Quinton Chadwick; covetable contemporary knitwear
17 September 2011 by TexSelect in Alumni Stories, Fashion
Texprint alumna Jessica Quinton and her business partner Jane Chadwick form the successful independent knitwear brand Quinton Chadwick. Their relaxed, contemporary women’s knitwear is hand crafted and features quirky, unusual detailing that sets the brand apart. Trading successfully for 12 years, in addition to an online shop, the covetable pieces are also currently stocked in Fenwick, Heal’s and the Tate Gallery shops.
The friends, both knitwear specialists, joined forces in 1999, united in their mutual frustration of the gap they perceived between big catwalk statement pieces and dull, mass produced ‘collection fillers’. Their ethos is rooted in their desire, “to create beautiful, pieces that are full of character – to love and to keep”. All their pieces are hand knitted, using small co-operatives in the UK; the beautiful quality of their fabrics and the impeccable finish of the final garments defines their handwriting.
Fusing their talents and skills as Quinton Chadwick, the brand quickly made an impact with many independent boutiques as well as pieces being snapped up by Liberty, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges. They began exporting, showing the range in Paris in 2003, and were so successful they scooped a UK Fashion Exports small business design award the following year. They exhibit at Premiere Classe, (the prestigious up-market accessories fair in Paris), and this has helped them expand and consolidate their growing Japanese market.
The partners both racked up substantial commercial experience before they set up their own venture: this accumulated knowledge has undoubtedly proved invaluable. Jessica Quinton exhibited with Texprint after graduating from the RCA in 1987. She landed a design job with Missoni, living in Italy for over two years. Returning to the UK, Jessica joined Osborne & Little and also freelanced for brands as diverse as designer Nicole Farhi and high street chain Warehouse. Jane Chadwick studied in Scotland at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art before completing an MA at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She then created her own knitwear label as well as setting up an independent forecasting consultancy. The pair met while teaching part time – something they both still enjoy and commit themselves to – Jessica at Central Saint Martins and Jane at Kingston University.
The designers have honed their working relationship, sharing the design and creative process, with Jessica involved more with finance and order processing and Jane co-ordinating production and working with their knitters. They are riding the recession, having established a core of loyal customers, and developing the strengths they have in controlling their own UK based production. They see new possibilities in developing a flexible, bespoke service.
Jessica’s advice to new graduates wishing to emulate their success is this: “I would always advise working for a company to get commercial experience before setting up on your own. And don’t do it unless you are a pretty determined person, with a very ‘can do’ attitude. Then be prepared for some late nights and even some serious knock-backs – as well as the fun and excitement of launching your own label.”
Watch out for a planned Quinton Chadwick Christmas pop-up shop and an expanded online store coming soon.