Special thanks to “The UB Post” for conducting an exclusive interview with UK-based designer Martin Parker, who has been working as a consultant for GOBI Cashmere’s Autumn and Winter 2020 collection since last May. GOBI and Parker’s latest collaborate collection, “Paintbox”, draws out your sense of adventure with stripes and unique color combinations that we’ve never seen on cashmere before.
Read The UB Post interview with Parker to learn more about “Paintbox” and cashmere.
Let’s begin our interview with your collaboration with GOBI on their new collection. Can you tell me about this collection and what you have designed for it?
Cashmere should be accessible to everybody and that is what I liked and what attracted me to work with GOBI. It doesn’t appeal to just the luxury market – their products are accessible to everybody. There are quite a few stories that we worked on with the design team for Autumn/ Winter 2020, but I think the most exciting for me was the “Paintbox” story, which launched on August 24 on GOBI’s website.
The concept for “Paintbox” is basically that color expresses personality and individuality, it brings joy, it is bold and has a lot of vitality to it. It celebrates the joy that color can bring to yourself and others around you. GOBI is famous for its cashmere and I’ve always believed that cashmere and color go hand in hand. I don’t think you can have one without the other. Because cashmere is such a beautiful fabric and takes color really well, I came up with this concept.
From my experience of working with British and European brands, I noticed that a lot of people are drawn into color and are very excited by it. “Paintbox” is one of my favorite stories because of its color aspect and the stripes you can see on the gobicashmere.com website.
Seeing that you described “Paintbox” as colorful and vibrant, will we see a new range of colors that we haven’t seen on cashmere before?
Yes. GOBI wants to go into other markets and has big, ambitious plans. As I mentioned before, I was attracted to working with GOBI because it strives to make cashmere accessible. They want to bring that message to the world. I thought that GOBI was not potentializing that opportunity with color so I tried to offer a different range of colors that will appeal to different personalities and customer types. You will see that it has trend colors – ones from the catwalks in Europe and the USA such as green, khaki and a lot of bright colors.
That sounds exciting and I can’t wait to see them online. What have you brought to GOBI’s designs to make them accessible? Does it include more casual clothing such as loungewear?
Yes, that’s exactly what I did. What’s interesting about fashion now and the changing industry is how people’s idea of dressing is changing dramatically due to the unusual circumstances we find ourselves in in terms of the lockdown and COVID-19. Though, it was changing even before all of this.
As people started to work more from home, there was a huge shift toward casual wear. They wanted to wear more comfortably and be much more relaxed. Again, when I talk about cashmere being accessible, I also mean that it is accessible in terms of not just who is buying it but also how you wear it. The beauty of cashmere is that you can dress it up or dress it down. So, it’s great for when you’re working from home or just lounging around, relaxing and watching TV during the weekend, but you can also go out in cashmere and feel really special. I was attracted to GOBI because they’ve got different kinds of facets – smart, formal and casual. They have a huge loungewear range as well, which is really relevant. With people working more from home during the lockdown, any kind of loungewear, jogging pants and sweatshirts have been more appealing to everyone.
How many designs are you introducing for this collection?
When designing cashmere or any knitwear, you’re actually designing the fabric. You have to really think about what you’re designing and all of the details – ribbon, application, color, etc. In this collection, I worked on around 50 to 60 designs. It was a joint collaboration with the design team, so they had already worked on some of the collection, but I helped make them feel a bit more relevant to a European customer. GOBI has a big classic core range of cashmere – crew necks, V-necks and turtle necks. I worked with the design team on how we can update those in terms of color, pattern and design to make it appealing to any age group from young to old.
Which design do you expect to be sold out the quickest?
That’s the million dollar question, right? I’ve seen it online and some of my favorite designs are the blue jacquard sweater that I find really cool and some bold stripes, which I think is quite new for GOBI. I know they’ll sell well.
I think that some of the menswear are looking great as well. I quite fancy a sweater myself. It has a little tipping on the cuffs and around the neck. It’s hard to pinpoint my favorite but the stripes are definitely standing out.
From your experience, how has the cashmere industry changed over the years?
I’ve worked with cashmere for seven or eight years now. I noticed that cashmere has become much bigger as in much more over-produced and more accessible to everybody but not necessarily always in a good way. GOBI is offering very high-quality cashmere at a very good price but there are other retailers and brands that don’t have as good of a quality. I’ve also noticed how much more sustainable cashmere is as a yarn. I liked GOBI because everything they do is sustainable. They have their own goats that feed on the grassland, they spin their own yarn and they dye their own yarn. All of that helps them become more eco-friendly and sustainable.
Going back to “Paintbox”, what message do you want to deliver to customers through the collection?
The message is to just have fun with cashmere. For a long time, it has had an image of being quite old, classic and stuffy but the concept of cashmere is changing. It has become a lot more contemporary. Cashmere is for everybody – it’s fun, inclusive, and lifts your mood. It is an investment that will last you for a lifetime. Cashmere is timeless.