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Alex Feechan

Hawick Knitwear has launched a luxury cashmere brand called Clan Douglas Cashmere Studio

You’re the designer behind Clan Douglas Cashmere Studio, the brand which has launched for autumn 10. What’s the story behind it?

The brand is owned by Scottish manufacturer Hawick Knitwear. Clan Douglas Cashmere Studio is a luxurious label selling 100% cashmere and cashmere blend garments. It combines the 140-year heritage of Hawick with a modern twist and contemporary edge. Hawick believed it had the resources to create a new brand representing Scotland in a contemporary way and it is an exciting opportunity to get out there and show what we feel luxury means nowadays. The autumn 10 collection is inspired by the Scottish Borders in terms of both colours and textures. I then translate it into yarns. I also get inspired by street style, which gives the collection its contemporary edge. The collection consists of chunky tops, and beautiful and chic eveningwear dresses and cardigans. We also do applications with peacock feathers, for instance. It’s quite contemporary with a vintage feel.

Does it help to have the support of an established business to launch a new brand?

It’s a huge benefit. Launching a new brand is a huge undertaking, and having the experience and knowledge of Hawick is paramount to making Clan Douglas successful. I can ask the team for advice to ensure I make the most of my ideas.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to launch a new label?

You have to believe in your design and product. Determination and commitment are also paramount. Starting a new label requires a lot of energy and willingness to work hard.

You’ve worked for manufacturers where Chanel and Calvin Klein were customers. How has that helped you in your current position?

Working alongside these manufacturers really inspired me and showed me the importance of attention to detail and of the product itself - they taught me to never compromise on my design. My experience has been very hands on. The Royal College of Arts, where I did my MA, has a great reputation for producing students who understand the business side of fashion. It was a fantastic opportunity to develop design skills in a very arty environment.

Who do you see as the brand’s competitors?

There are a lot of companies that do luxury lifestyle products but few focus entirely on knitwear. Loro Piana and Johnstons are probably our most direct competitors. We also compete with some high-end designer labels renowned for knitwear such as Chanel. Prices are £55 to £255.

What plans do you have for the brand?

We want to be sold in boutiques and department stores like Harvey Nichols. We’ve started showing at trade shows and went to Premium in Berlin and will also be showing in Las Vegas. We’ve also opened a London showroom. From an international point of view, we’re planning on expanding in the US and Japanese markets.

Alex Feechan is the designer of cashmere brand Clan Douglas Cashmere Studio

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