Spring 24 - The Catalysts of a Collection

Spring 24 - The Catalysts of a Collection

Have you ever wondered how a menswear collection actually comes into being? We asked Charlotte Robson, our Head of Design and Production, to take us through its evolution from ideation to creation.

Hey Charlotte, first off, how did you get into the industry and how long have you been working with Oli? 

I studied fashion design at university and specialised in menswear. I started working with Oli in 2009 so just over 14 years ago now! Perhaps I'm suffering from Stockholm syndrome! The brand has definitely evolved and grown since I started - back then it was a much smaller team. The progression from a small brand with one shop and a few wholesale customers around the world, to a growing number of stores, London Fashion Week shows, and a much more established name is thrilling to have watched and be a part of. Aesthetically, the brand has progressed and matured with the needs of our customers, aiming to deliver a contemporary wardrobe each season, while staying true to the brand’s heritage and Oli's vision.

Can you walk us through the genesis of a new collection? How and where does it start?

Everything starts with fabric, textures and colours. Fabric is very important to how we build the range, and kickstarts the process each season. We then establish the colour palette we will work with for the collection and build around that. We draw inspiration from a range of sources, including vintage garments, things we’ve found on our travels and a variety of cultural influences. There's always an element of looking back to look forward, thinking about successful pieces from previous seasons and finding ways that we can update them. We work closely with the factories to get prototypes and swatches for us to see and tweak before making a full sample collection to present to wholesale clients.

What are the typical challenges you face and how do you overcome them?

Other than Oli on a day-today basis you mean?! These designers want the world yesterday! But seriously, sustainability is key to Oliver Spencer, so trying to shift as much of the collection to be made using more ecologically conscious materials and manufacturing processes is important. It’s not always the easiest way to make the clothes, so understanding how to build it into the product is a constant learning process.

The constantly changing weather patterns of the world means we have to adapt the ranges to include product that is right for the shop floor at that time of year. When I started for example, our autumn collections contained much more heavy winter clothing, but as the seasons have shifted the autumn collection now has more of a focus towards late summer.

Manufacturing high-quality products at a viable price point is increasingly difficult as the costs of raw materials and manufacturing are constantly increasing. We work closely with the factories to establish the most effective and successful way to produce each garment. Ensuring consistent quality product that our customers know and love is really important.

What are your favourite pieces from the new spring collection?

There are some great textures and fabrics in the new spring collection. I particularly love the Rackfield Black/White and Granville Navy fabrics. These are both made in our Morton Pleated Trouser this season, a relaxed pleated shape which looks really contemporary, and works well with some of the new knitted polos in the collection. The knitwear for spring is really fresh too: it’s 100% organic cotton and comes in great textures and colours. I also love the Bradwell Jacket in Priory Black - it’s a relaxed versatile jacket that’s been made in a lightweight seersucker this season, and can be worn in so many ways.



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