Mariza Scotch is the chief creative director at Skagen. Each season she starts with an idea that comes to life in our collections. For the Fall 2014 collection you’ll see felt being used as a signature material on everything from watches to totes (as well as a nature-inspired watch case). “Think of felt as a fabric version of leather, but with a different kind of sensuality,” says Scotch. Thinking about it this way, as a softer analog to leather’s solidity, made us wonder about the roots of this wonderfully tactile fabric and why it looks so right, right at this moment.
WHAT IT IS
Basically, felt is wool, a natural fabric made from a simple way of working with hair. But instead of weaving, in felt the wool is boiled, pressed and steamed. Repeat the process and this fluffy stuff becomes a compact and tightly structured material. “Felt is the most primal form of fabric,” Scotch explains, “the process for making it predates weaving.”
WHERE IT’S FROM
Felt-making has for centuries been a Northern European tradition. The Scandinavians, many of whom work around the sea and live in coastal towns, favor felt for its ability to stay dry and warm. And while it isn’t exactly waterproof, natural oils make it water-repellent.
WHY IT LOOKS “RIGHT NOW”
“Felt looks good now because it connects us to the earth. It’s the fabric version of soil,” says Scotch. “We project emotion onto fabric. And felt can be comforting but also remains very clean looking. On a subconscious level, we connect to felt because it connects us to something eternal.”
HOW TO USE IT BEST
“The best way to wear felt is to make it a surprise. I like to use felt as a trim material. Say you’re wearing your favorite pair of jeans, a white button-down shirt and beautiful shoes. A bag with felt detailing softens the look, but it’s still strong and graphic.”