Tradition and innovation – The utopian paradise of Liberty Fabrics


Taking centre stage, as per tradition, in the trends for the Spring-Summer collections, are men’s shirts printed with the very personalised and recognisable Liberty Fabrics patterns.

The Xacus collection with Liberty Fabrics is enriched with iconic patterns in the Liberty tradition but with nuances that are continually being renewed to respond to the needs of contemporary fashion. From the most classic of flower patterns, offered in the colours of sun and sea, to stylised designs referencing natural landscapes from around the world, sometimes on a large scale, even featuring in the women’s shirts and shirtdresses.

A team of 20 designers are led by the Senior Bespoke Designer Adam Herbert, working with passion to research and create prints that always have great appeal and originality, following a tradition that has been handed down for over a century, sourced from the valuable archives. 

We caught up with him and asked him to tell us the secrets and the new developments in the Liberty world, from the creative department’s search for inspiration to the season’s latest products, with a few small hints about the direction of future collections and the new generations. 

Liberty floral prints have now become a status symbol and are not tied to the concept of seasonality. They are so recognisable, even by “non-insiders”, that their aesthetic value makes them extremely sought-after by lots of high-end brands. 

  • To what do you owe this success, in your opinion?

AH: At Liberty we’re incredibly proud of our heritage. Liberty has been printing its own fabrics since 1890 and we have a fantastic archive team who have organised all the artworks into a curated library for us to refer to. 

We look to our archive as a source of inspiration as well as developing new prints and ideas. We have a design studio of 20 designers and each designer has a different design handwriting. This variety of drawing styles and design approaches enables us to create collections that feel varied, exciting and surprising. Storytelling is also a big part of what we do at Liberty and each season we have themes and concepts that we use to inspire us; our job is then to tell these stories through our prints!

  • What were you inspired by for the summer collection prints? Are there specific trend colours? And can you give us a foretaste of the Fall-Winter 21-22 collection?

AH: For the Spring-Summer season, Liberty Fabrics imagines a utopian paradise. The idea of diverse landscapes then informed the season’s designs, and so we created prints that referenced tropical rainforests, spring meadows, coastal vistas and the Nevada desert to name a few. 

Colour can really change the mood and feel of a design. We often develop three or four different colour palettes that we use to create the collection. We always try and create a different mood with each colourway of a design. 

In Fall-Winter we are looking at artisanal crafts for inspiration. We’ve looked at four different aesthetic genres, from bohemian and folk crafts to the decoration in stately homes contrasting to modernist styles. Our collection reflects these different moods through the prints that we’ve developed.

  • What are the characteristics of the exclusive collection created in partnership with Xacus? Both from the stylistic point of view, and in the selection of the materials?

I think the collection that we’ve created with Xacus reflects the iconic nature of the Liberty Fabrics design studio. We have designs such as Stately Bouquet which is a beautiful detailed Rococo-style floral, painted in the London design studio, in contrast with the Mr Face design which features a bold graphic comic book aesthetic created in collaboration with a contemporary Japanese artist. 

The designs have been printed on our Tana Lawn and Piccadilly poplin; both of these bases are 100% cotton. Tana Lawn is a beautiful, soft cotton made with long staple cotton fibres. Piccadilly Poplin is a classic, fresh poplin base which has a rich construction. 

  • How important is supporting new generations of designers? Does your creative department invest in young people? Have you ever thought about capsules that look to the future with a revolutionary design?

At Liberty we’re very actively engaged in projects supporting new creatives. We sponsor international competitions as well as working with colleges on various projects. We love these opportunities; it’s a great way to connect with the next generation of designers. We’ve recently awarded the Liberty Fabrics studio award to the biggest textile show for graduates in the UK, the New Designers exhibition in London. The winner of the 2020 prize is completing a year as an assistant designer in our London design team.

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