N.Peal's creative director, Adam Holdsworth, on how the Yorkshire landscape inspired the autumn/winter collection and campaign shoot .
Yorkshire is very personal to me. I was born here, married here, my four kids were born here, I live here and the N.Peal team is based here. It's a very down-to-earth place, very calm and relaxed. There are lots of varying landscapes in the UK and the Yorkshire Dales has its own character and look. Everyone who lives here, or who visits, really appreciates the natural beauty of the place. As a cashmere brand, N.Peal has a strong connection with nature, so the Yorkshire landscape was an obvious inspiration for us to build a collection around.
Yorkshire is very beautiful, in a really earthy sense. You've got rolling hills, trees, moors and rivers. At first glance, calming green and grey tones prevail across the landscape - with stone walls and country lanes cutting across the expansive green fields - but actually, when you stop and look at the finer details, there are lots of colours in there with rusts, reds and pops of orange; particularly in autumn when the trees and grasses start to change colour.
Our AW20 collection draws on all of these colours, looking very much at an autumnal landscape and at the greys of the dry stone walls, which are very specific to Yorkshire. And then we have textures and patterns that reference the more architectural elements of the landscape, such as a beautiful houndstooth pattern inspired by the contrasting tones of the speckled walls, and textural ribs that reflect the sense of relaxed order imposed by the lanes.
We decided on Yorkshire as our theme for the AW20 collection in June 2019. Of course, back then we had no idea what lay in store for us, and the rest of the world, in 2020. When the pandemic hit the UK and we went into lockdown, suddenly I was working from home in Yorkshire and not constantly travelling like I usually do. The pace of life slowed drastically, and I was able to spend some amazing time with my family. With that slower pace of life - something almost never afforded to us in modern life - I had the opportunity to appreciate the finer details of the things around me more. Spending more time in the beauty of Yorkshire's landscapes, I started to notice and really appreciate simple things, like looking at the wild plants in the hedgerows, observing bees and butterflies going about their business and seeing the beauty of moss growing on an old stone wall.
I felt able to see again - things that are all around us, but usually ignored as we sweep past at a frantic pace. I remember being out on a walk with my wife and we stopped and sat down to enjoy the sunshine on a grass bank near the moor. At first we were just enjoying listening to the silence, but then we realised the abundance of sounds about us - the bird song and the rustling of leaves in the breeze - and we experienced an enhanced appreciation of nature that I'd almost forgotten about.
At the time we were planning the campaign shoot for the AW20 collection, which had to be postponed from April to July. I wanted the images to showcase the beautiful Yorkshire landscapes, and to celebrate the simple pleasures and the finer details of life - sitting to appreciate a beautiful view, admiring the hedgerows on a lane, taking a stroll through tall grass, the solitude of the moors or exploring a beautiful old building.
In July, we managed to organise a socially-distanced photoshoot, which took place over three days at locations all within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. We started in the Wharfe Valley, near to my home, and then we went to the gardens at Broughton Hall - a Grade I listed, Georgian stately home. The next day we went to the Duke of Devonshire's estate to capture some images at Bolton Abbey Priory - an old church that dates back to the 12th century and has a ruin part and a working part - and up on Barden Moor. We spent the final day at Malham Cove - a very impressive Yorkshire beauty spot, characterised by a large, curved limestone formation.
Some of the pashminas in the AW20 collection feature prints that we created from images of the stonework details at Bolton Abbey Priory, and of the pattern formations seen in the cliff face at Malham Cove, as a direct reference of the landscape, so it made sense for us to go back and photograph the new collection in those locations.
The events of 2020 have made me realise how busy we all are, and how everything moves at such a frantic pace that often we stop appreciating the finer details. At N.Peal, everything we do is about these finer details - from sourcing the finest Mongolian cashmere and operating an ethical and sustainable business, to ensuring every piece of clothing we create considers form, functionality, beauty and longevity in equal measures. As we transition through the autumn and winter months ahead, let's remember to welcome a slower pace of life, reconnect with the amazing nature that is all about us and take a moment to consider, appreciate and reflect.