Export strength

Button-hole machine repairers. Tricky to find, mid-morning on New Year’s Day. This is one of many lessons learned in making for Japan over the past six weeks a sort of greatest hits of British make — comprising cord, cotton, linens, and sensible amounts of cashmere.

“It’s all about the details” is what they say. The words make sense, but the meaning has been clouded through overuse. What are these details — where are they and what are they doing? When making a first capsule collection for stores in Japan, the details aren’t details of flourish or design; they are details of quality — of make and finish. The precision of a button-hole, the pliability of fusing, the roll on a shoulder. Crucial detail.

The details are why you strive to work with the best, with workrooms and factories in which trust can be very firmly placed — and which, crucially, in being almost on the doorstep, can be visited as and when, and worked with hand-in-glove. Ideas exchanged. Production methods suggested. Catastrophes circumvented. A convenient way to work.

Some chads (right) and some pins (below). And above, pin-dot wool-cashmere cloth from a Yorkshire cashmere mill: two of three made-to-order colours.

The outcome, then: a small bunch of garments of corduroy, cotton, and linen from Yorkshire; pin-dot wool-cashmere from this lot; and plenty of new additions, with the makers map expanded west-wards by several hundred miles — on which more later.

So there. Fifteen “high-summer” garments put together in six short weeks over Christmas and New Year; a feat made thinkable only by the terrific and tireless efforts of half-a-handful of people in a workroom in North London. Many of the garments will be online shop and workshop-bound in the next few months. News here and on Twitter.