The Collared Shepherd’s Coat references traditional working jackets, with a simple oversize roomy cut and a large collar to keep out the wind. Large olive wood buttons are widely spaced and the deep riveted pockets are folded up around the hem, from the inside to the outside, so they can be accessed from either side.
Wool for woven and knitted garments in Tender Autumn/Winter 2018 was shorn from a small flock of 30 Ryeland sheep raised in the Scottish Borders. Their wool was offered exclusively to Tender and has never before been used for clothing.
The Ryeland breed is one of the longest-established in Britain, thought to have originally descended from Spanish Merinos. Mediaeval records show a flock of 300 Ryeland sheep at Dore Abbey in Herefordshire, where the wool was collected and processed for shipment overseas. Ryeland wool was particularly prized in Italy and Flanders, for spinning into the finest yarns which were used as the standard for other wools. In the 16th Century, Elizabeth I is said to have received a gift of Ryeland wool stockings, and thereafter insisted on wearing only clothes made from the yarn. The ‘Wool Sack’ on the Chancellor’s seat at the House of Lords was originally stuffed with raw Ryeland fleeces. Today, Ryeland wool is unusual as its varied colours and relatively slow growth make it unsuitable for commercial farming, however its texture, weight, and natural colours are second to none.
This coat has been woven like a denim with a 100% cotton warp and 100% ryeland wool weft. The end result is a garment that is very wooly on the outside (and very warm) but smooth like cotton on the inside.
All of Tender’s clothes and accessories are made in the UK. This is partly a matter of convenience as factories, ateliers, and maker’s homes are all no more than a drive away from the studio, but also because there is a particular character and personality to different countries’ production: making and designing in parallel, in the same location, seem to lead to products with more integrity and coherence.
Garments are sewn by a husband and wife team of two, in their own small factory in the Midlands. One of the reasons that Tender’s clothes have their own special feel is the selection of machines used. Even lightweight shirts are produced on heavy machines designed for workwear and industrial purposes. By retooling and adjusting to allow for the fabric weight, garments come out with uniquely twisted or puckered seams. Longer stitch patterns give a feeling of practicality, but also avoid damaging the fabrics with unnecessary punctures and allow slight flexibility in the seams, helping the clothes to mould and form even better to the wearer’s body over time.