with Jennifer Lang, Niki Taylor of Olanic and Sarah Raffel. They were trailblazing members of the first Scottish design collective.

Scotland Re:Designed: The first crop of young Scottish designers pictured in 2006 in Glasgow

Scotland Re:Designed: The first crop of young Scottish designers pictured in 2006 in Glasgow

In the intervening years, Kane, of course, has gone on to become the fashion world’s darling; Lang is knitwear designer for All Saints; Taylor designs for Schuh and Red or Dead; and Raffel is founding director of Brazen Studios jewellers.

The design collective, too, has grown up, been rebranded Scotland Re:Designed, and is about to embark on its fifth exhibition, celebrating the very best in the country’s fashion and textiles. Chris Hunt, the man behind it all, recalls: “I had put together a collective of designers starting out in fashion, raising sponsorship to take them to trade shows like London Fashion Week. Jennifer, Christopher, Sarah and Niki were the original four, but I also took down Ana Cruzalegui [the cosmetics wizard behind We Are Faux lashes] to do make-up, which otherwise she wouldn’t have been able to do.”

With most business loans unavailable to these tiny, fledgling brands, pooling resources and working together was the best – sometimes the only – way to get things done, says Hunt. “We covered things like the cost of the hotel, the sort of things that make these business development opportunities unachievable.”

The model has been honed and perfected over the years, with visits not just to London but also to New York and Chicago in recent years, offering designers the chance to secure orders from big name outlets such as Barneys, Anthropologie, Saks 5th Avenue and Thom Browne. But this time round they’re doing things a little differently.

“The feedback from the exhibitors and the panel,” says Hunt, “was that they wanted a bit more mentoring and some skills development as well as being introduced to buyers and having opportunities to meet media.”

So, for instance, next week in Edinburgh there will be combined meetings with the Scottish Textiles and Leather Association, as well as collaborations with Fashion Foundry, a business support scheme, and contributions from the likes of Johnstons of Elgin, Harris Tweed Hebrides, the V&A and MYB textiles of Ayr. “All the organisations are working together over what’s going to be a very full calender of five days.”

Buyers will be present, from Harvey Nichols, Harrods and Liberty, as well as from Scottish stores such as W2 menswear in Glasgow and Jane Davidson in Edinburgh, providing a hothouse of networking opportunities.

But how to choose those involved? The project received more than 60 applications, which were eventually narrowed down to just 12, including three designers each from four categories: menswear, womenswear, accessories and interiors.

“To choose 12 would be impossible for any one person,” says Hunt, “so it’s great to have a panel of buyers looking at it and saying, ‘I want to meet that company, I want to come to Scotland on 7 November and I want you to introduce me to this person because I want to commission a range of knitwear.’ Or, ‘I already stock that person’s jewellery but I need to top up my order for next season, can you make sure I get to meet them when I’m up?’

“Skills are developing and changing,” he adds. “There’s a lot of really exciting people working and creating fashion and textile design at amazing levels, internationally, and some new characters are coming through as well. There’s a constant stream of talent and it’s really important to celebrate and encourage that.”

Twitter: @Ruth_Lesley

• Scotland Re:Designed, 7-11 November (


Common People

Kestin Hare, former head of design at Nigel Cabourn, produces clothing with an emphasis on provenance and a focus on premium quality, craftsmanship and local sourcing. His first standalone store opened in Edinburgh this summer.


A luxury knitwear brand made in Scotland, it takes its inspiration from the natural world, whether that be rural Scottish landscapes or urban cityscapes. With managing director Stuart Maxwell – who has been making knitwear for over 20 years – and creative director Lorraine Accornley – a graduate of Glasgow School of Art and The Royal College of Art – at the helm, they are sold in the likes of Harvey Nichols and London destination store LN-CC.

Jaggy Nettle

The finest fabrics are sourced from the UK and Japan and made in Fife, creating classic clothing with, they say, a “prickly twist”. There’s Scottish cashmere, Harris Tweed and leather jackets made by Aero in the Borders – but you won’t find them on Facebook or Twitter: their motto is to “Follow no one”.


Rebecca Torres

A former student of fashion design and manufacturing at Cardonald College and fashion business at Caledonian University, Torres specialises in the use of sports luxe fabrics and is renowned for her brightly coloured, fitted creations that accentuate the female form. Her success was confirmed recently with a nod from Vogue and a sell-out collection on Asos.

Jennifer Morris

A graduate of Edinburgh College of Art and London College of Fashion, Morris favours a bold use of colour, texture and print in stand-out ready-to-wear garments that combine hand embroidery, beading, dyeing and digital and screen printing. She was named 2013’s Young Designer of the Year at the Scottish Fashion Awards.


Specialists in hosiery and bodywear, Bebaroque – Mhairi McNicol and Chloe Patience – combines distinctive screen prints with hand embroidery that has been worn by the likes of Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Kate Moss.


Rosie Sugden

With a collection both designed and manufactured in Scotland, Sugden’s cashmere is of the highest quality, but with a contemporary twist – including an animal print, bold spots and fluoro pom-poms. Her hats, scarves, gloves and socks are sold in Liberty of London, Fortnum & Mason and at Isetan in Tokyo.

William Chambers

Hats off to Chambers, whose beautiful, handmade millinery combines a taste for the avant-garde with an in-depth knowledge of business, resulting in designs that are both exquisite and wearable. It is no surprise he is sold in some of the world’s most respected retailers including Harrods and Fortnum & Mason.

John & Pearl

A cutting-edge costume jewellery company, John & Pearl specialises in pieces mixed with coloured ribbons and chains, creating bold statement designs. Now in their third season, Julie Hannay, the brand’s founder, launched her SS14 collection in Paris and boasts a list of stockists that includes Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Asos.


£350m The export value of the Scottish textiles industry

£950m The turnover of the Scottish textiles industry

601 The number of Scottish textiles companies

10,400 The number of people employed in the Scottish textiles industry

66 The percentage of businesses that employ fewer than ten people