Joshua Ellis for British Textile Week
Yorkshire-based Joshua Ellis is renowned for producing the finest handcrafted cashmere and woollen cloth, and is a fashion leader in luxury accessories.
Joshua Ellis – visual board by UKFT
WATCH: Joshua Ellis managing director Ollie Platts speaks to UKFT for British Textile Week
In this interview for British Textile Week, managing director Ollie Platts explains how the business has diversified its product range, has brought younger people into the 250-year old company and is continuing to invest in innovation and machinery. He also talks about the future of British manufacturing, sourcing closer to home, telling the story of production and developing the Joshua Ellis brand.
Heritage and Craftsmanship
Joshua Ellis is immensely proud of its industrial heritage and roots, pouring heart and soul into every metre of fabric produced. The mill hums with the daily manufacture of the world’s finest fibres – Cashmere, Escorial wool, Lambswool and Camel Hair – into the most exclusive fabrics and accessories; just as it has for over 250 years, skills being passed from generation to generation.
Situated in Yorkshire in the north of England, heartland of the wool industry and a region built on skill, technical prowess and soft water, Joshua Ellis was established in 1767 to produce the heavier woollen cloths necessary for warmth and durability. Since then, modern machinery has been married with age-old manufacturing techniques to produce the collection of luxurious products that the company offers today.
Every piece of fabric goes through 21 different processes before it is deemed perfect for sale. Each stage from design, to yarn spinning, weaving, finishing to final inspection is carefully executed in our own special way, in the company’s own factory, to make sure that the design and quality is second to none.
AW 21/22 Fabric Collection Inspiration
“Our Yorkshire heritage has a strength that forms the undertone of everything we design and manufacture. In setting out to create our AW21/22 fabric collection, our inspiration was intertwined with the foundations of Joshua Ellis, formed over 250 years ago. Investigating the Company’s origins and the historical social advancement of the time, during the development of our latest collection, we followed a journey of traditional local industries and their quest for growth.
The beginning is always a good place to start, so we visited the site of the original Joshua Ellis mill and the various industrial museums around Yorkshire that house traditional weaving and yarn manufacturing equipment. The colours and shapes of the machinery filling the long factory floors with light flooding in through the windows was a wonderful starting point for our research.
The original mill would have been powered by steam and fuelled by coal – fascinated by the old machinery, visiting the National Coal Mining Museum seemed a natural progression, a working environment with a wide range of machinery both above and under ground highlighting the technological enhancements of colliery experience, and social structure through time.
Captivated by the interesting shapes and drawn to the corrosion on the equipment, a theme of natural decay became the focal point of our inspiration. We were intrigued by the layers of flaking paint and onset of rust showing its bright industrial hues through clinically painted machines left open to the elements. The interesting colour combinations and sporadic patterning we discovered, inspired us to create several vibrant coloured images that have since been used to influence the AW 21-22 collection.
Another source of inspiration was a visit to the nearby Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Sean Scully’s sculpture ‘Crate of Air’, formed with both horizontal and vertical lines resemble the structure of a woven cloth. Dependent on the angle viewed, entirely different lines are created forming shapes and shadows; this became the basis for a wide range of check designs within the collection.
These structures, with their imposing shapes on the natural landscape and the interaction between the soft lines of nature and the sculptures strong lines, made us think about proportion and how to bring elements of a design to the fore and make it stand out from the ground of a fabric.
UKFT’s British Textile Week is a digital showcase of the craftsmanship, imagination and innovation of the UK textile industry.