When it comes to the fashion industry, there’s a lot of talk about the finished product but not so much banter about the process. Universal Works has always wanted to have an open conversation with customers about how we do what we do – which is the reason behind this new series that unlocks the journey of our garments, from design to delivery. 


In order to get the inside intel, we picked the brains of UW founder, David Keyte and asked him to walk us through the thinking behind part one of the story. For David, It All Begins with The Fabric.  


“I’ve always been obsessed with clothing, but I guess it’s actually fabric and colour that began the obsession. Being made to wear a pair of ‘hand-me-down’ green corduroy shorts as a 7 year old made me never want to let anyone else choose my clothes – except me.  Although now, looking back, green cord shorts sound kinda cool…

Anyway, fabric was something that moved me and opened up my mind to other life choices. Fast forward to a few years later and that love of clothing took me into the industry, where I was lucky enough to see the designer I was working for (at the time) choosing cloths and yarns from some of the best mills in the world. I was hooked. 


I had no formal training. I came at the process from my own perspective, which always begins with the fabric. I choose cloth first and then work on the silhouette and shape. Maybe it's not the right way round, but it's the way I work.  I find great fabrics first, (at least, I hope I do) and then work out the best thing to do with that cloth. It’s a method that has worked for us so far, so I am not going to change anytime soon. 


Every year, we usually go to two major fabric fairs in Paris, Milan and then a smaller London trade show. We normally travel to mills in Portugal, Japan, India and the U.K. to develop our own fabrications, but that’s been impossible during the Covid restrictions. It’s hard to choose fabrics over Zoom! Thankfully, we’ve been able to rely on the solid relationships we’ve made with mills over the years and have still managed to develop and find new fabrics. We haven’t let the lockdowns stop us finding the best things we can. We’ve just adapted how we work and still managed to design and produce some useful, desirable and dare I suggest, beautiful clothing.”


Alfresco fabric meeting with British Millerain .