I’ve been a pescatarian (Veggie that eats fish) since the Lenten campaign 1998. With the odd slip up here and there involving Taco fries I reckon I have saved the lives of at least a herd of cattle & a flock of sheep. Now, with all this lifesaving work I am a pioneer in, I do like to indulge in using some of the off cuts of noah’s ark. Sheepskin / Shearling(*) being my new obsession.
It has been on the fashion menu for well over three thousand years. Shearling dates back to 500 B.C plus. In 2013 a mummy was uncovered in China wearing his very own pair of B.C UGGS & sheepskin coat. The insulating qualities are so immense that in 1953 the first man to climb everest Sir Edmund Hillary (below) wore sheepskin boots to keep off the frostbite at night while resting. He’s a bit of alright isn’t he!
So I came across the brand Gushlow and Cole www.gushlowandcole.com a number of years ago working at a show in Paris. Really cool, stylish down to earth ladies… the girl you want to be.
There and then I ordered my first shearling coat. It was the most I spent on any piece of clothing (€LOTS) however it did not disappoint when it arrived. It was reversible, beautiful earthy black delicate suede on one side with thick cosy brushed hair on the inside or vise versa. It is Divine (below) & I wore it to death & it’s still good as new.
I got in contact with Katrina Cole to explain just what the process is from sheep to my back. An unbelievably huge amount of craftsmanship goes into each garment, which makes every piece unique & of exceptional quality. The timeline from initial design to delivery can take up to 8 months…
In order to make just one coat they lay out approx 50 skins suede/nappa side out and find approximately 12-13 (depending on length of coat) that colour match perfectly.
Colours are researched in September, the design is created, pattern completed and trial runs are done, which usually takes around 3 times before a final sample is produced. All skins although dyed in the same drum can vary in shade due to factors like fat content, so no skin is exactly the same. “Once we have our selection, we then have to match the wool side, as these can vary greatly as well. So we need to take away and add to find the correct amount for the best possible colour match both sides.” That is a serious amount of puzzle work.
Once the selection is made they lay on the pattern pieces to find what skins fit each pattern piece. “This is a tricky process as you have to lay on the pattern piece according to the direction of the wool, if the wool is laying the wrong way it can make your coat ride up, sleeves twist round or just not look very nice”.
This jigsaw of around 20 pieces all has to be cut whilst avoiding flaws, bald patches and ribs (which are like stretch marks). Sheep with stretch marks, nice to know my clothing suffers from the same affliction as my butt!
Once cut, the machinist will sew every piece together using a specialist fur machine. It will be sewn together in a specific order and be passed to the finisher in between for pressing and perfecting along the way. It then takes a finisher to sew the button, press and check for imperfections before it is labelled, bagged and ready to send. Specialist craftsmen and women complete each one of the processes of pressing, buttoning and combing out all the wool from the seems to make a flawless finish inside and out. It takes 3 to 4 people to make the garment then 3 people to design and pattern fit each piece.
WOW over 6 people finely tuning every process to make one coat, incredible!
The Good and The Bad
I asked Katriona what G&C’s worst disaster was; Very modestly after they launched the label they did not think they would be called by SAKS in New York to view the collection and booked skiing holidays so Katrina sent her poor Dad in for the buying appointment. “The head buyer still remembers him to this day, luckily, she thought it was hilarious! Apparently he done a good job!”
I’m imagining Katriona’s dad must be quite suave and not like most dads who would probably approach it in a way that they were actually selling the sheep in the Mart! Anyway the clothes spoke for themselves and they were snapped up by SAKS!
G&C’s most pricy garment made. “Most expensive garment would have been the shearling gown we made for an exhibition at the tower of London. it had a big long train like the Queen’s coronation gown, value around £4000 (dont ask for pictures, it was right dodgy!)”
And finally I asked her what was her most favourite piece to date. “Favourite Gushlow and Cole piece has to be our shawl scarf. It has been in the collection since we began, and still stands the test of time! There has been many copies, which I can only take as a compliment, but it is like my baby, and I am very protective of it!”
So moral of the story, explore your outer Jon Snow in this seasons latest shearling, after all winter is coming. Baa Ram Ewe….. Ba Ram YOU.
PS. These arrived yesterday, SWOON!
Reversible Toscana Shearling Jacket & Shawl Toscana Shearling Scarf.
Check out the Gushlow & Cole website for stockists in your area. www.gushlowandcole.com
• Shearling is a skin from a recently sheared sheep or lamb that has been tanned and dressed with the wool left on. It has a suede surface on one side and a clipped fur surface on the other.