Stephen Walters for British Textile Week
Stephen Walters – 300 years of weaving in Sudbury
Stephen Walters – visual board by UKFT
Stephen Walters is a family-owned textile company founded in 1720. Specialising in the Jacquard weaving of innovative fabrics for men’s and ladies’ luxury apparel and neckwear, Stephen Walters is celebrating its 300-year anniversary this year.
Along with sister company David Walters, which designs and manufactures high-end woven jacquards for interior fabrics, Stephen Walters combines artisan skills with the latest technology to create custom design, bespoke woven fabrics from noble fibres, including silk, cashmere and linen.
With an exemplary history spanning 300 years of quality manufacturing, Stephen Walters continues to strive to move forward and develop the business further: they have invested this year in the development of a coherent sustainability strategy which is clearly explained in the new ‘Sudbury Silk Mills Sustainability brochure’.
Meet some of the team…
Ceri Yates is the Director of Sales at Sudbury silk weaver Stephen Walters, a family-owned textile company founded in 1720. In this interview for UKFT’s British Textile Week Ceri discusses what’s new at the mill, the latest collection and how this 300-year old business manages to stay relevant for designers and brands today.
Here, some of the Walters team from different departments within the mill talk about their roles and what it means to them to be part of the Walters team:
Sarah Sherry, Design Manager at Stephen Walters
“When I relocated to Suffolk to undertake work experience at Stephen Walters back in 1994, I could only have dreamt of the career that would follow. I was fortunate to secure a permanent position and the culture of working within a family run business and one with such a rich history was and always has been tangible, therefore I was invested from day one. As a Designer in those early days, I worked with many media, including pen, ink and paint before the introduction of Computer Aided Design (CAD) which I believe has given me the foundation of knowledge that I still reference today as the Manager of a busy and creative department. Over the years the one thing that has never altered is the challenge of producing beautiful designs that transfer into the most luxurious products on the market. This passion for exceptional fabrics and innovation is why Stephen Walters remains as relevant today as it has always been and why I feel extremely proud to play a small part in its history.”
Karen Roberts, Testing, at Stephen Walters
“A customer gives us a few threads for us to develop the colour. We dye the yarn; it goes through various tests. When I see it being woven for the first time, it’s just mind blowing and makes me feel proud that I have played a part in the production of that fabric. The Walters family has been weaving for 300 years, that must make us one of the Worlds exceptional weaving companies.”
Jenny Kipling, Graphic and Technical Designer at Stephen Walters
“What it means to work at Stephen Walters as a graphic and technical designer is hard to define, it’s hard to express the fortune in finding exactly the career you trained for. Then to spend 10 years building up knowledge, learning about customers and markets, the nuances that separate apparel fabrics from season to season. In an ever-changing market, I feel proud to be part of a company that is so determined to look ahead and keep growing.”
Rachel Claydon, Sample Preparation at Stephen Walters
“My love for silk started as soon as I left school and started working in the industry. I’ve seen many changes over the years all progress. From old hand warps and cards used on the jacquard looms with their wooden shuttles, turning into things the computer can now do at double the speed if not more. Having the knowledge to marry the old and new together still goes well when knowing how to sort problems when they arise. Being able to understand the process from start to finish, which results in such a beautiful product will always fill me with pride. Our heritage here in Sudbury is so rich with the association with silk we count ourselves very lucky.”
Wayne Roberds, Technical Manager at Stephen Walters
“For me every day brings a new and exciting challenge. With the help of my skilful, experienced and dedicated team of technicians, we face the challenges with relish and perseverance, regularly and passionately overcoming the obstacles which only the fine art of silk weaving is capable of throwing at us!”
Maria Sandberg, Weaver and Team Leader at Stephen Walters
“Weaving at Stephen Walters has made me grow a passion for yarns, colours and the strive for perfection. I feel incredibly grateful that, of all the people in the world, I get to use my skills and senses to not just see and touch, but actually create something so beautiful every day.
The inside story…
Molly Hayden, designer at Stephen Walters, was recently interviewed by the BBC and in the interview discusses her passion for her ‘dream job designing for a new generation.
UKFT’s British Textile Week is a digital showcase of the craftsmanship, imagination and innovation of the UK textile industry.