“To Emma and I, Gushlow and Cole is more than just a brand – at it’s heart is our lifelong friendship, a strong sense of family and a business born of determination and an entrepreneurial British spirit!” – Katrina Cole
Together, Emma and I have been surrounded by fashion for as long as we can remember. Having come from a long heritage of dressmakers, tailors, knitters and ultimately shearling manufacturers our path into fashion design was pretty clear. As teenagers in the late 1980s and early ‘90s our sense of style was heavily influenced by London’s club, music and fashion scene. We would spend most Saturdays rummaging through vintage at Kensington Market, buying Helen Storey at Hyper Hyper and Vivienne Westwood on the Kings Road.
Encouraged by the creativity and bustle of my father’s leather and shearling factory, we decided to study design at The London College of Fashion before apprenticing under my father at Cole of Kent in traditional shearling manufacture. It was not long before we started to push the traditional boundaries of construction. Our innovative cricket ball stitch was picked up by Amanda Wakeley and used throughout her Spring Summer collection of 1996 and Nicole Fahri menswear the year after. With the British manufacturing industry in decline, this brought in much needed work to the factory. Being ever resourceful we started experimenting with the off cuts from the factory floor, which led to Nicole Fahri buying our first homewear designs. We wanted to combine our young London style with cool yet commercially desirable products, so with an enterprising spirit we took our experimental designs to Spitalfields market. It was these designs that went on to form our first luxury accessory collection after we were invited to show during London Fashion Week, and thus Gushlow and Cole began. With the increasing demise of British manufacture at this time, my father’s factory closed in 2003. But with our first orders from department stores in Paris, Tokyo and New York we set up two machines in his garage and began to sew the collection ourselves.
We have come a long way since then. Now, overlooking London on the North Downs of Kent, we work closely with our growing family of craftsmen and women, who trust in their future through our commitment to British manufacture. We pride ourselves in having a hands on approach to every aspect of our business. The success of our creative partnership comes down to the unique understanding we have for one another. We have very different attributes and design qualities, yet our aesthetics are always in sync. Although innovation is crucial, my father passed down to us his love and understanding of shearling, a meticulous eye for quality and a passion for traditional british make. These qualities are inherent within every one of our pieces and our brand philosophy has always been shaped by these roots we share. To Emma and I, Gushlow and Cole is more than just a brand- at it’s heart is our lifelong friendship, a strong sense of family and a business born of determination and an entrepreneurial British spirit! Katrina Cole