Keeping knitwear trendy
We spend five minutes with the House of Cheviot marketing project manager Ashley Drysdale to discuss the exciting future of the famous Scottish knitwear business.
Tell us a little bit about the history of the company
The House of Cheviot was set up in 2002 by James Wright and Robin Deas, who decided to combine their textiles, design, and entrepreneurial business skills to form what is now renowned as one of the leading luxury knitwear manufacturers. The iconic Cheviot Hills, which dominate the Scottish and English borders, provided inspiration for the company name, and based nearby in Hawick – known by many as the home of knitwear – we are lucky to have a skilled workforce in the town to produce and take great pride in our products.
And what is your day-to-day role?
I started working for the House of Cheviot five years ago as an admin assistant and two years ago I took over the running of the website. I also helped out Robin with some design work over the years which I really enjoyed, and when he retired in 2016 I was promoted to marketing manager – a role I absolutely love.
Since Robin retired, Ann Sadler (account manager) and I have become responsible for meeting key customers and putting together bespoke ranges for them. Robin has a wealth of technical knowledge and a flair for colour and design, so he’s a tough act to follow. But I’m learning more about the yarns, modern machinery and techniques on a daily basis, and I am constantly researching country clothing trends to help with inspiration.
Social media is now a major part of what I do, too, and has been a great way of getting to know our customers and engage with them. We are are now able to receive instant feedback about our designs and customer service.
What is the House of Cheviot team like to work with?
We currently employ 22 friendly and passionate members of staff. When I started working here, Ann told me that I would learn to love socks and no longer think of them as an outfit afterthought. She was right, I’m now utterly obsessed with socks.
The House of Cheviot has also been instrumental in supporting the Modern Apprenticeship Scheme, and has trained-up four full-time apprentices to date. Having young people working within our business injects enthusiasm, new ideas and helps to balance tradition with progression.
All of the manufacturing processes are completed under the same roof, too, from concept to completion. And every employee takes pride in creating top-quality products and being part of a brand that is ‘Made in Scotland’.
How does the production process work?
Making socks isn’t as simple as one might think. Each sock – we make approximately 58,000 pairs a year – passes through at least 12 pairs of skilled hands, from choosing the yarn to hand sewing, pressing and packaging.
We also safeguard the premium quality of our socks by using only the best yarns – our beautifully soft cashmere yarn is combed from goats living in the high plateaus of Mongolia, and we use only the finest Australian merino wool. Good quality materials paired with our expert craftsmanship ensures the most luxurious hosiery.
How often do you introduce new designs?
Country clothing has modernised and become increasingly fashionable in recent years and is no longer targeted at gentleman of a certain age. And there are now so many new and exciting brands launching into the industry that keep us on our toes.
We like to introduce new designs every year as it keeps our range fresh and interesting. Plus being located in the Borders, where wild uplands meet picturesque valleys, we have the ideal location to put our socks to the test and see if they work.
The subtle, earthy tones used in our traditional collections are inspired by the beautiful countryside around us and will compliment classic Scottish tweeds and tartans, whilst our more vibrant designs are inspired by Aztec, Nordic and catwalk fashions etc., and provide the wearer with a more striking look. There really are no limits, and our knitting manager Stevie does an amazing job of turning our ideas into products you see online, in shops, and in the field.
Who would be your most memorable client to date?
Every client is different, and each has their own story of why they want our socks. That said, we have been lucky to be involved in some new and exciting projects, including some televised period dramas, socks for the wives of the European Ryder Cup team, but the most famous would have to be the latest Wonder Woman film.
What are the plans for the future?
The business is going from strength to strength, and in addition to our current customer base we are now attracting a younger market with our varied range of designs, and managing director James has given me free reign to try new things and work with different people.
It really is an exciting time to be involved in knitwear.
THE BUCKMINSTER RANGE OF GUNDOG SHOOTING SOCKS
Take out a year's subscription to Fieldsports for £40 and receive a pair of our Buckminster range of gundog shooting socks designed by the House of Cheviot: