The Making of AW25/26: With Karen Whittaker

July 1, 2024
July 1, 2024 Will Taylor

We’re thrilled to unveil the latest seasonal collection from William Halstead, designed with a focus on creativity and innovation. This season’s offering takes inspiration from both contemporary trends and the brand’s rich archives, resulting in a collection that’s both modern and timeless.

We spoke with the Senior Designer at William Halstead, Karen Whittaker, who is responsible for several of our customer favourite designs, to uncover the inspirations, offering a glimpse behind the scenes into the making of our autumn/winter 2025/2026 collection.


What was the inspiration behind the AW 25/26 collection?

The inspiration for this collection came from a multitude of sources. As always, we explored current trends through leading trend books, while also revisiting our archives. This blend of the new and the familiar allowed us to create a collection that feels fresh and exciting yet maintains the core design principles that have always defined William Halstead.


What are the key trends or themes incorporated into the collection?

This season, we’re seeing a strong resurgence of stripes, a pattern that has been less prominent in recent years. The collection offers a unique balance, featuring both modern stripes and classic checks, with a 50/50 split for a versatile range.


Are there any specific pieces or fabrics that you’re particularly excited about?

We’re particularly proud of our new textured slubby fabric, inspired by research conducted in London. This unique quality, designated H3640 (Wool/Cotton/Linen 400/420gms), offers a rustic charm with a delightful textural dimension. It’s a perfect example of how we’re pushing boundaries and introducing innovative fabrics to the collection this season.


Can you walk us through the design process for this collection?

The design process begins with initial research, where we explore trends and gather inspiration. These initial ideas are then translated onto a CAD system, allowing us to experiment with design size, colour variations, and placement. Once finalised, the chosen designs are translated into patterns and sent to the production looms.

Were there any challenges you faced while designing or producing this collection?

I find that the biggest hurdle when designing any collection, not just autumn/winter, was ensuring innovation across all our fabrics. We were committed to introducing fresh ideas and designs, while still maintaining the quality and consistency that our customers rely on. Striking that balance between new and familiar can be tricky, but it’s a challenge I find incredibly rewarding. After all, the end result is a collection that feels both exciting, timeless and something that resonates with our customers around the world. When I see those new designs translated into beautiful, well-made garments, it makes the entire process worthwhile.


What was your favourite experience when designing the collection?

I think witnessing the transformation of a CAD design into a tangible, woven fabric is always a satisfying moment. It allows us to truly see our ideas come to life and assess how the design translates into reality.

I love it when we are tagged in images on our social media accounts, and I see our fabric transformed into garments or even more so when I see them featured on the runway. It’s a proud moment every time, even after all these years!


What kind of wefts, yarns and compositions are used in the collection?

We primarily use wool, mohair, and wool/mohair blends throughout this collection, with occasional accents of other natural fibres like cotton and linen.

The weight of the fabrics ranges from lightweight (300gms) to substantial (630gms), offering options for various garment types and climates. 

To create the textural beauty of our cloth, we’ve primarily used three weaving techniques: 2/2 twill, satin/sateen, and dobby. These techniques offer distinct advantages and contribute to the overall look and feel of the cloth.

What about the colour palette and patterns?

For the AW25/26 collection, we’ve stayed true to the classic menswear suiting palette, featuring timeless greys, blacks, and navy. However, we’ve also introduced a touch of the season with rich browns and greens, creating an earthy and versatile colour range. This variety allows customers to choose pieces they can wear for various occasions throughout the cooler months.

To further enhance this versatility, we’ve incorporated modern stripes and checks into the collection. This blend of classic and contemporary patterns offers a range of options that cater to the discerning customer’s taste.


Is there a focus on sustainability or ethical production in this collection?

Sustainability is a core value at William Halstead and that’s reflected increasingly more in collections that we release. We have numerous fabrics throughout the seasonal collection and stock supported collections that are Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) and Responsible Mohair Standard (RMS) certified. This means that they are ethically sourced and traceable.


Are there any unique finishes or treatments applied to the fabrics?

Oh absolutely! This season, we’re particularly excited about a new quality, H22147 (100% wool, 570/590gms). This innovative fabric features a boiled finish, a special treatment that creates a delightfully lofty and woollen appearance. The boiled finish adds a touch of textural interest that I find truly captivating. In fact, it’s one of my favourite designs in the entire collection! It’s a unique and simply beautiful finish that I believe our customers will find incredibly appealing.


What are the benefits of using William Halstead cloth?

There are so many reasons to choose William Halstead cloth. Firstly, our fabrics are crafted from natural fibres. This makes them not only beautiful but also sustainable, hard-wearing, and comfortable to wear.

Secondly, William Halstead has a long and rich heritage in weaving cloth. We’ve earned the title “Masters of Mohair” for a reason! Every member of our team is an expert in their field, and this expertise is reflected in the quality of our cloth. We use only the finest materials, from the very first fibre to the final finish. As a result, you can trust us to deliver exceptional fabrics every time.

What’s next for the William Halstead brand?

We’re constantly striving to push boundaries and innovate; our work never ends. Our sales team is currently traveling the world, showcasing our autumn winter collection at various trade shows and meeting customers. Meanwhile, I’m already very busy, immersed in research for the upcoming spring summer collection, which will be released next year. We’re excited to see what new ideas and designs this research will inspire.

If you would like to make an appointment to view our autumn winter collection, please get in touch with our sales team. Email [email protected]