Sir Walter and students boost cashmere brand

L-r, Laura Richardson (Print Designer from Heriot Watt) with Anja Alexandersdottir (Weave Designer Student) in The Chinese drawing room in Abbotsford House with their scarf designs.

L-r, Laura Richardson (Print Designer from Heriot Watt) with Anja Alexandersdottir (Weave Designer Student) in The Chinese drawing room in Abbotsford House with their scarf designs.

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A fast-growing local textile brand, specialising in premium cashmere accessories, has found inspiration in both the future and the past to create a new luxury scarf range.

Sinclair Duncan of Galashiels has given a nod to the future by harnessing the talent of students at the town’s Heriot-Watt University School of Textiles and Design.

And they, in turn, have taken their cue from Sir Walter Scott – the literary figure synonymous with the Borders, noted for wearing shepherd’s plaid and credited with elevating tartan – to become part of Scotland’s national identity.

The brand was founded two years ago by Sinclair and Debbie Paterson to reinforce and exploit this region’s reputation for high-quality textile manufacturing.

As the son of late rugby legend Duncan Paterson, who owned and ran two textile mills in the town, company director Sinclair amassed more than 20 years of experience in the industry before he and Debbie set up Sinclair Duncan.

“Last year, we advertised for two students, one doing weave design and another doing print design, to create two scarves – one for ladies, the other for men – which would be unique, luxurious and draw on local heritage, and we were lucky to have a great response,” recalled sales and marketing director Debbie.

The selected students, who combined on the brief, were Anja Alexandersdottir, 22, from Forres, and Laura Richards, 23, who hails from Plymouth.

And it was after a visit to Scott’s home at Abbotsford that the creations took shape.

The plaid so favoured by the writer is reflected in the border of both scarves.

The ladies’ scarf has soft tonal colour changes, evoking heather, Scottish sunsets and the oriental wallpaper in the drawing room of the house.

The men’s garment is predominantly a rich burgundy inspired by the dark oak shades of Scott’s study. Fittingly, the new creations, produced in limited edition and retailing at around £220, were officially unveiled in Abbotsford’s beautifully restored Hope Scott Wing.

Guests, including Anja and Laura, were welcomed by Giles Ingram, the recently-appointed chief executive of the Abbotsford Trust.

“The influence of Abbotsford and Scott make this a truly Borders creation and something Scott would certainly have supported,” said Mr Ingram.

After the launch, Debbie told The Southern: “Students are the next successful designers and we view our alliance with them as vital to promote and support the UK textile industry.

“We would have no hesitation in working with Heriot-Watt again as Anja and Laura were professional, positive and truly creative throughout the process.”

The scarves, which can be ordered online from Sinclair Duncan, are also available from the gift shop at Abbotsford and at the Lawnmarket outlet of Hawick Knitwear in Edinburgh.