The Kettlewell Design Journey


From the initial spark of an idea, right through to the finished design, an item of Kettlewell clothing goes through many carefully considered stages in its long journey to production. Melissa walks us through the steps…

Step 1. Researching new outfit ideas

Having looked at previous bestsellers, considered which styles work best in a particular fabric, and taken on board customer feedback, we send sketches and specifications to our factories (we’re working a year ahead with this now for AW21).


Step 2 Designing prints

Prints are a big part of each collection for Kettlewell, whether it’s geometrics for minimalists, animal print for naturals or florals for romantics. When we’ve settled on a selection of prints that work well together, we choose the colourways for the four seasonal palettes.


Step 3 Choosing colours

There’s no more important task for the design team than making sure each seasonal and tonal palette has a good range of colours to choose from. We scour page after page of Pantone books for new shades and use our trusty Pantone reader to identify any gorgeous colours we’ve spotted, before sending them off to the factory for lab dipping (you might be interested to know that we’re currently at this, and the sample stage, below, for SS21).


Step 4 Receiving samples

Having tried on the first fit samples and made any necessary amendments, the factory then sends a second sample. It’s at this point that we can decide to either go with the design, adjust it with a tweak, say, of the neckline or sleeve length, or as sometimes happens, drop it from the collection entirely. I’ll then put in the quantities per colour per size, and place my orders.


Step 5 Photo shoot samples arrive

It’s camera, lights, action – and the culmination of weeks of pre-shoot planning and model casting for our stylist Keira as the catalogue shoot gets underway. Having chosen images that show our clothes off to their best advantage, as well as some rigorous colour matching, the catalogue is designed and sent off to the printers.


Step 6 Production fabrics arrive

Next, the long, painstaking task of coding the fabrics into the different seasonal and tonal palettes begins. It’s a specialist job and a 5% difference from lab dip to production can mean that a fabric in a borderline colour can shift from warm to cool, for example, and the coding will have to change.


Step 7 Signing off pre-production samples

This is one of the most exciting – and nerve-wracking – parts of the design process. Once the sample is deemed perfect, the factory cuts and there’s no going back!


Step 8 The factory visit

Each season, I’ll visit our factories in Portugal and Turkey to check the production, try everything on, and make sure the clothes are up to the high standards our customers have come to expect. We have a great relationship with our factories and are always impressed with their working environment. Many of their employees have been with them for 20 years.


Step 9 Delivery day

AKA John’s favourite day! The new collection arrives in the warehouse. This season the deliveries will be staggered, but don’t worry, we’ll keep you updated with new arrivals in our e-newsletters.


Step 10 The collection launches

The long-anticipated collection goes live on the website and the catalogue mails. For Becky and the sales team it means one thing: busy, busy, busy. Picked and packed and collected by Royal Mail, your Kettlewell garment has come to the end of its journey and is about to find a colourful new home in your wardrobe.


If you have any colour or style requests, please leave them in the comments box below.

Annwen Collins on Dec 28, 2023 8:40 PM

I’m new to kettlewell and would love to be able have small swatches of your materials and colours. Colours can appear slightly different from on screen and on different materials.

. It’s nice to feel the textures of materials, see if shiny or Matt etc. This is what I would do in a shop.

I’d feel the weight and drape and how it felt , artificial or natural such as cottons and pure wools.

Being able to assess these things would really encourage me to buy from you.

You have such lovely designs and colours out there waiting for me.

Vicki Deriso on Oct 07, 2021 10:38 PM

Love your website and plan on buying lots of clothing. I teach dance so your styles are great for me.

I am a Winter and a "Theatrical Romantic" (Hourglass). Could you design more clothing styles/colors/patterns for that combo? Your solid color crossover top is my favorite. How about crossover tops in some patterns/colors for a Winter/Theatrical Romantic? More jackets in my color/style too. Thanks!

Jeanette Lear on Apr 22, 2021 10:31 PM

Would like to see the ribbed sweaters in more colours please.

Jeanette Lear on Apr 22, 2021 10:29 PM

Please re-stock the Lottie dress. Think it would be perfect but only grey left.

Claire Owen on Apr 08, 2021 6:43 PM

Wow I have just been introduced to your company by a stylist. I have placed my first order and very excited to have found you.

Berta on Feb 22, 2021 7:59 PM

What an amazing post. Thank you.

Here are my 'dream arricles'

A top with a narrow u shape (reasoning ... I wouldn't be flashing as much in work!)

A Kettlewell version of the JCrew pixie pant

Jenny on Feb 22, 2021 9:44 AM

Please bring back buttercup yellow, it's such a lovely color for a warm spring! I would like to see a square neck top with either 3/4 or long sleeves in buttercup yellow. I'm also hoping for aquamarine and some warm red tones. And it would be great if the tops were a little shorter too. Thank you!

Lynne on Feb 09, 2021 5:55 PM

Tops that skim not cling.

More V necks (not too low).

Colours that go with the weather (i.e. not pretty pastels when the weather is hideous.

My beloved elbow length sleeves, please.

Lulu with 3/4 sleeves and V neck would perfect.

Dina tops in in amazon and light navy with gold zips!!

Wendy on Feb 04, 2021 4:52 PM

I only occasionally buy Kettlewell as I am a larger older lady (size 18) so most styles are short and too fitted for me. Although I don't want to dress in tents , looser longer styles that skim over bottoms, thighs and ample bosoms would mean I would buy far more.

Helen on Jan 21, 2021 8:33 AM

Hello, I love your clothes but don't buy anything I have to hand wash! Looking forward to the SS21 clothes becoming available.

Eleanor Brown on Jan 08, 2021 5:53 PM

Interesting article - thanks for sharing the process.

Like others have said I would like to see a petite range. At 5ft,

I need to get a seamstress to shorten hems and sleeve length. Dresses are no use as nothing is in the right place without a shoulder lift. Works out very expensive.

Jan on Dec 26, 2020 9:53 AM

I love crop (to waist) cardigans but find it difficult to find them with long sleeves, most are three quarter length sleeves. If I’m cold enough to wear a cardi either in summer or winter I want my lower arms to stay warm too!

Madge on Dec 12, 2020 10:49 AM

I so agree with one comment that you can’t please everyone all of the time!

I really enjoy wearing your garments but many necklines are only comfortable for me with a scarf which can sometimes be too warm. I would love to see higher back empress necklines.

Thank you.

Karen Bullinaire on Nov 18, 2020 3:05 PM

So interesting. I didn’t appreciate before how clothes start their life. Most people remain blissfully unaware.

Marieke Derrington on Oct 29, 2020 6:10 PM

Really enjoyed reading this blog & the journey from idea to garment! Hearing how the garments come to life, all the thought & personal attention to detail that goes on makes me live this brand even more!

Rachel on Oct 29, 2020 11:06 AM

Very interesting article. I’m only posting this because you asked but I would love to see some items in royal/Cadbury purple. It’s a wow for me but the purples you currently offer for autumns don’t suit me. I also echo the requests below for skinny belts and a petite range!

Penny McEvoy on Sep 27, 2020 5:59 PM

I'm 5f9 and long legged (34.5 inch inside leg) so i love the maxi skirts but can't wear any of the trousers and even the culottes which aren't meant to be long looked silly... so please keep the long maxi. The soft broad waistband you did back in 2013 when i started buying is very comfortable and it would be nice to see it come back. Having maxi prints is great, and have you considered doing 3 tiered maxis with viscose prints (rather than just the floaty gauze ones)? Also maxi dresses with some shape (most brands are just columnar) and may be even worth a 50s style fit and fuller skirt to 4 inches above the ankle... OK i know I'm dreaming here, but....

Kate Hudson on Sep 23, 2020 9:48 AM

What an amazing job you all do. This blog is really interesting and a real eye opener. Loads of thanks to you and all the team.

Anne on Sep 10, 2020 10:49 AM

Thank you for this very interesting article! My wishes are: T-shirt with a normal round neckline, normal sleeved t-shirt with normal lenght, square high-low hemline in the colour Kelly Green. Also a Paris Knit Cardigan with V-neck and pockets in the colour Iris. Neutral, warm beige coloured tops would be nice.

Carol Burgess on Sep 10, 2020 10:34 AM

Love the colours and the new printed skirt but it is 37" long.which i Like to wear because of my legs I need 30/31 "at most. Trousers are the same far too long need 27" why do you not cater for short people. At the prices they are and on a budget cannot justify £79 pounds for a skirt then pay to have it shortened so can only buy tops. I would like to buy trousers and skirts I can't wear short ones because of my legs having severe varicose veins either. but I can't because because everything is too long. Not everyone is tall. On a positive note lovely range of colours and pleased to see sky blue hope you will do more styles in this colour.

Linda M on Sep 09, 2020 10:33 AM

Rosewood. I love thatcolour, but it's only available in 3 items, and all are fitted. Not my best look! I have the silky polo, but would like some cotton t-shirts, please!

Janice Clarke on Sep 08, 2020 10:45 AM

I would like to see a petite range. I am 5'2" and size 6. I can get by on your XS although not everything comes in this size and then I miss out altogether. I can take up hemlines on most things but this doesn't work on everything e.g leggings and trousers with splits at the hems - I can't cope with these. I miss out again. Also dresses with a waistline - it's in the wrong place. A lot of tops are far too long - OK if you tuck them in, but no good if you don't want to do this.

Are you understanding the problem?!

Linda W on Sep 08, 2020 10:08 AM

I love Kettlewell and always look forward to a lovely new season, but I have a request to move the labels as they seriously irritate my skin. Either that or can they be easier to remove? I’d hate to accidentally cut a hole...

Una Barry on Sep 07, 2020 9:49 PM

Longer wide legged trousers! Lauren too short!

Julie on Sep 07, 2020 8:06 PM

I would love for you to produce skinny belts in colours. I am quite small, and thicker belts don't always suite my frame when I want a belt to cinch in at my waist. I would love the ruffle skirts you have produced in past few seasons in plain colours, and a wrap tunic that gathers or ties at the waist, a bit like the v neck wrap tops you make but longer. Thankyou for giving us the option to make our suggestions.

Eleni Mastrogamvraki on Sep 06, 2020 2:38 PM

I would like to see the pippa top with a little lower neckline. In general, in my opinion lower necklines are more flattering in most women.

Christine Dalby on Sep 06, 2020 9:21 AM

You are a great firm !

Here are my suggestions:

1. A short tapered winter cardigan in great colours ( those you don’t find in the shops)

2. Winter Killer pants in a modern tapered shape with a firm hold around the stomach. I find some of your pants too flimsy around the middle.

3. The Roxy shirt jacket in a winter version !!! A bit thicker and slightly longer. Love that jacket.

Don’t be afraid to push quality materials real wool, cashmere and cotton and top notch tailoring. I think this is the theme of our time. We are tired of mindless consumerism ( buy throw out). we would

like pieces that can keep and would be happy to pay a little bit more for better quality.

Best regards Christine

Hazel Attwood on Sep 05, 2020 7:49 PM

My first ever purchase from Kettlewell was a semi scooped top in Dove grey. I still love the colour and would like other garments in this shade. Also I would like another long line Merino wool jumper.

Virginia Quant on Sep 05, 2020 5:01 PM

You note that when you visit the factories, you ' try everything on' . Does that mean only Melissa (5'10'', hourglass, I think!?), is the only size/shape person to try things on? How therefore do you know if a garment is going to suit a 5'5'' apple shape? Or, to be frank, if it fits Melissa is the garment assumed to look ok on every shape/height! Many thanks!

Kettlewell Colours: We have a range of shapes and sizes in the office - and many of usl try samples on for fit. Melissa tries things on in the factory as she can give direct instant feedback and spot any manufacturing issues.

Denise Wright on Sep 05, 2020 12:06 PM

I live in Canada. Is it possible to have the new catalog mailed to me.

Kettlewell Colours: We only mail catalogues to the UK and US but you can view the online version of the catalogue by visiting the link at the bottom of any page on the website. :-)

Helen Williamson on Sep 05, 2020 12:06 PM

Would love merino cardigan, in brick red, a warm brown, amber, teal or kingfisher, soft teal or turquoise type shade, apple green or apple jade, coral.

Also fitted Verona cardigan in similar shades. Basically cosy non bulky fitted cardigans.

Zip up fleece similar shades. Thank you for asking. X

Clare O'Loghlen on Sep 05, 2020 11:29 AM

I'm 5'2" and a size 6-8. I'm delighted that you've introduced XS for some items. Is there any chance you could also introduce a petite range?

Lizzie Wodehouse on Sep 05, 2020 11:17 AM

Very informative and interesting Blog and thank you Melissa. Please can you consider bringing back the Tasha Top from a couple of years ago? I have just two in Fig and in Olive and would dearly love a couple more. The wider boat style neckline is very flattering and the dropped 3/4 sleeves are perfect. It's a great top to wear tucked in or loose. I love mine! Although the Imogen is similar it just doesn't have that 'little something' that the Tasha has. Also.... Is that a Leopard Print long straight skirt I see you wearing? It looks lovely. Thanks and regards Lizzie

Jane Dougall on Sep 05, 2020 11:07 AM

Hi. You have the colour Pine showing on the silky roll neck style 20013 but no sizes available. I’d very much like an LL size in this colour. Will it be in stock this season? Please advise. Thank you.

Kettlewell Colours: It's in stock now!

Emma Davidson on Sep 05, 2020 10:57 AM

First, you do an amazing job! I am a golden Spring and each season look out for good neutrals in cardigans, jackets, wraps etc. With obvious exceptions, there always seems to be a lot of dark blues, chocolate browns or grey. Building in more slightly lighter warm neutrals eg, in honey or biscuit or darker shades in that arena would be great.

Ros Brown on Sep 05, 2020 10:01 AM

I would like a tunic with a cowl neck, or any top with a cowl neck. The sort of cowl that comes up higher at the back of the neck than your current type, one where the cowl part is almost a separate collar but still quite neat.

Inger on Sep 05, 2020 9:52 AM

Love your wrap dresses - great flattering fit. More in different fabric/colour please!

Eileen McKnight on Sep 05, 2020 9:42 AM

Lovely colours

EileenMcKnight on Sep 05, 2020 9:41 AM

Colours are beautiful 10

Christina Holland on Sep 05, 2020 8:12 AM

Dear Kettlewell, my body shape suits loose, short tops with a long lean under layer which is fitted at the hips. I’m disappointed that the long cami is gone but there aren’t many interesting colours in the long vest. Could you expand the colours please eg marine navy, Laguna , cassis, beetroot? Many thanks.

Patricia Adam on Sep 05, 2020 8:11 AM

As you’re already planning for AW 2021 please can I put in a plea for the Darcy V & Scoop and the semi scoop with long sleeves.

Louisa on Sep 05, 2020 7:49 AM

Do you mail out a catalogue or is it all on the website?

Kettlewell Colours: There is a US catalogue - you can request one by visiting the website and scrolling down to the bottom of the page - there is a Request a Catalogue link there. You can also view an online version of the catalogue. :-)

Eleni Mastrogamvraki on Sep 05, 2020 7:22 AM

First of all I would like to congratulate you about your collection. A color request that I have is to have the same colours of the lauren trousers with The soft square vest or sleeveless V, for those wanting to create a column effect. Thank you. Also I would love to see the lauren trousers in Sapphire and pine.

Linda M on Sep 05, 2020 5:06 AM

Of course I haven't received it yet, but I wish the Dina sweatshirt was a bit longer at the back. Also, I'd like knitwear to have ribbed cuffs with a flat seam, so short armed people like me can turn them back neatly. Thanks for asking!

JULIA MCALLISTER on Sep 05, 2020 12:54 AM

Please can we have plenty of bright pink and pastel lilacs ? Also I think I love the wrap too but haven’t tried mine on yet as waiting to receive so I’ll let you know but I love the wrap top style

And I love these colours thank you : )

Stay safe

Jules x

Lynn Nadjarian on Sep 04, 2020 11:39 PM

Melissa, very impressed withbyhe quality of yoyr garments n feedback n customer service. You cant please everyone in businesses!l, but remain true to your ideas! I am so glad I found you on Facebook. Thank you

Wendy on Sep 04, 2020 9:35 PM

Thank you for an interesting article, I enjoy knowing some of the background -after all the garments do not appear out of thin air. I have a problem with your camisoles, for me the classic is too short, the long is too long, and the lace too fancy. It seems unfair, when you already offer 3 choices, to ask for a plain, medium length, but you did ask!

Alice Readman on Sep 04, 2020 8:03 PM

Fascinating just a shame no factory in England

Audreen Fallows on Sep 04, 2020 7:15 PM

Styles that I would truly love to see would include

Shirt dress

Cotton blend shirts that have the option of buttoning all the way up

Cotton blend straight skirts that fall at least two inches below the knee

Soft merino wool crew neck cardigans (not cropped)

Would be lovely to see some items in coral (I'm a blue/ paintbox spring)

Thank you

Audreen Fallows

Barbara on Sep 04, 2020 7:06 PM

I would love to see a merino sweater or cardigan in the classic style of the new Cosy Cotton V. The crossover style doesn’t suit me sadly.

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