Open Water

“This season we explored our connection to water as a source and resource,” says Head of Design Laura Shippey of our Spring Summer '23 collection, Open Water. The season explores the rhythm of the tides and the expansive nature of the sea. “Starting with early 20th-century mariners, navigating by the stars, we wanted to bring a sense of adventure and a pioneering spirit to our womenswear.” As we approach the undulating shoreline, we consider the open ocean as a catalyst for new reflections. 

Patchworked sails, knots and the ebb and flow of the tide inform the silhouettes, patterns and fabric choices. Soft workwear and smocks in calico cotton canvas are reminiscent of pieces worn by mariners and shades of deep indigo reflect the night sky and depths of the sea. “We echoed details such as knots, drawcords and ropes and considered navigational tools to create unique print designs,” Laura says. Fluidity comes through in the adaptability and easeful movement of pieces, with dip-dyed silk in inky blues and vibrant greens.

Open Water

Open Water

Artist, sailor and maker Valentine Schlegel further informs the season with a vibrancy of life at the shoreline. Later in the season we evoke the salty windswept beach and a sense of gathering together as the sun dips below the horizon, with shades of shell and coral and breezy dresses and blouses. “Valentine’s attitude to her art as an extension of her way of life – sailing, fishing and creating a space to commune on the beach – was a stimulating starting point for our designs,” Laura says.  

Our Menswear collection is particularly inspired by clothing worn by Dutch fishermen. “We looked to nautical adventurers for inspiration, referencing shawl collars from Navy jackets, while fisherman smocks inspired the wide plackets and hip patch pockets,” says Menswear Designer Catie Palmer. 

Trousers in wide-leg shapes have double pleats for a nod to vintage styles. Layering pieces for breezy weather include hardwearing waxed cotton anoraks and cable-knit sweaters. “Our knitwear pieces reference fisherman Ganseys,” Catie says, “and we explore a fresh palette of ocean blue, herb green and faded terracotta.”

Open Water

Open Water

The concept continues through our homeware collection.  “This season we look to the freedom of life close to open water,” says Head of House & Home Judith Harris. “We explore the idea of creating, using what is close to hand: remnants of pattern, beachcombed finds.” Textiles are inspired by patched sails and sunbleached colours, while ceramics have an organic feel.

Coastal life and the ebb and flow of the tide informs shapes and patterns. Shades of deep indigo reflect the night sky and depths of the sea. Pottery by Robyn Cove and Rachel Gray is hand-patterned with fluid, wave-like patterns. 

Open Water

Later in the season we evoke the salty windswept beach, collecting driftwood, and a sense of gathering together as the sun dips below the horizon with shades of shell and coral. 

“Our driftwood spoons, made by Rebecca Williams, nod to the functional objects Valentine Schlegel created using what she had around her,” Judith says. Rebecca gathers driftwood from the shoreline near her coastal home. “Each piece of wood has been tossed on the waves and smoothed by the sea on its journey."

Pieces from the collection are intended to be worn with your existing wardrobe, and be coveted for years to come. If any of your existing TOAST garments are in need of mending, our free mending service, TOAST Repair, can refresh them for the new season. You can read more about our progress and next steps to make a positive difference to people and the planet in our annual Social Conscience Report.

Photographs 6-7 by Kendal Noctor. All other photographs by Jo Metson Scott.

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6 comments

I live in Israel, next to the Sea but i grew up in NYC, also near the ocean. I once sailed on a old scooner ship off the coast of Maine and your new collection reminds me of the colors, the textiles, the styling of sweaters and anoracks. The indigo, the orange , the ecru overalls and the cotton striped Breton shirt are just fabulous. Thanks for the visuals, the videos and the stories of crafts people.

Judy 4 days ago

Beautiful photos! Where was this?

Jane 15 days ago

Reading this article and looking at the pictures made me feel calm, I could almost feel the sun on my face and that unique smell from the sea was with me. New clothing pieces are lovely, can’t wait to walk along by a harbour or on the beach wearing a new purchase. Thank you, looking out on a very cold, snowy January day your article was lifting!

Lou 15 days ago

A ever changing perspective is the open water. I’m inspired as a regular rower to put down in my work how it affects me. Water is everything. We must take care of our seas and rivers. What lies beneath is important. Thank you for such a thoughtful article .

Karen 15 days ago

Love all this! It sounds so inspiring and really hits the spot with Nature being so important to us all. But I would really like to know Where?! Which coast?! I am hoping at least that it is the UK? Wales hopefully?!

Lizbeth 15 days ago

What an inspiration to open your page to see the water! Each page invoked the sense of freedom, flow and back to nature. I appreciate how you invite nature into all your garments. I received a gift of your pyjamas and don"t want to take them off in the morning. In appreciation. Pam

pam 15 days ago