The strong connection with fashion design: interview with Susan Wilson


James Cropper, British master papermaker, teamed up with influential fashion designer Edeline Lee to deliver the paper for the set of her Autumn-Winter 2016 show at London Fashion Week. The show took place last February at The Vinyl Factory and marked the designer’s second collection to be exhibited at the prestigious event.

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Paper making and fashion share a long and fruitful history. From designers’ sketch pads and paper patterns to catalogues and luxury packaging, the two industries are united by their shared artistry and love of the creative process. Now, a specialist paper maker is helping fashion houses to explore the essence of their brands while pursuing a commitment to sustainability. With more than 170 years of experience in the paper industry, James Cropper has unrivalled knowledge of the paper needs and challenges faced by the fashion industry.

Susan Wilson, Luxury Packaging Director from James Cropper.
Susan Wilson, Luxury Packaging Director from James Cropper.

James Cropper and his relations with the fashion world

James Cropper, based in the tranquil setting of the Lake District, England, is proud of its connection to fashion – producing distinct, custom-made paper products for many of the world’s leading art galleries, designers and luxury brands. It sponsors numerous respected artists and exhibitions, including events at NYCxDesign, YSL at The Bowes and the fabulous ‘Paper Bar’ at London’s ICA for Thomas Pink’s Autumn/Winter 2015 collection. Susan Wilson, Luxury Packaging Director from James Cropper, explains what the fashion industry wants: «Trends in paper can vary as widely as the catwalk. The crucial thing is to be creative while simultaneously establish a recognisable brand which remains consistent across all products.» And many brands are aware of how paper can be used innovatively to enhance their brand.

The collaboration with Edeline Lee

James Cropper often collaborates with influential designers to realize their vision. The specialist paper maker recently worked with Edeline Lee to deliver a stunning set with a difference for the Canadian-born fashion designer’s Autumn/Winter 2016 show at London Fashion Week show.

Lee, who has apprenticed in the studios of the likes of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, chose James Cropper’s beautiful and tactile papers for the scenography for the show, which took place on 19 February at The Vinyl Factory, marking the designer’s second collection to be exhibited at the prestigious event. Kyung Roh Bannwart, the artist behind the scenography, is renowned for employing various media, including sculpture, sound light and objects, to build structure and create an emotional and physical experience. She created a chequerboard pattern using paper from James Cropper’s ‘Black’ and ‘Ambassador’ ranges, while height was fashioned out of mounds of predominantly white shredded paper interspersed with bright accents from ‘Vanguard’ colours, which reflected an abstract take on colours in nature. The colourful and playful abstract paper shapes created a landscape behind the models that was anchored by the powerful black and white base to the scheme.

Cropper-Edeline: paper and fashion unite on the catwalk

Speaking of the collaboration with James Cropper, Edeline, who has gained international recognition for her dynamic fashion presentations said: «I was inspired by the idea of simplification and going ‘off the grid’ in this collection. We came up with the idea of creating a surrealist landscape for the models to travel, made of the purest, simplest material: paper. Over the years, I’ve learnt how every detail counts when it comes to creating luxury, which is why I wanted the paper for this set to come from a like-minded brand for which quality is paramount. All my designs are made by hand in England, so James Cropper, as an innately British company with an impressive heritage, was a perfect match.»

The choice of paper

The paper used for Edeline’s show has been recycled, in alignment with James Cropper’s dedication to sustainability within the paper sector. A state of the art reclaimed fibre plant, opened by HM The Queen in 2013, exemplifies the company’s sustainable production methods and commitment to creating an ever growing range of recycled materials. While James Cropper has long been recycling paper for luxurious brochures and designer gift boxes, the unique reclaimed fibre plant allows it to turn previously non-recyclable plastic-coated paper into bespoke paper products, which can be re-used for the fashion industry’s packaging and paper requirements.

Sustainability, quality, novelty… what is fashion interested in?

What’s more important – sustainability, quality or brand recognition? Here’s Susan Wilson’s answer: «Securing a sustainable supply and reducing the carbon footprint are now hugely important targets for all brands and businesses. There’s enormous appetite in the fashion industry to use sustainable packaging and paper for catalogues and clothes tags – which are all part of the customer experience. In fact, for some brands it becomes an important part of their image. However it’s also imperative to maintain brand recognition and credibility. Brands are beginning to realize that ‘sustainable’ or ‘recycled’ doesn’t have to mean low-quality. The luxury feel can be created from reclaimed fibre so it ticks all the boxes».

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Canadian-born, London-based Edeline has gained international recognition for her dynamic fashion presentations, which have the immersive quality of film and live performance. She has apprenticed in the studios of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, and worked at Zac Posen in New York and Rodnik in London, where she was head designer. She counts celebrities Alicia Vikander, Taylor Swift and Solange Knowles among her fans.


James Cropper are prestige paper innovators based in the English Lake District, supplying distinct, custom-made paper products to many of the world’s leading luxury brands, art galleries and designers. Celebrating 170 years of high quality paper production in 2015, the business has been carefully stewarded and nurtured by six generations of the Cropper family and is renowned globally for individual expertise in colour, dedicated responses to the most challenging custom projects and award-winning commitment to the highest standards of sustainability.
A network of global sales and production facilities from Europe to the Far East provides local customer service to international clients, while its historic base in the village of Burneside retains nearly two centuries worth of papermaking expertise.

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