Creative In Conversation: Augustin Dol-Maillot Of Luxury Cashmere Brand Barrie

Creative In Conversation: Augustin Dol-Maillot Of Luxury Cashmere Brand Barrie

The House of Barrie is a heritage British brand that’s known and loved for its cashmere since it was founded in 1903.

Located in Hawick, a small village on the Scottish Borders, it’s one of the oldest cashmere factories in Scotland, starting with the production of stockings, with an extension into clothing and knitwear by the 1920s.

At the heart of the production processes is innovation as well as tradition and technique, as each Barrie garment may require up to forty operations, most of them done by hand, using artisan skills passed down from generation to generation. With all this know-how, it comes to no surprise that Barrie has been supplying leading fashion brands such as Chanel with its cashmere (it has been part of Chanel’s Métiers d’art since 2012), before establishing its eponymous brand in 2014.

Fast forward four years and Frenchman Augustin Dol-Maillot took on the position of Artistic Director, having previously worked with the likes of Chanel, Dior, and Kenzo, and on his own clothing label. Now at the helm of Barrie, he’s evolving the house in terms of look, customer base, and collections (cue the new capsule launching this month) while still retaining the rich heritage and character of the label. That’s no mean feat.

Augustin tells us about his journey from the world of graphic branding to the House of Barrie, and how he caters for his classic yet contemporary customer.

Felicity Carter: What is your first memory of fashion?

Augustin Dol-Maillot: When I was 16, I wasn’t doing great at school and my mum asked me what would I do if I needed to work. At that time, I was feeling very sensitive about the way I looked and my style, so I said fashion. She encouraged me to do an internship during the summer vacation – luckily for me, she got me one at the Chanel Studio. I remember the first day, alone and scared, when I first stepped in that iconic building, 29 Rue Cambon. It was very intense and I still remember the scent. I still smell it every day when I go in to work!

FC: How and when, why did you first get into the fashion industry?

ADM: I was around 20 years old and was working as a graphic creative director at Research Studios, Neville Brody’s creative agency. As I was working for graphic branding with brands like Chloé, Kenzo and Dior, I felt the desire to work closer with the clothes. So I started my own brand with my brother and a Parisian workshop. Creating something from nothing with very little help is a great way to grow up fast. It’s hard, you make mistakes – but I had a great time and met great people that I’m still working with today. It is the best way to learn fast and it gives a 360° vision which is so important these days.

FC: What aesthetic and feel are you wanting to bring to the brand?

ADM: First of all, Barrie is a historical Scottish brand, so in essence its DNA is very “British”. However, the studio is set in Paris. The influence of the one on the other is essential about what we want to create.

It’s always an exchange between the Parisian creation team and the Barrie development team in Scotland. You can feel that in every piece. it’s never flat or plain, every piece has a 3D effect with different types of knitting. You can feel all the experience and abilities of the historical Scottish savoir-faire.

It’s always about the duality between fashion and the technical aspects. It’s important that the customers feel a sense of desire when they see the products on the hangers or on images and, as they come closer, they feel amazed by the infinite technicality of how the product is made.

It’s also essential to us that the respect for heritage and cashmere translates to the customers. We create must-have products which are made with a very high level of exigence, and also want to offer creative products that are made using innovative processes, and our team are always pushing the boundaries.

FC: Who is the BARRIE customer?

ADM: There is no one Barrie woman or man, they can be very different. There is not just one type of customer. It could be someone that likes to wear comfortable clothes but still loves to look sharp. It could be someone who travels a lot, an artist, a musician. I always picture them as having strong personalities. I like to think that I design clothes that have a meaning, that provoke a response in the people who buy them. They can feel safe, powerful, classy or even sexy. And most of all, the Barrie customer is someone that has a real sensitivity about the product, the fabric and the knowledge behind it. We have that duality in our customer. A person moving with a world that is always changing, but who never forgets the past.

FC: What season are you currently designing, and what’s on your mood board?

ADM: We are currently working on Spring/Summer 2022. Our constant challenge is to create that Barrie DNA, a kind of thread that is runs through all the different seasons. It’s important to keep markers so you can identify a Barrie piece without even looking at the label.

Starting from there we can explore different moods, different faces of the Barrie woman or man.

FC: Fashion is a relentless industry, how do you stay motivated?

ADM: It’s pretty scary but I would say by not stopping. You have to continually project yourself into the future through new desires. Movement is key. You have to always discover new things or rediscover things you already know, but with a fresh eye. I like to keep different people around me, to travel, walk, get new hobbies, explore them. I need to have hobbies and passions that are outside the fashion even though everything is connected to it. It keeps my mind very busy, but I’m scared that if I stop for too long, I might find that I’m completely wrong about everything I just said! I don’t really enjoy silence.

FC: What’s coming up for the label?

ADM: We always have ambitious plans for the future, it keeps us creative. Most of them stay in our minds but they allow to always look for new ideas and new process.

We’d like to extend our offering for men, and to keep working on new ways to mix cashmere with other textures and fabrics. We have a capsule collection launching in July in which we mixed jersey with iconic Barrie pieces. It’s a way to reinterpret our own DNA and to make it desirable to a new field of customer.

The new cashmere and jersey capsule collection launches mid-July. See more from the brand here.

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