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The Story of our Stripes

Posted 26.02.19  - Style


The Turnbull & Asser archives hold, amongst other things, a series of giant leather-bound books. They contain pages of colourful striped patterns, made up of gouache painted pieces of card, cut and arranged into different compositions.

These delicate strips of paint record decades worth of Turnbull shirt fabric developments, from as early as the 1910s. Some can even be matched to one of our ‘exclusives’ from a season gone by.

Today we design our striped fabrics digitally, but we still refer back to these archive books for inspiration, discovering bold and brave designs painted in gouache. Now, illustrator Samuel Kerr has painted one of this spring’s exclusive striped shirts in traditional gouache with its corresponding palette alongside, celebrating this historic technique.

The symmetry between the depth of colour in Kerr’s artwork and the different tones in our stripes is striking and detailed; we hope it encourages you to see the colours in our shirts in a different light. We’re proud of our famous ‘exclusive’ stripes and we take great care to perfect them – much like Kerr and his painting. We asked the talented artist a few questions about his craft, which you can read below. 

Turnbull: Tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you became a painter.

SK: I began drawing from a young age, and so painting was a natural progression. It’s always fun to explore new mediums because there are more surprises.

Turnbull: What subjects do you paint, primarily?

SK: Most of my time is spent painting portraits, where the face is the main focus. However, I’ve always enjoyed painting clothing. In fact, sometimes my favourite part of a portrait painting can lie within the person's attire.

Turnbull: What was the process of painting our exclusive Turnbull shirt?

SK: Normally, within the context of a portrait, the clothing is where I get to be a little looser with my mark making. However, in this case the process was more akin to painting a face because achieving an accurate ‘likeness’ of the shirt was essential.

Turnbull: Who would you regard as your inspiration(s) behind your work?

SK: Everybody in my life plays their part.

Turnbull: What were the challenges of using gouache paint for this?

SK: Though I’d not painted with gouache before, I was familiar with acrylic and watercolour. As with both of those mediums, achieving your desired marks before they dry is always the biggest challenge.

Turnbull: Where do you like to visit most when stocking up on art supplies?

SK: All art supply stores are joyful places because their walls of materials can make you feel like anything’s possible. If I had to pick one though, I’d go with Jackson’s in Hackney.

Turnbull: How would you describe your personal style, both in art and style?

SK: My Grandfather used to say, “you’re not properly dressed until you’re wearing a tie”. I think this is a great mantra for life, not just a standard of how to dress, and so I would describe my style (in both instances) as ‘making an effort’.

T&A Editorial Team

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