I’ve been meaning to share the story of Kettlewell’s current print designs with you for months, ever since Melissa mentioned it at a meeting when we were looking over the new season collection. I thought it was such a great story that really encompassed everything I love about Kettlewell – a passion for colour and design, wise use of what is available and a willingness to always try something new.
For a few seasons now, Kettlewell has been featuring a new retro print in each collection. These prints, however, aren’t retro in the sense that some nameless studio designer sat and churned them out along with forty seven other print designs that day. No, these prints are the genuine article. I asked Melissa for a little more information:
Right, own up. Where do your amazing vintage prints come from?
John’s uncle, Michael Nicholson, was an art student at Brighton College in the 1950’s. He went on to become a photographer, working closely with Terence Conran in the early years of Habitat. After he died 10 years ago, John’s brother Ben (photographer of all our catalogues) discovered his portfolio from art college which contained these print designs. Three of Michael’s designs have been used as Kettlewell prints so far and we have more to come.*watch this space! The roses print (above) will be back soon, due to popular demand, and this time will feature on tops.
What clinched the decision to use the prints?
Over the last few years there has been a strong trend for ‘vintage’ and ‘retro’ – as people look for one off and original pieces. With the increase of large retail chains that have dominated the high streets up and down the country, it is refreshing to find something a bit different. We are also in an era of being more conscious of re-cycling and cutting back on wastage – so it feels good to take a bit of creativity from the past and bring it to life.
Any plans for these amazing prints beyond using them as limited edition Kettlewell prints?
Ben is in the process of setting up a fabric company called ‘Kissing Fish’ (after one of Michael’s designs) and will be printing a selection of the designs on to linen for interiors which will perfectly capture the current desire for mid-century textiles. Follow his Facebook page here.
As well as asking about the vintage prints, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to find out a little more about the design process of the prints that Kettlewell select so well each season, choosing prints that work for a range of seasons, styles and body shapes.
Where do you normally (when not inundated with fabulous one off design finds in family attics) source your print inspiration and designs from?
We look at what’s current and try to choose a universally appealing print that will work in different colourways – this factor is key. When I visit our factory in Turkey, I look through hundreds of different print designs and ear mark any that I can visualise as tops, skirts or dresses and that might appeal to our target audience. I then look at the scale and colours and play around with the print until it looks right.
We know you are experts at colour, so getting the palette for each print right comes naturally, but how do you choose a print that will work with the biggest range of personal styles too?
Prints are very personal and what’s right for a small winter with contemporary gamine little clothes is not going to appeal to a large scale Autumn with a flowing romantic style – so it’s almost impossible to choose a universally appealing print. When I am considering print designs I drift around the office asking anyone and everyone which is their favourite and then go forward with the most popular, bearing in mind the colouring and personal style of all the individuals. I like to be fair but at the end of the day I have to like the print and it must represent Kettlewell the brand.
Do prints make up an important part of Kettlewell’s range?
Yes, even though we started out producing colour basics, the prints have become a key part of our offering to our customers. Prints can help break up the solid colours and add so much interest to a look, so it is an area that is constantly being developed and refined as we get to know our customers even better.
Thanks to Melissa for sharing her insider knowledge about Kettlewell’s prints and the design process, and if you have any questions about any part of the design or production process, please let me know and I will enquire on your behalf!