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Interview with Peter Redding of Liberty Fabrics

by Jane Lampe |

My love of liberty has literally spanned my entire life.
Growing up in Narrabri we were lucky enough to be able to buy liberty at our local fabric store, and as kids in the 80's it was very trendy to have liberty scrunchies, head bands, and of course liberty sashs around our drop waisted skirts. 
Fast forward 15 years, and living in London, I was working right around the corner from the iconic Liberty Store in Regent Street in Mayfair, and it was such a treat to walk into that beautiful tudor style building with it's amazing atrium roof, during my lunch hour. In the words of Oscar Wilde, "Liberty is the chosen resort of the artistic shopper" and after spending many hours within their walls, I agree. Their products are amazing and unique.
Fast forward another 15 years, and about 6 months ago, I was looking at ways I could wrap our Floreat gift bouquets which was both unique, and environmentally sustainable. I came up with what is now our standard wrapping - with our lovely biodegradable cellophane, and a gorgeous piece of liberty fabric wrapped around the bottom of the bouquet to hide the wet wrapping. This piece of fabric is the perfect size to make a scrunchie, or collect to make a gorgeous liberty patchwork quilt!
So this led me to my meeting with Peter Redding a few months ago, who is Head of Sales for Liberty Fabrics Australasia, who offered to fulfill a dream I never knew I had - our own Signature Floreat x Liberty print!!! 
We have interviewed Peter, who answered a few questions about the iconic brand.
What are the origins of Liberty London?

Shortly after opening on Regent Street London in 1875, Arthur Liberty became renowned for his silks. By the 1890s Liberty Fabrics was a byword for the very best of avant-garde textile design. Today, every bolt of Liberty fabric is the product of a bespoke production process: handdrawn or painted by the in-house design team in London, Soho. Transformed onto fabric at Liberty’s own Italian printing mill, near Lake Como. Liberty Fabrics are created by skilled technicians who oversee the production of over 300 different designs every year. 

The Floreat print is produced on Tana Lawn. First sold in London in the 1920s, Liberty buyer William Hayes Dorell named the famous cotton after Lake Tana, where the Egyptian cotton had been grown and discovered.

Back on home soil, the silk-like long staple threads were spun into lustrous form and printed in Lancashire using copper rollers with brilliant coloured dyes. A material was born with qualities that have sparked the imagination of generations to follow. It was, of course, Tana Lawn™.

What is the design and production process of a new Liberty Fabrics Print?

We have 12 Full time artists in our London Head office headed by Mary Ann Dunkley our design Director.

Currently, made up of two teams – one dealing with bespoke orders like yours, and the other creating two seasonal collections. The team is working on the Spring/Summer and AW ’22collections. So we are always very far ahead. 

Anna Buruma the head of Archive will  source any relevant historical details –which leads to mood and colour boards to inspire new designs. All designs are  hand-drawn or hand-painted, before being recreated on a computer, a process that takes between 12 and 15 weeks.

The next phase is, of course, to print the fabric. Since 2013 it’s been done near Lake Como.

Theodora Tana Lawn

Kenilworth Tana Lawn

 We also enjoy Capsule ranges like from Japan with Love to a new Organic classic range to special designs like Children of Liberty’ design received and did customers like the tie in with the charity ‘Shooting Star Children Hospices’

I am bias as my youngest daughter Grace worked on this with Liberty.

What led you to start working with Liberty, and what is your role there?

I used to buy Liberty fabric in my previous roles so I always knew of Liberty. I helped map out a role for China in 2011 and have been with Liberty since then and opened a office in Shanghai and have helped develop the Asia region for Liberty fabric  since.

My key role now other than Australia and New Zealand is to open markets in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia and region, finding partnerships, and was delighted to be in Cambodia late last year to welcome our first partnership in that wonderful country. 

What has been your favourite collaboration in your role at Liberty London? (other than with Floreat of course!)

So Many it is unfair to call one out I love all the amazing product we do with Sportscraft a iconic Australian brand each year to brands like the Strawberry thief who we create a special colour palette to suit the Australian climate to our work with UTS students or on a world wide level Gucci, all which help keep us fresh and relevant.

What is your favourite thing about Liberty London?

The people, we have a tremendous  CEO and MD and team like Alex Marsal our global head of sales which have helped drive us forward in 2020 a year which one can call challenging. We stepped up our internal conversations via teams / zoom and Our CEO Adil gave a update each week via video link which kept us connected to each and every turn in the business, this I think made all the difference. We are united.



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