Tuesday, February 9, 2016

upheaval in knitwear industry

Wool and the Gang hat for Giles Deacon A/W 2014 http://www.woolandthegang.com

No, hand knitters are not being replaced by machines, that was accomplished during the Elizabethan period by British clergyman William Lee. Hybrid business models are appearing from Wool and the Gang to Unmade. And certainly the most luxurious knits will continue to be produced by hand, Hillary Rohde, Thistle and Broom and Eribe in Scotland and various knitwear companies in Norway and Denmark, where knitters work from home. A new generation of  knitters has been drafted whether working in spare time while studying at university or employed in another sector. Nothing compares to a hand knit garment or accessory. ecomodista won't dwell on the wretched spinoffs of Fair Isle impelled by Dolce & Gabbana's diffusion line DG in 2010 (like cardigans with the pattern rows woefully mismatched...)

Tech start-up and low tech cottage industry, Wool and the Gang (WATG) was founded by Jade Harwood and Aurelie Popper, creating a business model incorporating DIY and hand knit production. One may order the kit to knit oneself, or order the item already knit. Located in Dalston east London studio, a WATG culture has emerged which provides a community of over 2,000 "Gang Makers" who work in home production for the company and "whom they can call on at any time, in whatever numbers they need, to make anything from a single bespoke item to bulk order - like 250 hats [produced for Giles Deacon runway presentation A/W 2014]. In an instant they can scale their production up or down according to demand." as Tamsin Blanchard reported.

Wool and the Gang http://www.woolandthegang.com

Other hybrid knitwear companies may be found at Makerversity, situated in the partially abandoned lower floors of the 300 year old cultural centre and former palace, Somerset House, on the banks of the river Thames. Creating a workspace for 60+ entrepreneurial ventures, and where Unmade is located various business models are being created to combat stereotypes. Using coding to transform knitting machines to respond in the manner of 3D printers, Unmade essentially "prints" clothing to order, reconfiguring the process of clothing manufacturing. This process insures Unmade will not produce clothing no one wants. "It is estimated that 10% of all the clothes made in the world go straight to landfill, which, says Alun-Jones [of Unmade] is 'insane'. We seem to have lost something in mass production where you are making things for everyone, but everything is made for no one.”  This is a shocking indictment of the clothing industry, and analogous to food waste, which is being currently legislated  in the UK to redistribute food to those in need.

Monday, February 8, 2016

upheaval in fashion

Burberry ad campaign 2011 S/S
When Christopher Bailey announced an entirely new paradigm for runway presentations, other companies began to follow suit. Seasons will no longer apply, no Autumn/Winter 2017, instead the clothing will be adaptable to any season, Northern or Southern Hemisphere, for example the sleeveless trench coat. Secondly, consumers will be able to purchase the clothing displayed on runway immediately following the presentation, allowing Burberry to utilise the hype surrounding these presentations.

"We still travel around the world attending men’s, women’s and haute couture collections for months on end. We embrace social media and the internet, but the timing of this communication is out of sync with the availability of collections, which arrive many months after the consumer has seen them. We try to respond to the customer’s need for newness, but in doing so, we have created an over-proliferation of products that don’t have enough time to sell before the next collection drops, leading to waste. In doing so, we are constraining the creativity of our designers, exhausting the buyers and press, and overwhelming the consumer." 
see:  http://www.businessoffashion.com/

This opening paragraph in today's BoF Letter from the Editor (Imran Amed)  clearly addresses the environmental and economic issues confronting the fashion industry. There was an interesting study cited by BoF (different article) regarding teenagers spending on clothing, which has dropped from much higher levels 10 years ago. Of course it has, many teenagers now purchase their clothing on eBay and Etsy, primarily reusing clothing that owners no longer need. ecomodista has endorsed recycling, reusing, and reducing consumption, yet it seems much of the fashion industry does not recognize the importance of environmental and social justice issues to the post-millennial generation.