The Artist Jacket - Design Notes

When we develop our collections, we design for the wearer first and foremost — not for the short-term trend or the transitory season. Our clothes are about individuals and their personalities. We consider when and where our garments will be worn and the context of these occasions. SS16 is no exception. This season our muse was sculptor Richard Serra, so it seems fitting to discuss our design philosophy in relation to one of the season's key garments, the Artist Jacket. This lightweight piece embodies the easy, creative personality of Serra, and of many of the customers we meet in our shops — creative, eclectic, inspired by a range of influences.

Te Tuhirangi Contour by Richard Serra Richard Serra's 'Te Tuhirangi Contour'

We like to bridge categories with our clothes, creating trans-seasonal garments that are excellent for layering and can be easily incorporated into an individual’s personal style. The Artist Jacket is one such piece: it works as a lightweight summer jacket as easily as it could be layered under an overcoat during winter.

The Artist Jacket is one of Oli’s favourite jackets of collections past. It was updated especially for SS16 when Oli found one in his wardrobe that had been made years ago, and declared that it must be revived. Adjustments were made to update the fit and the jacket was sent away to our workshop (and was impatiently enquired after by Oli every day until its return a few weeks later). The jacket is a firm favourite with our customers too: after years of wear, it’s not unknown for customers to bring us their jackets of many seasons past — asking for repairs, rather than parting with a favourite garment.

Sketch of Oliver Spencer Artist Jacket

For SS16 we put the Artist Jacket into two fabrics. The deep, rich toned Kildale Indigo Rinse cotton was developed for a luxuriously soft finish, and also for its malleability.

Artist Jacket Kildale Indigo Cotton

Our design team wanted the fabric to be able to mould itself to the wearer, and chose an enzyme wash to give the perfect feel and colour. Once worn, no two jackets are the same. They give and fade beautifully, adjusting themselves to fit perfectly to their wearer, to create a garment that is truly a part of its owner. It sold out so quickly that we had to restock after just a few weeks.

Artist Jacket Hawksworth Navy

And newly arrived is the Artist Jacket in a summery Hawksworth cotton (above), featuring a fine navy needle stripe. Again, this is a long-wearing fabric which will adapt and soften with multiple wears. Wear it in the sunshine as a creative take on a summer blazer.

The Artist Jacket is designed to shake off and go. It can work just as well on holiday, pulled straight from suitcase (crumples and creases just add to the charm), as it can pressed and matched with pleated trousers for a formal occasion. We want our clothes to feel lived-in, and to stay and evolve with their wearers for years. We design products with longevity, not throwaway fashion. There’s nothing Oli loves more than seeing a customer in an Oliver Spencer piece that is years old.

From our earliest days, we’ve adopted a business model that incorporates environmental and social responsibility at every step. Each season, we increase the proportion of ecological, organic and recycled fabrics and will continue to do so until they represent the entirety of our collections. We also ring-fence a proportion of our revenue to put towards planting trees with the Woodland Trust.


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