Founded by John Arthur Turnbull in 1885, Turnbull & Asser possess a history that most brands can only dream of acquiring. Preserving such heritage, sustained well-over a century is no easy feat. It comes down to their dexterity in adapting to the seismic shifts taking place around them, whilst never deviating too far from the formula that has perpetuated their longevity. This past year has thrown up one of the biggest challenges yet, with Britain and the rest of the world gripped by Covid-19. But yet again Turnbull & Asser have responded with integrity to overcome this historic hurdle. As the crises set in, causing the closure of their stores in London and New York, they swiftly transitioned their production rooms in Gloucester to produce medical-grade scrubs to the NHS, whilst donating their daily profits to support first responders.
Before the pandemic, creative director Becky French had already been sensitively inducing an evolution of traditionalism. There was the ‘Weekend Collection’ in 2019 centred around the notion of escape, with designs evoking an off-duty sensibility. In the same year there was a 1970s-inspired drop of sand-washed silk shirts. And in 2020 their spring/summer collection revisited the house's fabric archive and dissected the work of artists such as Anni Albers and Grayson Perry for a contemporary feel.
In a very irregular year, with continued trepidation of uncertainty, Becky French has turned to Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon for direct colour inspiration. British painters and long-time friends who were masters at conveying unreal perspectives and distortion – it seems apt to produce a collection where pale hues are contrasted by vivid orangey-reds and rich burgundy colour pops.