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Take a look behind the seams...

Take a look
behind the seams...

We spoke to Mini Boden's Head of Design, Harriet Earle, for the inside track on our Wind In The Willows-inspired collection.

Our Wind In The Willows-inspired range has arrived, and with it comes a trunk-load of exciting new design details inspired by Kenneth Grahame's classic tale. We spoke to Mini Boden's Head of Design, Harriet Earle, for the inside track on the collection and some of its most characterful pieces.

Why The Wind in The Willows?

'We have a library of children's books in the studio that we look to for inspiration and The Wind In The Willows is a firm favourite. The idea of these civilised animals and their adventures is ingenious, and Mr Toad's mischief-making is very Mini Boden.'

© Copyright E.H. Shepard
From a design point of view,
there's so much to draw from in
the book: the English
countryside, the creatures living
on the river bank, the Wild
Wood, and, of course, Toad's
obsession with motorcars.

'Johnnie [Boden] and his family also have a very personal connection to the story – his children even call him Mr Toad if he appears to be showing off! And with the new musical coming to London this year as well [Mini Boden is the offical clothing partner], it felt like the right time to create a range dedicated to the story.'

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    Tell us about the journey
    from sketch to stitch...

    'The design of our prints is often one of the first things to happen.
    As with all our ranges, the Wind In The Willows-inspired prints are all hand-drawn by our team.'

    'We love vintage finds and do a lot of scouring antiques markets for inspiration, but we'd never be able to buy an existing print that would reflect exactly what we're imagining. So we're lucky enough to have a team of amazing in-house artists to do that for us!

    'These Baby Boden prints started out life as sketches by one of our super-talented designers, Laura Loveridge.'

    Laura does a lot of sketching
    from her garden at home.
    Being surrounded by nature
    is the perfect setting for
    this kind of subject matter

    'Laura has a very gentle way of drawing that's perfect for our nostalgic aesthetic. She draws with the story in mind and adds quirky details of her own to create little scenes that are then repeated across the print.'

    'We sit in meetings together and talk through what's going on in the picture. You'll hear us saying things like "maybe the animals are having a tea break so the boat house is closed". I guess we really live in the world of the story while we're designing for it.'

    'Johnnie takes a lot of interest in the development of our prints, too. He'll look closely at every detail, discussing things like what kind of tree we should use. There's so much care and attention to detail - the real meaning - in everything you see with the final design.'

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    'If you've ever tried to get a boy to wear a smart shirt you'll know it's no mean feat. So this season, we transformed a classic Oxford shirt into a Mini masterpiece. And our inspiration was Toad's love of cars.'

    We looked to vintage
    motorcars and sew-on badges
    from the 1950s for inspiration.
    Our appliqué car also has lots
    of detailed embroidery to
    make it feel extra special.

    'Details like the grosgrain "go-faster" stripe and the red triangle at the hem add a finishing touch that's very unique.'

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    The frog-casting process

    'We're well known for our pet pockets at Mini Boden. There's something very sweet and surprising about the fact that they're pockets, especially for baby. The crochet frogs in this season's range are handmade, so every one is unique to you.'

    [Yes, you SHOULD give yours a name.]

    'Johnnie was very particular about the face of our frog. We have long conversations about our animal characters because they're a big part of what makes us so unique. They mustn't be too cartoony or too realistic, but somewhere in between.'

    At the early stage of the process, we had a bit of
    a Frog Idol moment where Johnnie has to choose which
    frog had the most promise from a line-up of sketches!
    At the early stage of the process,
    we had a bit of a Frog Idol moment
    where Johnnie has to choose which
    frog had the most promise from a
    line-up of sketches!

    'From that day on, "Frog Number 6" became a well-known amphibian in the Mini design team. And then we were into the deatils like choosing whether the frog's eyes should be French knots or flat. We test our various ideas before making the final decision, so there are drawers full of crochet and appliqué animals at Boden HQ that never made the cut. Perhaps we should find a way to rehome them...'

    Disclaimer: Wind In the Willows fanatics among you might be thinking 'hang on a min, why frogs and not toads?' Well, we asked Harriet the same question and the answer is 'frogs are nicer looking than toads.'(Sorry, toads.)

    Shop the full Wind in the Willows Range

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