Like many notable designers, Becky French, founder of Marwood, got her start at Ralph Lauren. She was hired in 2003 as a design assistant for RL Purple Label and then moved back to her home in London to work in women’s for Aquascutum. When she left Aquascutum, French moved into an artist’s studio in East London. She recalls, “I was there for three years and it was the most creative environment. I loved every minute of it—even the freezing winters with no heat!” It was there she decided to launch Marwood. “I wanted to start something that would allow me to explore my personal love for graphic patterns and color.” She began with ties in January 2011 and now the collection includes scarves, pocket squares, bow ties, suspenders and mohair socks—all made in the U.K. from fabrics like silk, wool and traditional Leavers lace. Marwood is sold at U.S. retailers like Maxfield, Union LA, Saks, Bloomingdale’s, East Dane, Mr. Porter, and at stores in the U.K., Japan, Hong Kong, Russia and Nigeria. Retails range $85 to $350. A best-selling style from spring 2014 was the harlequin tie in a silk jacquard created from hand-drawn ink patterns. She’s also working on special projects with artists and photographers for seasonal Marwood collections.
French hopes to open a Marwood store in London—and then one day in New York and Tokyo. “That would be pretty amazing,” she dreams. “But it’s hard to see much further ahead than that at the moment.” When asked her greatest accomplishment she says, “Making luxury products in the U.K. that are made to last, and not contributing to the throw-away culture.” But she admits, “Making handmade, durable products that are also affordable is not often achievable.”