An ode to knitwear

In the world of fashion there is no escape to the diversity of knits. Where knitwear can be thought of as a garment to keep you warm and cosy, the knit’s from Fabienne Chapot are items to complete your wardrobe and wear on every occasion. Knits are craftmanship products that complete our craftmanship print based collection with colours and techniques. In a conversation with our own knitwear designer Lilian Admiraal, we talk about all the ins- and outs you need to know. 

'FC's knitwear is not just a nice pullover to keep you warm. It is a translation of a print or story.'

How did your passion for knitwear start?  
‘It all started when I worked for the H&M Trend collection. I started assisting the knitwear Designer. She was designing all the knitwear for the Trend collection, which was a small premium collection that had to be special pieces, different to the ‘normal’ women’s knit collection. It was not your average or boring winter wool pullover to keep you warm. It was a new way of translating the collection theme and the trends. This was the first time that I realised, from a designer’s perspective, what the endless possibilities of knitwear are. We did knitted skirts, jacquard dresses, but also sexy ribbed tank tops and pullovers with embellishments. At Fabienne Chapot, together with my product developer Natasja, I work on the knitwear collection. When I started here, there were not so many knitted garments in the collection, so we started working with new suppliers in Italy and started building a collection range, from feminine basics to more DNA statement pieces. I enjoyed this period of setting up the collection so much! And yet, there is still so much we can do, especially in the statement pieces, this is only the beginning!' 

What is a need-to-know if you design knits?
‘What I like about knitwear is the technical part. There is your yarn, the composition, but also the number of threads, the thickness, the type of stitch. And here, the technical part has already started. Within this knitting process, there are so many possibilities to create your garment. It is not like other design processes where you choose your fabric, pattern and garment. With knitting you can create your own fabric. Then you also have the tension, do I want it looser or tighter knitted? The number of needles you use, the thickness of the needle.These decisions make you really feel you are creating a product more from scratch and you make a lot of design choices.'
What is a key characteristic of the knits of FC? 
‘FC’s cardigans and pullovers are not just a nice garment to keep you warm. It is a translation of a print or print-story. I enjoy seeing that my designs help tell story of the collection.’  
What is the most difficult thing in the design process when developing knits? 
‘This definitely is time. Especially since there are so many elements that can change your design, you sometimes feel that you don’t have enough time to experiment within this. What happens if I change the thickness or yarn, is the rib outcome the same? For the embroidery styles I now use a lot of photoshop to create my vision or together with Natasja we work with small knit downs with trials before receiving a full garment. Or using good (preferably vintage) samples and cutting elements off and combine it on other samples can also work to get the right outcome. For the pompom styles I bought pompom tape and pinned it in a certain shape, and we send it to our supplier, that worked out very well!'

‘The craftsmanship in a knit product makes it attractive.’ 

Where do you get your inspiration from? 
‘At FC, I get inspiration from the theme that we are working with and the prints. Our head of design, Hayley, always presents the creative starting point for the new season, the print designers start making the prints and then the knit translations follow. Next to this we travel to fairs like the Pitti Filati in Florence, the knitwear fair. At these fairs they show innovative techniques and colours, but also, what is new in the market and that is really inspiring. At the fair in Florence, they also have a vintage part. In this upcoming SS22 season, I took a lot of inspiration from vintage samples for example the knit stitches and Ajour designs.'
What is your all-time favourite designed knit? 
‘I love the extra elements that you can put on a knit. For next season we used a lot of own developed crochet applications and 3D pompoms. Those are currently the designs that I enjoy the most, especially when they technically work out. And in general, I just love designing knitwear, it is almost like a sculpture and really about silhouettes because of the stretch. With a blouse design you work with volume in your pattern technique, but in knitwear you can create volumes also within your material. You don’t have to be that precise in your pattern measurements because it stretches if it has more ease.' 
How do you keep your knits innovative? 
‘I always look around what other brands are doing and what high segment brands are showing on the runway. Next to that I love to see what people at the office wear. Inspiration can come from so many things, such as daily life. Sometimes I also send suppliers my vision, and they show me what their machines can do, and I get new ideas from this as well.’   
Can you tell me something about the sustainability of the knits at FC? 
‘Within the whole collection we try to be as sustainable as possible where we can. For knitwear our wool or wool blend pullovers are knitted from certified mulesing-free yarns. This means that no sheep are harmed in the process. Next to that we have recycled polyesters in our yarn. What we also do is use the same type of yarn in yarn-programs. If I just do a different stitch, it already looks like a completely different pullover to the customer, but still the same yarn is being used. So, you try to be sustainable with your supplier as well. In the end this is also sustainable for us as a company because you use what you already have in-house, less waist.'
How do you think the future of knitwear will look like? 
‘I feel like it is being used more as a fabric than before. It is not only a pullover, the techniques, and outcomes you can get by using knit techniques are innovative and adds value to your product, even a simple tank top will feel richer. I feel like customers start to notice that knits are giving you this added value, this something extra. People want that, more love in a product that will remain good quality over quantity and attention to craftmanship and innovation.'