Jonathan Saunders for Lyle & Scott collection: Much more than just golfing attire

After winning plaudits for his innovative use of colour, the Scottish designer is lending his talents to Lyle & Scott – proving that the heritage brand has much more to offer than golfing attire

To say that Jonathan Saunders designs in glorious Technicolor is something of an understatement. Born in the late Seventies just outside of Glasgow, Saunders has spoken about the lack of colour in his childhood – thanks to the industrial landscape and his strict Jehovah’s  Witness minister father.

The latter approved  of his son’s chosen course of study – a BA in product and furniture design at Glasgow School of Art – but the love for colour soon took over and Saunders transferred to the respected institution’s printed-textiles course. Upon graduation he moved to London, where he worked towards an MA in the same subject from Central Saint Martins.

In 2002, his MA graduate collection of printed kaftans was an eye-catching hit, earning him a distinction and landing him a commission designing prints for Alexander McQueen’s spring/summer 2003 collection. In 2003, he created his self-titled line of womenswear while still designing prints for Christian Lacroix, Emilio Pucci, and Chloé during Phoebe Philo’s tenure, adding menswear to his roster for autumn/winter 2011. Over the years, he’s been rewarded with Lancôme’s Colour Design Award as well as accolades from Elle, GQ, and both the British and Scottish Fashion Awards, while Kate Middleton, Michelle Obama and Victoria Beckham have been spotted wearing his designs. Saunders, then, is what you might call hot property. Scottish designer Jonathan Saunder designs a collection with Lyle & Scott

So it’s no surprise that Lyle & Scott called on the designer’s many talents for a new collaboration, just one of a series of exciting projects to celebrate its 140-year anniversary. To some it’s a brand best known for making golfwear favoured by gentlemen of a certain age, but for Saunders, “Lyle & Scott always suggested a reference to the indie scene – think Ian Brown and Damon Albarn, and of course I wore it too. It’s such an iconic Scottish brand, which was something I wanted to channel when creating the collection. To me, Scotland signifies industry, work ethic and innovation – I’m clearly patriotic!”

And the work ethic behind Saunders’s collection is hard to question – while some designer collaborations amount to little more than one or two pieces with a print recycled from a past collection, this is a far more fruitful project, boasting 26 pieces including shirts, trousers and footwear, as well as the polo shirts and knitwear that the brand is most famous for.

“I was really inspired by Peter Saville’s artworks and traditional iconography that was translated in a sort of op-art way,” says Saunders. In layman’s terms, his experimental use of classic diamond prints, polka dots and stripes in vibrant colours, at once creates both a harmony and a sense of visual discord that is insubordinate and exciting.

“I definitely don’t see this collection being worn in a preppy way with rolled-up chinos,” Saunders says, perhaps rebelling against the red-trouser crowd who happily accessorise a Lyle & Scott polo shirt with bouffant hair and a smug sense of privilege, without understanding the roots of the label. “It’s a collection that can be worn with baggy jeans – the customer wearing it would be quite cool and bold, whilst remaining traditional.” Jonathan Saunders for Lyle & Scott collection

For Lyle & Scott the decision to work with Saunders was an easy one – his brand has gone from strength to strength since he debuted his menswear line, thanks to the designer’s signature use of colour, pattern and graphic prints, which in turn links back to the brand’s 1960s heyday. He’s channelled this style with great aplomb, including in his own personal favourites, the spotty polo shirt and the bold striped sweater. Those who are less brave might opt for shirts with contrasting colour details or plain-looking polo shirts and jumpers – some with patterns restricted to the back. Even the brand’s golden-eagle logo has had an update to reflect the colour palette of the collection.

Maintaining that balance between the existing brand’s blueprint and the guest designer’s signature is often tricky during such collaborations, but Saunders was keen to be respectful of the source material: “It’s important to keep integrity to the brand I am collaborating with, while bringing in my own designs and experience. It’s especially important when I’m working with a brand with such a strong identity like Lyle & Scott.”

And Saunders should know how best to deal with such partnerships, with his impressive CV boasting collaborations with Joseph, Smythson and Topshop, a permanent line for Debenhams’ Edition range, and a two-year stint as creative director for the footwear brand Pollini. Such tie-ins and relationships are increasingly important – providing not only a source of revenue to designers who are still working to establish their business but a chance to experiment under expert guidance. Jonathan Saunders for Lyle & Scott white and blue shirt, £135

“Collaborations allow me to learn new skills, then progress as a designer by applying these new skills to my own collections,” Saunders explains. “As such, it’s important to ensure the collaborator is an innovator, and open to trying new things. Of course, they must be experienced within their field and have affinity with their brand – all qualities that the Lyle & Scott team hold.”

And of course, there’s always the hope that working with a brand as established as Lyle & Scott will lead to more customers seeking out his original designs. “Maybe,” says Saunders, with characteristic modesty. “That would be nice!”

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Front Of House Team Member

    £16500 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales & Marketing Manager

    £22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has won the award ...

    Recruitment Genius: Store Manager & Store Supervisor

    £19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Case Liaison Officer / Administrator

    £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist based in Rochest...

    Day In a Page

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific