First published by T Magazine on 20 February 2017
Neat pinafore dresses, belted vests and high-waisted coats, all in a rubberized, waterproof fabric: These are the pieces of a new collaboration between the Scottish heritage brand Mackintosh and the young British label Le Kilt, which launched on Friday during London Fashion Week.
It’s the latest in a series of intriguing partnerships for Mackintosh, which has collaborated with Vetements and Maison Michel in the past. The brand’s rubberized fabric — which is constructed by hand and tape-sealed at the seams — was patented in 1823. This long history is a natural fit for Samantha McCoach, the Edinburgh-born founder of Le Kilt, who is fascinated by traditional Scottish craftsmanship. Her grandmother has been a kiltmaker for over 40 years, and when McCoach launched her own brand in 2014, at the heart of it was the hope of maintaining that expertise. In the new collection, the kilt appears in black, white and a loud red tartan.
McCoach designed the collection at the Mackintosh factory in Cumbernauld, using fabrics from the archive. Sometimes, limited materials put interesting constraints on her work: “There was an amazing little black-and-white houndstooth, which there was only 14 meters of, so that almost dictated the design,” she says. She used the houndstooth sparingly across the collection — mainly for pockets.
The resulting clothes — which will be available in Mackintosh’s new store which opens in New York this spring — have a distinctly Mod-like feel; McCoach raised the belts and nipped in Mackintosh’s coats with pleats at the back. While the archive fabrics range from gray wool to postbox red, she’s also offering every piece in a plain black version — a personal preference. “Everything I wear is black; even my flatmate came back from Paris a couple of weeks ago and brought me black fabric conditioner,” she says.