Much of the silk that has been arriving these past few weeks is the culmination of working directly with my contacts in Italy over coffee and bottles of fizzy water to try and find ways to deliver more vibrancy to our silks. Looking at warps and wefts and working out which warps and which structure of making a silk will deliver the best result for our limited edition designs is not something that is clear cut. We rejected two silks, something we rarely do, because they didn't show the design up well enough. Sometimes, if you choose the wrong warp and weft, you can get a scratchiness in a silk and the colour comes out lacking lustre and depth.
It's for this reason that a lot of silk designers don't deviate too much from standard classics where they roughly know the lie of the land. In that instance, take a pin head for example, one only needs to change the colours the following season based on the new warp colours available.
But then there are the unique designs we run, like the tiger below, or the virus centre. Both are exceptionally different which means that you run a greater risk when realising them that either you lose definition in the design, or you lose richness and lustre in the ground. As these designs are very much unlike anything else that the loom is weaving at the moment, it can perplex the technicians and in some instances, the samples come back and are rejected.
In between these limited edition silks we also work on existing silk weaves in plain colours which are often already sampled by the loom. New garza and grenadine weaves that arrived this week, for example, are not designed by us. These solids are usually developed by the loom each year with only the colour changing depending on new thread colours and warps that are being offered. This is the usually the easiest part of any buying trip - when it's merely the weight and handle of the silk along with the visual and sensory texture of the silk which decides it's fate.
The beneficiaries of these explorations are our customers. Where once you might have seen four bow ties in a collection each season from a brand, now we are able to build a collection once a week, post them online by Friday afternoon and be sold out by Monday.
It is a wonder whether the consumer does appreciate this? I can recall that not ten years ago you could not find a self-tying bow tie of any reputable quality on the internet. The companies that did produce silks did so once every six months. There was no opportunity to order a different shape other than what they told you you could have. Neck ties weren't that different either.
These days a silk arrives on Monday morning. By Tuesday afternoon it has been cut and is almost sewn. By Wednesday it's in a Fedex bag. By Friday it's in New York.
What a wonderful world for consumers it has become!