Skin and Threads is the result of Penelope Cohen and Emma Gathercole’s singular vision to create modern, polished basics for those who value style, quality and the environment. Admirable qualities I’m sure you’ll agree, but it’s their approach that is arguably the more attractive ingredient to their success.

Since their inception in 2003 they have seen their brand go from strength to strength, and their identity become stronger. Skin and Threads is now synonymous with creative lifestyle pieces for women. But it’s not just the clothes; part of their success is their philosophy of soft power, otherwise known as the gentle art of persuasion. Frankly, these days a little more wouldn’t go astray.

In this industry of brash personalities, clichés and stereotypes Cohen and Gathercole recognised the power in a job well done. Who needs to shout when the product can do it for you? Who needs to convince when the pieces do the talking? If you’re doing your job right you shouldn’t need to talk about it at all – that is the soft power that’s in use here, and as a heavy-handed segue to the pieces themselves, the softness can be seen not only in Skin and Threads’ approach to fashion but in the materials used as well: merino wool, soft cotton jersey and wonderfully luxurious cashmere. If you’re reading between the lines the message is that comfort and style need not be mutually exclusive. Take a peek at any of the label’s look-books and you’ll agree.

With the opening of their first boutique, Skin and Threads are at the forefront of the new wave of retail. With an already well-established online presence, the new store has been designed “as a welcoming space, resembling a home rather than a retail store”. And it’s likely that as the trend for brand ‘happenings’ and experiences grows we’ll start to see more labels following Skin and Threads’ lead, and treating their spaces like exhibits and interactive zones, leaving the business end of the deal to increasingly take place online or through specially designed apps for use on your phone.

Contrary to what you might think, this actually heightens intimacy and unity as you’re drawn into the world that’s been created for you to enjoy, with the ‘dirty end’ of commerce removed from the picture. Now, of course, you can buy from the store and believe me it’s not discouraged; the point is that you ‘experience’ the brand, you remember your time and ultimately make it part of your own philosophy.

Skin and Threads, the store, was designed by Michael Barraclough and Peter Forsyth. Taking on board the brand’s philosophy, sustainable Tasmanian oak is used extensively throughout, making the connection from busy High Street, Armadale, to cool, calm and collected HQ a smooth transition. Beautiful carpentry and joinery has been creatively utilised to reveal very welcome glimpses of greenery – specially planted for the store – outside each of the windows. The effect is twofold: firstly, it’s comforting and peaceful; second is the subliminal nature of soft branding.

It’s a pleasure to know that there are people and companies like this. On one hand they are open arms, inviting and caring, ethical and driven by authentic motives. On the other, they are casually intelligent, fully embracing technology and the idea of using the brand experience to bring us closer together. This is an emerging trend. The future is all about our sense of community and togetherness; it’s definitely a welcome evolution.

See you there.


My picks (for my girlfriend)

- Merino wool box button dress in blue night. The colour is enough, the cut is the clincher.

- Cashmere round neck sweater. Any colour. Because everyone should have a cashmere sweater and this is a great cut.

- Merino wool bedroom cardigan in huckleberry. Great colour and for rugging up this winter this is a hell of a lot better than that dirty old pyjama top you refuse to throw away even though you wouldn’t answer the phone in it let alone the front door.


Skin and Threads - 1104 High Street Armadale