The initial stages of our research explorations for ‘Re-Mantle and Make’ has involved approaching some of the largest textile manufacturing mills and factories in Scotland such as; Johnsons of Elgin, Begg and Company, MYB Textiles and the Scottish Leather Group. They have all generously supported this research by gifting pre-consumer textile surplus including; leather offcuts, cashmere and woollen selvedge edging, woven fabric, coned yarn and lace.
In addition to sourcing these materials, it has been truly valuable to visit some of the factories to gain a broader insight into the first lifecycle of each material. We have visited Begg and Company and MYB Textiles and hope to visit the others in the near future.
Through our factory visits, we have been humbled to be provided with access to an abundant array of knowledge, skills and expertise that has evolved and been sustained for more than 200 years. The original equipment is still being used in most cases, and in excellent functioning order, alongside the addition of advanced technology such as jacquard looms. The digitisation has allowed the mills to diversify there capabilities and this has resulted in them fulfilling orders for external brands across the world.
We gained a real appreciation of the care and consideration applied to each material throughout each stage of sourcing, design and production. We walked the factory floor following the journey of coned yarn – from the storage tower hosting a rainbow of exquisite colours, through to where yarn is wound into a warp and threaded onto a loom before being woven into a cloth and then additional equipment is used for finishing processes. Each stage of the process produces textile surplus to a varying extent and this is collected and redistributed to external suppliers for other areas of production.
Following our tour of Begg and Company they provided us with cashmere selvedge ends, which are remnants of finished scarves but often the softest part of the scarf. The luxury quality of these materials is categoried as high value textile waste, but we have adopted the word ‘surplus’, as opposed to waste, to highlight this retained value.