IMAGE: @ADMGNG FOR BAGAHOLICBOY
Chanel’s annual Métiers d’Art collection has always been about showcasing the specialist ateliers that are all now part of the French luxury house. From a handful in the early days to 26 different maisons at last count, you could say this is Chanel’s way of protecting traditional crafts that might have been lost forever otherwise.
And you could say this is one thing I’ve always admired about Chanel. Nobody told them they should, there’s no real incentive to spend millions propping up old crafts that people no longer want to buy, but by doing so, and by reinventing the designs, weaving them into Chanel’s own collections and making them relevant today is a laudable feat that should be recognised.
Which brings us to the subject of today’s post, Barrie. Originally a small family-owned outfit that’s now part of Chanel, they specialise in the ‘harvesting’ of luxurious cashmere. More specifically, they deal exclusively with one breed, the Hircus goat, that only thrives in Inner Mongolia. In other words, Barrie has vast lands in Inner Mongolia dedicated to the breeding and well-being of this species, from which the wool is harvested and sent to Scotland for further processing.
And because one can only harvest wool at specific times of the year, only so much can be harvested at any one go, making what passes the final quality control round even more precious, especially when each fibre has to be uniform when it comes to fineness, length, resistance and softness.
Dyed and tinted to Barrie’s own specifications before being spun into thread, small batches of everything from capes to sweaters and hoodies are made (there are at least 40 different steps in producing a single piece of garment) and sold at their boutique that’s just opposite Chanel’s very own Rue Cambon boutique in Paris. But that’s not all. Barrie will also contribute pieces to Chanel’s own RTW collections, like the Métiers d’Art 2018 (Paris-Hamburg) collection that’s currently in boutiques worldwide including Singapore. And because it is a collection that’s dedicated to Karl Lagerfeld’s hometown of Hamburg that’s also a bustling seaport, you can expect everything from knitted coats to woven sweaters in this nautically inspired collection.
So the next time you pass a Chanel boutique anywhere and see something knitted in the window display, know that it probably came from this 1903-established Scottish knitwear house that’s famous for its outstanding traditional expertise.