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Carolyn Massey // Lyle & Scott

The menswear designer on leaving her own label behind to reinvigorate the Scottish knitwear brand founded in 1847

How do you stay fresh and relevant while turning into an established designer? It seems all the creatives we read about are either young fire-starters, fresh out of college, or iconoclastic veterans with a lifetime's worth of experience. It's tricky... but it can be done - as proven by London-based menswear designer Carolyn Massey, the new Head Designer at Lyle & Scott. Having shown at London Fashion Week for years as part of Topshop's NewGen award, the RCA graduate dismantled her eponymous label a few seasons ago to focus on her consultancy business. A couple of exciting projects, like last year's ASOS collaboration, must have reignited her desire to produce a full collection again - but this time under another name, and with a team of people working for her.  

The fit is perfect; a Scottish heritage brand rooted in British sub-cultural movements and a in-depth menswear designer capable of tapping in to the story and history of the brand. Founded in 1847, Lyle & Scott and its Hawick-based factories, will provide the designer with the knowledge and craftsmanship to produce a qualitative collection, plus enough tradition and heritage for Massey explore and develop - both herself and Lyle & Scott. The fact that one of London's own menswear designers got the job is important, allowing our young talent not only to grow up and mature as designers but also showing them that there is somewhere to apply that creative output.

Dazed Digital: How did you hook up with Lyle & Scott?
Carolyn Massey: It all came together through introductions from Centre for Fashion Enterprise and Stephanie Churchill PR. Initially it was just meant to be a collaboration but it developed in to something bigger and here we are!

DD: What attracted you to Lyle & Scott?
Carolyn Massey:
I completely understand the youth culture element associated with the brand, it's something I really love about the brand and its aesthetic, that sort of Saturday night kinda guy from my hometown.

DD: What bits are you looking forward to the most?
Carolyn Massey:
 There's lots of untapped material to use, and a really great archive in Hawick. I will be looking at that and see how I can use that to push the brand forward.

DD: What do you hope to bring to the label?
Carolyn Massey:
I want to focus it a lot more and make sure that the two lines, Vintage and Heritage, make sense next to each other. There's so much scope here, so much to get from the roots of the brand that I can build on.

DD: How would you define the two strands of Lyle & Scott?
Carolyn Massey:
 Vintage is younger, quite polo-based - it's accessible fashion! Heritage, though, is aimed at the older guy, he who is a bit more discerning and cares a bit more about what he wears.

DD: Did you have a relationship with the brand before you took on the job?
Carolyn Massey:
It had a quite iconic rise to fame through its links to music, and I knew if from the 'Curated by Lyle & Scott' programmes. Plus I used to actually sell it years ago when I was working in an indie in Bristol!

DD: Is there any common ground between your own namesake label and the Lyle & Scott collections?
Carolyn Massey:
Yes, I think so, there's a wish to make honest, real and accessible clothes and garments here that I recognise from my own label. With the Heritage line, there's a sense of craftsmanship and history, and it all ties in what I did.

Photo Assistant: Jay Maude