1st July 2013, London
Today I've been catching up with emails, bills, cleaning, food shopping and all that stuff that sometimes you wish you had a smart robot to take care of. I was browsing the Internet, looking for some images that I find inspiring and that I either store on Pinterest or on a folder on my desktop, when I bumped into an image of graduate fashion week's winner Thea Saunder's work.
For those of you who are not familiar with her, Thea is a knitwear graduate from Nottingham Trent University and the colourful collection she presented at fashion week was inspired by tiles. I saw her catwalk show a few weeks ago and I actually really liked it, but today, for some reason, not only I liked it even more, but it made me think about the future of knitwear.
Looking up closely at her work, it's easy to say that Thea has used a great variety of techniques that can only be learnt through the pain and frustration that it takes to learn how to knit. We are all perfectly aware that such skills are impossible to transfer commercially, and despite all the technological advancements that have transformed knitwear production in the past few decades there is still a great beauty in handcrafting, in working with fabric using your own hands rather than a mouse and a computer screen.
In most our social realms, money is unfortunately the validator for success: if something doesn't sell or doesn't generate any profit, then it's not good and I've been thinking about what's going to happen to all those artisanal skills that cannot be commercialised because they either take too long, or new machines aren't simply able to work in that old manner.
Designers simply will not need to know them, in the same way as a knitwear designer today doesn't need to know how to knit to be able to work. And the less you know, the more boring knitwear will become. I have also noticed that most students these days are very concerned about finding work after college (I was as well!) and this constant worry has a negative impact on their creativity and their willingness to experiment and push their work in directions that they will not probably be able to do again in industry, and in turn I have seen professionals not taking interest in the work of some particular students because it was "too out there" or "not enough like our brand", assuming that those particular young graduates would be so one dimensional and unable to produce something a bit more toned down.
With the double dip recession over (George Osborne will be finally pleased to hear that!), we are already encouraged to start spending again, and I wonder if this crisis really has taught us anything at all. If anything, we should have learned that spending our lives over producing and over consuming is not the answer and I really hope that more young designers will accept their creativity and passion for their crafts (and not money or the need to find a good job) as a motivator. In turn, I hope that more consumers will realise that the beauty of fashion is also in the appreciation of the love, the craftsmanship, the dedication and the passion of the designers: good clothes needn't be haute couture, and Primark definitely isn't the answer!