A label with a global presence that stretches from Hong Kong to LA and beyond, Madeleine Thompson Cashmere actually has its roots firmly in Hong Kong. Founded by Madeleine in 2009, the fashion forward cashmere brand has made a name for itself thanks to its fierce approach to pattern and colour, directional shapes and hip girl’s take on loungewear. Just ask Sienna Miller, Kate Moss, Jennifer Garner and Michelle Monaghan, all women seen out and about regularly in the designs. Still, it’s right here, in the midst of Kowloon, that Hong Kong born and based Madeleine started and still today runs her growing cashmere empire.
The whole idea behind the brand’s offering from the beginning was to stand out from the crowd. “When I first started, I wanted to bring contemporary, chic shapes to the knitwear market. I wanted a much more directional feel, and to move away from those unflattering twinsets that were around at that time,” says Madeleine from her studio in the heart of Lai Chi Kok. “The knitwear I saw out there was either scratchy and contemporary, or it was cashmere, and completely unwearable.”
It has been that clever blend of contemporary and comfort that has put Madeleine Thompson on the map. Those bright, rainbow-adorned cashmere tracksuits seen on celebrities as they parade through airports from New York to London? Those are Madeleine Thompson. “Now, we take the fun to be had with knitwear for granted, but people didn’t use to associate colour with cashmere,” she says. “It wasn’t considered an exciting piece in your wardrobe. They weren’t blending those two ideas together.”
For Madeleine, what that blend looks like is a powerful mix of luxury and quality. This AW19, she has delivered a collection inspired heavily by 1980’s sportswear. A bold romp through colour and pattern, it’s all oversized animal prints, dogtooth printed cashmere bombers, long, retro, striped duster coats and bold colour combinations. Mondrian inspired sweaters can be worn with matching track pants, or printed bombers layered over jeans and a tee for a look that instantly smartens up everyday basics and takes them anywhere but ‘normcore.’
Being based in Hong Kong has, for Madeleine, been an invaluable asset in growing her business. “For me, living right next to my workshop, with our production based in China, means that I’ve been able to explore every idea I’ve ever had. We work with a small, family run factory whose workers we known intimately, and we have grown and learnt together. It’s all been very organic.” She takes huge pride in where her product comes from. “A few years ago, a stockist once asked if we could not put ‘made in China’ on the label, and that really bothered me. I’m very proud of our product, of where we make it and how we make it. We’ve never compromised on quality. And, I’m proud of being from here.”
For Madeleine, life as a mother of three young children running a growing business informs her collection as much has her customers do. That’s why her designs offer an easy way to inject some attitude into a look that’s still infinitely easy to wear. “Our lives, the way we live them, and the way that all the different facets of our personalities intersect are at the heart of everything I do,” she says of her all female team. “I’m inspired by the people around me. I’ve built this business by working with some very talented women, all of whom are at the top of their game.” Madeleine oversees all design and production from the studio in Hong Kong, collaborating with stylists and agents in the UK and LA to increase the brand’s reach. “I actually think it’s a really modern way to do business. We all have lots of strings to our bows, we all have plenty going on in our lives, and each one of us brings our particular area of expertise to the brand when it’s needed.”
For Madeleine, it’s a modus operandi that has more than paid off. Heading into Autumn, her brand is going from strength to strength, increasing its presence globally season on season with stockists including Selfridges, Net-a-porter, Shopbop and more. “I see no reason why comfort, ease and a straight forward approach to what we wear should mean that we have to sacrifice on the personality and vibe we want to see in our clothes and feel in our lives,” she says of what she hopes to give her customers. Put that way, an oversized leopard cardigan sounds like an extremely good idea.
CreditLead photo: Mitchell Geng