Rowing Blazers has launched its autumn/winter 2020 collection, and it’s a tribute to Princess Diana and the early ‘80s.
The collection, which is made entirely in Great Britain, Europe, and the United States, includes ’80s-inspired French terry sweats and tees; deep-pile Sherpa “jockey” fleeces; rugby shirts inspired by climbing culture and Dutch student societies; patchwork tweed that’s either punk or professorial; guards-stripe blazers and trousers; a trad-meets-street split tweed bomber and matching pants; and a red-yellow-navy-green colorblock wool flannel suit. The collection also includes collaborations with several British designers closely associated with the late Princess of Wales.
For one of these collaborations, Rowing Blazers brings back the iconic “sheep sweater” – a red knit jumper emblazoned with rows of sheep (including one black sheep) – famously worn by Diana and originally designed by two young women in their twenties, Joanna Osborne and Sally Muir, in 1979. Their label, Warm & Wonderful Knitwear, began with a market stall in London’s Covent Garden, but shot to fame in the early ‘80s when Lady Diana Spencer began wearing one of their sheep jumpers to her fiancé Prince Charles’ polo matches. David Bowie, Andy Warhol, and a string of other icons of the era were also early Warm & Wonderful customers.
“As artists, we’ve always identified with black sheep ourselves: because of a recessive gene, black sheep are born with black wool in flocks of otherwise white sheep (in a flock of a hundred, there might only be one black sheep!),” said Osborne and Muir. “Since Diana’s first public appearance in one of our bright red sheep jumpers — at a polo match in 1980 — she and the design have been inextricably linked.”
The pattern has been copied from time to time, but Osborne and Muir have not produced the original since 1994, until now: with a collaborative label, “Warm & Wonderful for Rowing Blazers,” the famous sweater is back.
Another iconic Diana knit – a soft pink and white sweater with the cryptic phrase “I’m a luxury” blocked out across the front – also forms part of Rowing Blazers’ fall/winter ‘20 collection. The original was produced in several colorways during the 1980s by British designer George Hostler and his compatriot Gyles Brandreth, a writer, broadcaster, and sometime member of the British Parliament. Princess Diana and Elton John were among the duo’s devotees.
“Both of these sweater designs have been copied or referenced by others over the years (sometimes without crediting or acknowledging the original designers). But collaborating with the original designers is exactly what makes this so special to me,” said Jack Carlson, creative director of Rowing Blazers. “I can just picture Joanna and Sally in their twenties, selling their jumpers to Sloane Rangers, pop stars, and royalty. I think there’s a lot of nostalgia in the air right now, and of course a great renewed interest in Diana’s style in particular. When I was little, in the early ’90s, my family lived in Hampstead in north London, and my mother had one of the original sheep sweaters. It looks as great now as it did then. The timing couldn’t be better for Rowing Blazers to bring these iconic designs out of the archives with the brands and designers who originally created them.”
In addition to the sweater collaborations, the collection also features a graphic capsule emblazoned with the infamous “Are You A Preppie?” poster, first designed by ’90s comedy director Tom Shadyac when he was a UVA student in 1979, and two special edition Sperry Top-Sider CVO sneakers: one in a navy and natural mismatch canvas; and the other in Rowing Blazers’ signature stripe.
The sweaters will retail for $295, and other pieces in the collection will retail for $48-$795.
Rowing Blazers’ autumn/winter ’20 collection, including the Warm & Wonderful sheep sweater and Gyles & George “luxury” sweater, is now available at rowingblazers.com, Rowing Blazers’ New York flagship, and Selfridges London.