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Chanel puts Borders textile mill back on the catwalk

It's an industry that was once booming in the Borders, though more recently it's been in decline. But for one textile mill that's been operating in Hawick for more than a century, fortunes are about to be reversed.

Barrie Knitwear is now owned by fashion powerhouse Chanel, and are soon to unveil their first knitwear collection for the label in Paris.

As a result, factory bosses say they are desperate to train new staff with traditional knitwear skills.

Jenny Longden reports:


Borders textile mill to launch first Chanel collection

Lilly Collins Credit: By Karl Lagerfield

Borders based textile mill, Barrie Knitwear, is set to take the high fashion world by storm in Paris.

The company were taken over by fashion powerhouse Chanel in 2012 and they are soon to launch their first collection in France.

The mill, which dates back more than a century and uses traditional hand-stitching methods, are also looking to recruit 100 new workers.

Chanel promise 100 new jobs in the Borders

Chanel have announced they will be taking on 100 new staff in the Borders.

Bruno Pavlovsky, the company's fashion president, made the announcement on a visit to the Barrie Knitwear factory in Hawick.

He praised their efforts since the luxury goods firm took over the from Dawson International in October 2012.

"The people here have been fantastic. They have been so supportive of all the developments, working extra shifts to build this extra success and to continue that we need to find new people. We need to recruit."

– Bruno Pavlovsky, Fashion President of Chanel

The 100 new jobs would add to the existing 176-strong workforce at Barrie Knitwear.

The Barrie brand of cashmere clothing will launch next month and will be sold at 40 of the world's top clothing stores.

A dedicated boutique will open in Paris in June with a London store also being considered.

Firm threatened with closure wows on the catwalk

Just a few weeks ago a hundred and seventy six jobs at Barrie knitwear hung in the balance. Owners Dawson International had just been placed into administration. Hawick looked set to lose one of it's biggest employers unless a new buyer could be found.

In stepped one of the world's most famous designers and one of fashion's most iconic brands. On the 4th December Barrie design's formed part of Karl Lagerfeld's latest collection:

It is very important for Chanel, for our own collection, and in these shows you will see a number of clothes coming from Barries , so it is very important. But more than that I think that Barries are doing an incredible job with more than fifty customers around the world and we want to be able to continue this development.

– Bruno Pavlovsky, President of Fashion, Chanel


Barrie Knitwear takeover

Barrie Knitwear in Hawick Credit: ITV Border

A Borders knitwear company which was under threat closure has been bought by one of the world's most prestigeous designer labels - Chanel. The jobs of 180 workers at Barrie Knitwear in Hawick have now been saved.

Barrie Knitwear has supplied jumpers and cardigans to the French fashion label Chanel for more than a quarter of a century. In August its parent company Dawson International went into administration because of problems with its pension liabilities.

Chanel haven't said how much they've paid for the company but its President said the acquisition was all the more natural because the factory had worked for them for more than 25 years. The knitwear they make includes Chanel's iconic, two-tone, cashmere cardigans.

Chanel says it confirms their commitment to traditional expertise and craftsmanship A spokesman for the GMB Union said the announcement was really good news and lifted the uncertainty for the highly skilled and productive workforce.

Scottish Conservative Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP John Lamont said: "This is fantastic news and will come as a great relief to all the employees at Barrie Knitwear who have been waiting nervously for news for over two months now.

“When Dawson International announced they were to enter administration the first priority had to be to secure the future of Barrie Knitwear, and I am delighted that this has been achieved.

“I know that KPMG had been working hard to secure a buyer, and it's great that they have found one in Chanel.

“Chanel is a world famous company, that operates on a global scale, and with Barrie Knitwear in their ownership I am confident that the future of the firm is safe for the foreseeable future.

“I now look forward to seeing Barrie Knitwear continue to go from strength to strength and hopefully provide more local jobs in the future.”