When it comes to knitwear, choice seems to be key. In the ‘90s, there was Benetton’s array of mohair, cashmere and heavy woollen knits, coupled with some of the most forward-thinking advertising in fashion. Now we have Japan’s Uniqlo offering basic essential pieces in every color combination possible. But there’s no shortage of variety when it comes to design and here’s a set of outstanding labels whose knits are the stuff of woolly wonders.
Holland’s KIND, by the nameless Mr and Mrs Kind, is entirely made up of knitwear “projects” rather than traditional seasonal collections. Knitted dresses, body stockings and cardigans are all made from deluxe fine wools, and feature floral burst embellishments, pleated detailing and colorful woven prints. KIND’s playful pieces feature everything from marine stripes and sharks to apron-style details as well as a new line for children.
Designer Rie Yamagata has just launched a capsule collection under the label Rhie, which features textured knit dresses, flowing woven throw-overs and long, chunky cardigans in colors like chalky nude, gold, silver, ivory and black. Produced in the US and using Italian yarns, the range moves from super fine lace knits with leather combinations to more robust, tailored designs. The collection, which fuses a Parisian kind of chic wearability with Japanese attention to detail, uses texture to define knitwear to fall on the body in a more structured manner.
Central Saint Martin’s graduate Craig Lawrence has been using his seaside upbringing as inspiration for his work. His self-named label began in 2009 when the designer left the studios of Gareth Pugh to define his own style. Using self-researched knitwear techniques, Lawrence designs pieces that drape, move and accentuate the form of the wearer. Experimental materials such as foils, tapes and Kyototex (a Japanese developed yarn wrapped tightly in metallic foils) provide Lawrence’s delicate looking designs an almost untearable finish. For autumn/winter ’10, Lawrence also experimented with a looping technique, which gives a fur-like appearance that’s full of volume.
James Long’s menswear knits are a combination of cut-out asymmetrical pieces and elongated drapery finished in layered, chunky woolens. Using a number of dying techniques and full of color, his pieces give menswear an alternative to the simple pull-over. Stretched collarwork, mismatched yarn stitch and oversized sleeves are all distinctive of Long’s approach to men’s knits. Worn with his own designs or basic denim, Long’s knits are investment pieces with panache.
London-based designer Lu Flux creates pieces from salvaged, vintage and organic fabrics, using patchwork and knitting to redefine and customize every garment to fit each collection. Playful animal knit dresses, patchwork sweaters and leaf motive throw-overs are just some of the pieces that come in the autumn/winter ‘10 “Dame and Knight” collection. For men, there are also knitted knight-style head wear and bandage detail legwarmers. A little fantastical, but with some serious edge, knitwear is going well beyond the v-neck this coming winter.