Industrial machinery, cutting-edge software and fashion textiles: not the usual trio one might interact with at one’s desk, but they are the backbone of a pioneering new knitwear label that launches this week. Unmade – the brainchild of Ben Alun-Jones (creative director), Kirsty Emery (fashion director) and Hal Watts (CEO) – merges traditional knitwear production with digital technology to enable customers to create personal, one-of-a-kind jumpers and scarves. And creative assistance is at hand in the form of some of today’s most exciting designers.
The process begins with users selecting an underlying motif, courtesy of six initial creative luminaries who have partnered with Unmade for the launch. These hail from the worlds of wool (such as Paris Essex), fashion (Christopher Raeburn), digital art (Nicolas Sassoon) and graphic design (Kate Moross’s Studio Moross).
Once a pattern has been chosen, users can then move, rotate and alter the design on screen to their heart’s content – via the web, on a tablet or physically in Unmade’s new pop-up on London’s Floral Street (open until Christmas), where an industrial knitting machine equipped with Unmade’s unique software is the star of the show. For Christopher Raeburn’s Borneo map-inspired motifs (third picture), for example, users can hone in on favourite locations or position markers or move logos into preferred spots. Fans of Dutch artists Moniker’s chic houndstooth can, at the click of a mouse, “break up” the traditional check, adding their own edgy stamp to the knitwear. Or they can “splat” designs in the vein of Paris Essex’s creations. All requests, both online and off, are then sent to Unmade’s studio for finishing and hand-assembly; delivery takes around five days.
In addition to the six designers (future “collections” will see new collaborators), Unmade also has its own line, White Label – a tongue-in-cheek reference to brands that manufacture for other companies. On offer are cool Grid jumpers (example in first picture) and Twist scarves (£60, second and fourth pictures) in high-end, Italian-spun merino wool or cashmere, which can also be customised in a choice of 10 shades. For jumpers, either single hues (£120 for merino wool, £220 for cashmere) or double (£200 for merino) are available.
“Unmade takes the best of what designers and knitwear experts can offer, while adding a customer’s creativity,” says Alun-Jones. “It’s fun and simple – a new approach to fashion design.”