- Title: UK-DIGITAL KNITWEAR Digital knitwear puts new spin on festive fashion
- Date: 16th December 2014
- Summary: CLOSE OF ALUN-JONES USING TABLET TO DESIGN SWEATER CLOSE OF SWEATER VISUALISED ON MODEL
- Embargoed: 31st December 2014 12:00
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVAF1FL9A6BFWIYIXFPMQZVBRHUJ
- Story Text: A London-based fashion studio is combining traditional knitting techniques with bespoke technology to give fashion-conscious Christmas shoppers a jumper to be proud of.
Called KNYTTAN (PRON: Nitten), which comes from old English, the team has built a system that lets the user customise clothing designs through a web browser. These designs are then fed into a top-of-the-range industrial knitting machine to make high quality garments.
Founded by three former students from the Royal College of Art, KNYTTAN wants to bridge the gap between designers and customers.
"Can you connect people directly to the means of production? And so with KNYTTAN, what we've tried to do is: can you do that in fashion? Where, using the insights of fashions designers, of creative people - graphic designers, digital artists - can you actually let people have much more control over what they buy, but at the same time still end up with an extremely high-quality fashion product as a result," said co-founder Ben Alun-Jones.
KNYTTAN uses Stoll knitting machines, the same type used by the largest fashion and luxury companies. Alun-Jones explained that these machines have an inherent software interface that was lost as manufacturing processes evolved. His team 'reverse engineered' the machines to work with their bespoke design software.
"For us to actually do this project we had to go back to this low level of the machine code and reverse engineer the whole way in which the software for these machines work. And that was kind of the core first step. The things that you're seeing on the website now, they're actually completely bespoke tools to actually enable customers to be involved in the design process; and there hasn't really been many things like that - particularly in fashion."
Users start by choosing a design template created by one of several artists. They can then manipulate the designs; twisting and contorting the shapes, colours and patterns into something unique. Once the customer has finished their design, the in-house machine knits the garment. Depending on demand, the team says a scarf would take about half-an-hour to knit; while a sweater would take about one-and-a-half hours.
Kirsty Emery, who founded KNYYTAN alongside Alun-Jones and Hal Watts, said the market for customised items is on the rise.
"There's definitely huge trends towards customisation. If you look anywhere on the high street or any of the big fashion houses everyone's doing something and trying to find a new way. Whether it's doing embroidered initials onto something or if it's just choosing the colour; it's such a huge trend that's just popping up all over the place and I can only see it getting bigger," said Emery.
She added that while all KNYTTAN products are unique, they share a similar aesthetic: "It's still got a recognisable brand to it, so though no two will ever be exactly the same, you can still definitely see that there's an overall aesthetic."
Using 100 percent Merino wool, the garments don't come cheap. A scarf will set you back 80 pounds (125 USD), while a jumper costs 200 pounds (approx 310 USD). But the price did not seem to bother passers-by in London who were generally willing to pay that amount for a high quality item.
"Something like that, like a jumper - something you really love and you would keep for 15 years, if you knew that in advance, I wouldn't mind paying a couple of hundred pounds for that," said one Christmas shopper in London.
Another said a KNYTTAN garment would make an ideal Christmas gift: "It's definitely a good idea for Christmas, cause that would be just perfect for someone who wants to do a scarf or knitwear for someone they love, that they know exactly what it is. That's a perfect gift."
Customers can customise their own sweater design via the company's website knyttan.com
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