This is an article that was in a Toronto Newspaper January 13th. 2011
” I think people want something that took time, and is perfectly imperfect.”
“Beautiful handcrafted product is appreciated in a world of mass production. It stands out and says ‘I am special.
That is my believe too…so keep on knitting and wear it proudly
Tracy Nesdoly Special to the Star
You might not think that chunky sweater Grandma gave you for Christmas is on the cutting edge of fashion, but you’d be wrong.
The handmade, mistakes and all, is having a major moment.
No less an arbiter of style and trend thanPhoebe Philo , Céline’s creative director, made news with her spring 2011 collection by sending a handwoven coat down the runway — and “embracing the artisanal” is something that style.com’s Nicole Phelps called an unintentional rebuff to the knock-off artists who copy Céline’s sleek and minimalist look.
PHOTO GALLERY: Chic-er knits The Stella McCartney spring offering, found at 119 Corbo in Yorkville, includes crochet bags and crochet-embellished tanks and even jeans, and British Vogue says “granny sweaters are big news again,” pointing to Miu Miu sweaters, See by Chloe and Marc by Marc Jacobs coats as evidence in a fashion spread that included some of the hottest It Girls in their best big and chunky knits.
Crediting them with having an unmatched trend-spotting record, style.com asked the founders of Opening Ceremony, the U.S. chain considered a clearing house for international cool, for their predictions for the next 10 years. Humberto Leon and Carol Lim opined that craftsmanship will be appreciated more and more, and often that means handcrafted: “We see American houses employing the kind of artisanal specialists like the ateliers of France. In the vein of Rodarte’s hand-knit sweaters we will increasingly see artisanal qualities in American fashion houses.”
Trend-devouring mass retailers including Club Monaco are getting in on the handmade revolution, offering chunky cardigans lovingly knit by human hands.
“Everything in fashion is so fast, and fashion is knocked off so quickly, that something hand done, a piece that you will savour forever, seems very special and worth the money,” says Toronto designer Rita Liefhebber, who included hand knits in her fall collection, and followed that up with loose hand-knit vests and tanks and hand-dyed dresses for spring. “The economy is such that when you look at a piece and know you can find something similar at H&M, you go that route. Fast fashion has the flip side – I think people want something that took time, and is perfectly imperfect.”
“I’m starting to see a lot of blogs and websites devoted to the handmade and authentic,” says Trish Ewanika, also a Toronto designer who carried Rita Liefhebber hand-knit mufflers in her Bathurst St. store. The scarves sold out sharpish, though they are not the only artisanal element in the Ewanika mix – she also carries hand-dyed silk scarves, Jensen-Conroy jewellery, which include necklaces made of crystals caught in hand-crocheted nets and Lars Andersson knits, each piece handmade and limited edition.
“I think people are attracted to the authenticity of the handmade,” says Ewanika. “Maybe it coincides with the recession, where the idea of investment dressing and having fewer pieces means you want the ones you do splurge on to be very special and truly unique.”
When Kim Newport-Mimran opened Seventy Seven, the Pink Tartan flagship last month, she included knitting kits in the product mix alongside her own ready-to-wear collection.
“I love the graphic element hand knits offer, and a hand knit is so special and luxe,” Newport-Mimran says. “And anyone can do it – my 9-year old has a project on the go and I think I’ll frame it!”
And she sees a broader societal trend: “Beautiful handcrafted product is appreciated in a world of mass production. It stands out and says ‘I am special.’ ” For her own collection, she says, “I’m currently looking at different techniques with fabric and construction to give the collection an element of hand made.”
For some, seeing a gorgeous handmade sweater or scarf is just the incentive needed to embark on a hobby in earnest. Knitting clubs sprung up a number of years ago when news hit that celebrities sometimes take to the needles to reduce stress and kill time on set, and now sewing clubs seem to be hitting their stride.
“I have seen so many blogs spring up about sewing where they go into minute detail about every step of the way in the projects they’ve started. These are people who have never grown up with patterns or home sewing, and the idea that you can make something yourself is fascinating to them,” says Ewanika. “My industrial-sewing repair place said they have never sold so many domestic or quasi-industrial machines.”
It seems there’s just something scrumptious about creating your very own piece. Americo Original at 456 Queen St. W. sells gorgeously coloured yarns, most of them from South America, and has created a full range of knitting patterns based on current trends. The knitting classes are routinely sold out.
“My original idea was to open a home accessories store,” says Nicole Sibonney, who opened Americo four years ago. “But when I was sourcing product in Argentina and saw the raw materials for the fabrics, I was so inspired I changed direction.”
Americo is now mostly a yarn and knitting shop for hobbyists, though there remains a smattering of the original idea in the form of cosy woven blankets and other home accents.
“Knitting allows you to be creative, and it’s meditative and therapeutic,” says Sibonney, explaining the appeal. “Knitting sort of balances our wants. You can’t make anything as fast as you can purchase it. It’s good to slow down a little.”