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CASHMERE AFFAIRS: The Chinese superfine baby cashmere clothing brand 1436, whose creative director is Scotsman Graeme Black, will open the Edinburgh International Fashion Festival on Friday evening with a fashion show aimed at highlighting the centuries-old trade relationship between the two countries and their expertise with cashmere.
“China has supplied cashmere to Scotland for just over 200 years, and the show will reflect their relationship. We’re using yarn from China, spun in Fife [Scotland],” said Black from his London studio. He said the show is also meant to underline the skills of the Scottish weavers – many of them women, working by hand, knitting and twisting yarns and employing traditional techniques. In addition, the finer intarsia knits that will appear in the show were made and hand-knotted in China.
Black’s one-off collection of knits and wovens features abstracted Celtic symbols resembling Chinese characters; Scottish thistle and Mongolian flower patterns, motifs taken from Chinese porcelain vases, an abstracted tartan check and Arts & Crafts-inspired patterns. The 47 looks in the show include long cashmere coats, block-printed organza skirts, dip-dyed intarsia knits, a double cashmere strapless prom dress, a long fisherman knit dress, and a long bright red skirt in the shape of a lantern. It will take place at the National Museum of Scotland, and kicks off the festival that runs until July 25.
Black said that some of the knitwear will go into production for sale in China, although the main point of the runway presentation is to highlight the countries’ way with cashmere.
1436 is owned by the Erdos Cashmere Group, a vertically integrated organization based in China. It wants to make inroads in the West, and Friday’s show is its first major step into the international arena. Black said he will be meeting with New York retailers in August to talk about expanding the collection outside China.
Erdos accounts for one third of the world’s cashmere production, and specializes in processing and weaving. The 1436 label was founded in 2006 by Jane Wang, whose family owns the Erdos Group. It works with the finest baby Arbas goat cashmere and currently sells through 42 of its own stores in China.