In collaboration with The Woolmark Company and woolen mill A.W. Hainsworth, the Christopher Ræburn AW16 womenswear collection features some of the most distinctive REMADE designs to date. The REMADE line takes its inspiration from utilitarian and predominantly military clothing (from where many enduring designs have their origins) and their history. Since as early as 2001 Christopher has adapted and reconstructed surplus military pieces into contemporary garments and accessories.
The first Christopher Ræburn jackets to feature Hainsworth wool were actually part of Christopher Ræburn's first ever collection, remaking new pieces from woollen British 'battle dress jackets', made from Hainsworth cloth. Yet when looking for local dead stock wool for more outerwear designs, Christopher Ræburn was led directly back to the source, Hainsworth's mill in Yorkshire. And in keeping with Hainsworth's own efforts to be as efficient and sustainable as they can be, dead stock Hainsworth wool and offcuts have been used in outerwear, accessories, dresses, trousers and the infamous Christopher Ræburn mascots since 2010.
A.W. Hainsworth has made woollen cloth since 1783. The company established by Abimelech William Hainsworth has since then clothed royalty in the most important ceremonies, as well as emergency and military services around the world. Hainsworth have in fact been supplying the British Military and the War Office with cloth since the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Indeed the term ‘the Thin Red Line’ was named after the distinctive scarlet Hainsworth fabric of the British regiments, coined in the English press after the Battle of Balaclava. Of course at the end of the 19th century the requirements were for a cloth that was more protective in colour and would better conceal the troops so Hainsworth worked closely with Leeds University and developed the first Khaki Serge in 1899. But the scarlet wool endures.
All Hainsworth fabrics are woven by dedicated and skilled craftsmen and the mill is a vertical one, meaning every part of the process is completed on site from the blending of raw wool right through to the careful finishing and dyeing processes. Most of the wool Hainsworth produce is merino and comes from New Zealand and Australia: It is very soft, this is due to the climate in which it is grown, warm and sunny temperatures don’t require a thick wiry coat which would normally protect the sheep from cold, wind and rain. Merino wool is also highly breathable; its fibres can absorb large quantities of moisture and move it away from the skin for fast evaporation. The fibres also have the ability to adapt to changes in body temperature, keeping the wearer warm in cold conditions and cool when the environment heats up.
The functionality of their fabrics is paramount, and today Hainsworth produce a number of technical patented protective fabrics, including working with DuPont for jet fighter pilot uniforms, and Nomex and Kevlar for fire service apparel all over the world. Interestingly, many fire services used wool up until the early 1980s. The mill also makes fabrics for the interiors of rail and aviation vehicles. With their own in-house UKAS accredited laboratory, Hainsworth offer a range of standard tests for evaluating specific textile properties, both physical and chemical, to make sure they are suitable for their end purpose, but especially for the technical and protective fabrics that need to meet industry standards. And it's not just the military and service industries that benefit from the Yorkshire mill's products. In 1992 Hainsworth purchased EJ Riley, snooker table manufacturers, and added cloth to their range. The cloth produced at Hainsworth is applied in plenty of other ways: from blankets and cushions to technical felts found inside the workings of Steinway pianos.
REMADE Ceremonial Biker Jacket
But everywhere you go at Hainsworth, you are reminded of that one fabric in particular; the scarlet wool. Still used in Her Majesty's Royal Guardsmen tunics, the blood red merino wool is unmistakably British. The fabric has changed slightly over the years – it now contains a small amount of nylon which makes the fabric more hard wearing – but it still has that same look as it has since the Battle of Waterloo. Hainsworth's dye house also perform rigorous tests to obtain a uniform distribution of colour throughout the fabric and ensure consistency of shade from batch to batch. The colour of their fabrics do not fade, so the ceremonial uniforms you see could range from two to 20 years old, but the colour will remain consistent throughout. And each individual regiment who use the scarlet wool have their own individual decorations and buttons, embroidered and attached by military tailors.
The natural versatility and adaptability merino wool offers (as well as how beautiful it is to touch and wear) make it one of the most enduring fabrics in the Christopher Ræburn collection. And it is the guardsman's ceremonial jackets that exemplify the structure, handle and colour which Hainsworth fabric is renowned for. The standout piece in this season's women's collection is the REMADE Ceremonial Biker Jacket, crafted from deconstructed and reworked original Guardsman's tunics. Originally constructed by military tailors, these garments have beautiful raw edges, with tightly woven and consistent cloth and expert finishing, including the various embroidery, badges and buttons.
Constructing a REMADE product:
- Christopher and his team spend time searching warehouses and websites for dead stock and surplus military textiles.
- Today the archive at the REMADE Studio holds over 1000 different military and service garments and artefacts.
- For this season's Ceremonial Biker Jacket design a total of 50 Guardsman's ceremonial tunics were sourced.
- The jacket is cleaned and checked for defects and then carefully deconstructed with scalpels and fabric scissors.
- Patterns are then cut and components prepared for the machinist.
- The new design is then stitched and sewn into the new shape, with zips and embellishments attached.