‘Strawberry Thief’ is probably the best known of William Morris’ designs, inspired by the sight of the thrushes stealing fruit in his garden at Kelmscott Manor . He first made a successful print of it in 1883; the Victoria and Albert Museum hold this original sample, which is not a million miles away from the lively colourway that leapt out of the pattern book and grabbed the attention of my customer on the day she chose this shirt.
“That’s the one!” she shouted – and she was right.
Morris was a teenage hero of mine, and my interest in him was the first glimmer of my love of design history. The Arts and Crafts movement was based on his hatred of industrialisation and forlorn hope that we could return to smaller scale, cleaner methods of production that preserved traditional crafts. I hope if he could have seen me toiling away in my workroom, making a one-off western shirt in his beautiful design, that he would have approved.