How a fashion brand arose out of love for Cornwall

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Nadja Beschetnikova
March 23, 2018

What is Cornwall, UK, famous for?
The gorgeous coastline, the incredible ales, and delicious locally produced foods are probably the landmarks that come to mind.

It’s a perfect destination for the photographers due to the breathtaking landscapes and wildlife.

As a foodie traveler, you must put Cornwall on your list too, because it’s famous for the delicious short-crust pastry pies. Family recipes which have been passed down through generations, with variations in each family offer a true taste of Cornwall.

Besides, the ‘English Riviera’ has a special place in the heart of many Brits with nostalgic memories of seaside holidays.
But fashion? Perhaps this is the last association that can arise when you look at the Land’s End cliffs and the narrow streets of Penzance.

But once the bastion of the working classes, full of miners and fishermen, Cornwall is slowly succumbing to the spell of gentrification and developing in the stronghold of the bourgeois.
And the presence of its own local fashion brand corresponds to this status. And, after all, it's really hard not to be inspired by the picturesque environment.

Cornish heritage and nature are both core values and source of inspiration for the Seasalt, a fashion brand, located in Falmouth, Cornwall. The brand is renowned for its maritime-inspired clothing and accessories.

The company began its life as General Clothing Stores, a purveyor of practical workwear for fishermen, sailors, and artists.

In 1981, on a wet August day, the Chadwick family went into a little shop in Adelaide Street, Penzance. They only went in to buy some waterproof coats but ended up buying the shop as well.

When Don Chadwick, who has run the shop, passed away in 2001, their three sons, Leigh, David and Neil, decided to create a clothing brand inspired by all the things they love about Cornwall. And so the idea of Seasalt was born. In 2004 Neil married Sophie, a print designer, and the journey began. 

The company moved to the studio overlooking Falmouth Bay in Falmouth, Cornwall. 

Now Sophie is responsible for all beautiful handcrafted prints, which became a hallmark of the brand. The prints are directly influenced by Cornwall itself, the sea, bats on the Fal estuary, forests, wildlife. Each one is unique. The flora and fauna found all around Cornwall provides a constant source of inspiration.

The prints start life as sketchbook scribbles, before being developed using a wide range of different techniques. Carving shapes into lino blocks or even potatoes for printing is also a useful method, and always creates that lovely handmade feel.

Only when Sophie and her team are satisfied with the results, the prints are scanned into the computer. Then the designers can create the repeating pattern, and play with the colors until they have a print that works well for the garment and can easily be outfitted with the rest of the styles in the planned collection.

"Living in Cornwall, we’re inspired every day. The flora and fauna found all around Cornwall provides a constant source of inspiration – you’ll often find pretty foliage, anemones, leaves and seed heads within our prints,” said Sophie Chadwick.

Simplicity is at the heart of everything produced by Seasalt. The clothes should be not only beautiful but also useful. The brand uses only the softest, most comfortable and beautiful fabrics. And of course, you can rely on quality, tested in the Cornish maritime climate.

Recently, the brand began selling fabric by the metre through its online store.

Seasalt has almost 50 stores all across England and South Wales, and is growing fast. The brand also supply around 400 stockists in the UK and Europe.

Around 10% of the business is export. Last year Seasalt sold to 56 countries online. The Cornish clothes are especially popular half the world away, in New Zealand and Australia.

The fast-growing retailer employs 800 people. Last year the company turned over around £41m and it's growing at roughly 20% per annum.

Recently, the brand launches a new range of handcrafted jewellery, which combines matt resin with sustainable haldu wood.

“The quality of our product and design continues to resonate with our customers, as does our love for our Cornish heritage. What’s great to see now is that our investment in infrastructure and people signals a success well beyond the Cornwall factor,” said Neil Chadwick, co-founder and chairman. 

Photo via Wikipedia Commons / Keven Law

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