If nothing else, a giant padded silk strawberry will get people talking. It’s a chunky, tactile thing, comforting to cuddle in its own way; making you want to run your fingers over its curves and dimples.
It’s actually a very grand berry. This fine fruit is made from unique textured Strawberry Silk, a sumptuous fabric created by the new Newcastle-based luxury accessories company, Always Wear Red.
Aside from finding its way to giant fruits, this touch-me, textured silk is made into the ultimate neck tie for someone prepared to pay £140 for the pleasure. Or £200 if you add in the matching pocket hank.
For lovers of beautiful things it’s a small price to pay believes Always Wear Red owner, Michael Owen.
“Our Strawberry Silk is uniquely designed and textured 100% pure silk. We only weave 350-end silk, woven just for us 70 miles south of London with every item hand-finished in Newcastle. We know of no more densely woven silk in the world. Our silk has 350 individual silk fibres in every inch giving maximum design definition, depth of colour and stability.
“We are targeting people who are buying for weddings or one-off occasions. When the knot is tied it subtly forms the shape of a strawberry”, he adds.
Entrepreneur Michael is known in the North East for launching creative businesses such as onebestway and is having a bit of fun with Always Wear Red, which he describes as, “sexy, punky with a bit of an edge”.
He takes it very seriously though and there’s more to it than a padded strawberry. A bright red umbrella in a sea of grey on a drizzly day offered the spark of inspiration for the business.
Always Wear Red (AWR) offers a range of luxury accessories, which are all, you guessed it, red. They are made in the ultimate fabrics too – as well as silk, cashmere scarves are made in workshops in Scotland alongside those for Vuitton, Burberry and Hermes.
Red is the colour of confidence, empowerment, ‘go-for-it’ attitude – as well as offering a nod to the traditional, insists Michael.
“Always Wear Red red salutes British cultural icons, specifically the post box, the telephone box and the Routemaster bus. But it is also the colour with the longest wavelength, unique because the human eye sees red before any other colour. Red has association with physical attractiveness, performance, positivity, courage, warmth, energy, stimulation, joy, sexuality and passion.”
In the same way a slash of red lipstick can help a woman take on the world, so too a flamboyant flourish of a cashmere scarf or a peek of scarlet from a pocket can add some swagger, is the message.
Michael’s business co-owners are the actor Ralf Little and creative director Zoe Rocha, daughter of fashion designer John Rocha.
In Newcastle he works alongside partner Lisa and seamstress Leslee Curle who has worked in design all her life. She hand-finishes and can personalise the AWR products.
Ralf Little is spreading the AWR message far and wide; “Ok, so I’m not known for my fashion credentials. But I have been known to wear some rather sharp suits”, he says.
“When we started to explore the idea of a fashion brand that majored on design storytelling, I was hooked. As an actor and writer, story is clearly a big part of who I am. I believe that when people choose what to wear they are telling the story of who they are or who they want to be. So we want people to wear Always Wear Red not just because of how it makes them look – but how it makes them feel, too. So the more authentic our stories are, the better.”
These ‘stories’ in every product include the limited edition ‘Oscar & Sebastian’ collection which contains Oscar Wilde’s actual signature alongside Sebastian Melmoth’s monogram. Oscar Wilde was jailed for his sexuality in 1895. When released in 1897, he reinvented as Sebastian Melmoth.
“There are two designs in the Always Wear Red Collection celebrating how much we love Oscar Wilde. We love his confidence, his achievement and his life”, says Michael.
Other bold designs include Red Camouflage and AWR’s biggest selling scarf, TYRED. This has an engineered tyre track knitted directly into it.
“Basically, one end of this double-thick, knitted, 100% pure cashmere scarf is folded and held with an invisible hand-tailored stitch. This creates a neat ‘pocket’ which, when the other end of the scarf is tucked into it, creates a perfectly symmetrical V-silhouette.”
“We found women in particularly liked this unique twist in the scarf to hold their mobile telephones, lipsticks etc,” says Michael.
The best-selling Chilli Beanie is one to add to the wish-list later in the year. At, £140 it is two-hats-in-one, extra tall, double thick, created in two reds with a solid brass ingot.
“It’s worth saying that our cashmere is knitted only after over 90% of the world’s cashmere has been rejected at some point higher up the supply chain. We only work with the 10% of the world’s cashmere that is the very, very best quality,” adds Michael.