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April 19 2014

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The Neo-Knitwear Age Is Already Upon Us

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Some trends are easy to identify because they come at you all at once, like ultra-mega-platforms and leather leggings. But other trends mark eras. They’re usually the ones that sneak up on you. Take knits: Word that up-and-coming London designer Mark Fast would be designing a range for Topshop arrived on the same day this week it was announced that H&M would be collaborating with the legendary Sonia Rykiel.

Together, it amounted to a ratification of the emerging interest in knitwear dressing. Rykiel, of course, essentially invented sweater dressing. Fast, on the other hand, is one of several young designers giving knits a major rethink. Rodarte and Ohne Titel are among that same group. Fast’s super-sexy knit dresses are closer in spirit to vintage Hervé Léger bandage dresses than they are to Rykiel’s striped jumpers. (He’d probably die before he made a cardigan.) But as far apart as the two designers may be aesthetically, their work starts with the same length of yarn.

Why the sudden passion for knits? We posed the question to Louise Goldin, whose eponymous line is based on knits she drapes and pleats like fabric. This season, she also debuted her capsule collection for old-school cashmere brand Ballantyne, where she’s now creative director. (Here’s one look pictured at left.) “Why anyone else gets into knits, I can’t say, because I got into it by accident,” Goldin explained. “When I started school, I was encouraged to explore knits because working with them, you can learn about everything. Draping, patternmaking, textile development.” Goldin continued that she’s not trying to replace Ballantyne’s traditionalist approach with anything too avant-garde—at least not for now. “Before I do anything else, I want to play with the brand’s blends, and their knitting techniques,” she noted. “That is the key difference. When you’re working with a knit, you’re the one creating the fabric. You start from scratch.”

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