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Featured, New Designs  |  7 July 2014

Making The London Collection: Part 1

The new collection is just into production, the results will be ready for photography shortly, so it seems the perfect opportunity to give you a little background.

It’s called the London Collection, and contains 4 designs: Flaxman, Fulham, Franklin and Fitzroy, as in the London dialing codes used before telephone numbers were extended. We’ll begin with Fulham & Flaxman, the signature stripe. At Roger Oates we have an archive. And it’s quite a collection.

For the past 25 years Fay Morgan Oates has meticulously filed into boxes a sample of almost every design the company has ever produced.  These include all variations and colour ways of all retired and current designs, along with pretty much every bespoke order the company has undertaken.  There are a lot of boxes.

Last year we had some of the boxes out looking in the archives of a design called Tribal* we were debating what has become known as the Roger Oates look, the unmistakeable signature set out in stripes. * for more on this see Meet Masai

The classic design – Sudbury Brick – since 1994

One of the designs that seemed to really carry this look is Sudbury.  Sudbury is a classic, it’s repeating bands have traditionally been light brown, cream and red, brick red to be exact, this it the colour that still appears in our main collection.  The recently archived Moss colour-way has again been a bestseller, though few may remember the bright yellow or the purple versions neatly stored towards the back of the battered Sudbury archive box. Sudbury was more recently re-coloured using natural Shetland yarns, and may be considered a favourite with the company as it is in fact Sudbury that adorns the winding stairs of the Oates household.

Sudbury Moorit, part of the Roger Oates Shetland Collection (also the Oates household)

Sudbury has been a popular look since it was introduced in 1994, this year see’s it contemporary cousin Flaxman join the collection.  We don’t expect Flaxman to replace Sudbury, they will both live together in the collection for the foreseeable future.   Some clients will want the original Sudbury look but some may be tempted by this fresh update. Flaxman became a border design early on as we put the signature contrasting stripes that run through the heart of Sudbury onto a textured ground design we’ve been sitting on for a while.  We created a really smart little texture for a plain design a couple of years ago, and after several weeks of wrangling on the loom these two elements now sit together just right. So for this collection we’ve also added Fulham, the smart little texture from Flaxman, worked out as a full width design to sit side by side with Flaxman  co-ordinating on landings, sewn into rugs or simply as a smart understated stair runner in it’s own right.

Some of the hand loom samples generated – many have already been recycled…

The new colours, the inspiration comes from many different places, and mixing them together when they are woven creates infinite new possibilities, all of which we tirelessly explore with each new design. The process of working our new colours is a another story, one which will feature here soon when we have finished shooting the new collection with our photographer. We can confirm however  that never have we tried SO MANY versions to get the colours of a cloth just right, the picture shows some of the hand loom trials ‘filed’ under the desk here in the studio…






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