The Story: The British Silk Collection
Discover the artistry behind Liberty’s British Silk Collection, rooted in historic silk production
The British Silk Collection celebrates Liberty's long-standing love affair with homegrown artisanship. Printed onto pure silk twill at a historic textile mill in England, the all-new ties and pocket squares feature vintage Liberty designs drawn from the factory’s own private archive. The factory is based in Macclesfield, Cheshire – the ancestral home of British silk production. Having worked with them for several decades, here we delve into the fascinating story behind the new collection.
A Hidden Archive
Adamley lies in a picturesque rural valley, close to the redbrick market town of Macclesfield – this Victorian silk mill uses both ancient and cutting-edge printing techniques to craft its bespoke, small-batch collections. The local region has been world-renowned for its silk-working skills for several centuries, with the mill’s technicians drawing on a vast wealth of intergenerational knowledge to create these luminously multihued pieces – all drawn from original 20th century Liberty designs.
At Liberty we have always been proud to work with the finest British talents in arts and craftsmanship – and so deep-rooted is our connection with Adamley that the mill even holds its own private collection of Liberty print designs. Untouched since the ‘70s, the archive has been revisited for the very first time for the British Silk Collection. The Liberty team hand-picked a series of prints from this pristine capsule of vintage designs, which were then recoloured into modern interpretations.
A Sense of Local Pride
A proud history of textile production is woven through the very fabric of the culture in Macclesfield – in ‘Silktown’ (as it is locally known), you might drive down the Silk Road while listening to local radio station Silk FM, or watch the Silkmen play a match while drinking a pint in the Silk Trader pub.
The supreme quality of silk production in the region comes from Macclesfield’s surrounding natural landscape. It lies within a valley, where the mountainous Peak District provides ample rain and atmospheric moisture, and the river Bollin flows with soft, pH-balanced water. These organic elements enhance the silk’s natural characteristics of softness, lustre and flexibility, while also ensuring the dyes can penetrate deeply and evenly throughout the fabric for a pristinely printed finish.
Across the Generations
Skills have been safeguarded through the years at Adamley – the mill continues to use traditional block-printing and screen-printing techniques, alongside the addition of cutting-edge digital technologies which allows for the printing of almost-photographic designs. A printer and layer team demonstrate traditional screen-printing, in a technique which is still used to this day for specialist projects. Our guide, Sales Director Steve Clayton, has worked in the silk industry for 30 years – just like his father before him, and now his son after him. “It’s in my blood”, he explains.
Throughout the interior of the mill there is a fascinating juxtaposition of new technology and proud, venerable heritage – hundreds of print designs are housed in crumbling leather-bound tomes and cardboard boxes, displayed in the same room as gleaming printing machinery. In the oldest part of the factory, people have been washing and dying textiles for 200 years – through the windows are views of hills and sheep that have remained almost unchanged since then.
Heritage Meets Modernity
Adamley only works with natural fibres, and the British Silk Collection is no exception to this rule. Crafted from the finest silk twill, our neck ties feature a range of fresh floral and ditsy layouts, while the pocket squares have a graphic impact that pays homage to the factory’s older woodblock printing styles. Exuberantly retro motifs are elevated by a clean-cut modern colour palette – the perfect balance of vintage and contemporary.
The collection’s silk twill is printed, steamed and washed within the walls of the factory, with each piece later finished by hand by experts in England. All designs in the British Silk Collection are named after local Cheshire towns and villages – as Sales Director Steve Clayton explains: “It’s vital that companies like Liberty keep this industry and this area on the map. What we’re doing now is not only championing Macclesfield, but also Wilmslow and Knutsford, Widnes and Winsford – a local thing is being recreated, which is great”.
It’s vital that companies like Liberty keep this industry and this area on the map... A local thing is being recreated, which is great.