In the two and half years since its founding, London’s Unmade Studio has already made an impact on the UK fashion scene. Unmade and its collaborators make original knitwear designs, using industrial knitwear machines and the studio’s own computer program for a modern take on the ancient craft. Their innovative, clever made-to-order scarves and jumpers reflect the aesthetic values of founders Kirsty Emery (a fashion knitwear graduate), Ben Alun-Jones and Hal Watts (both industrial design graduates)—but it’s their roster of collaborators that continue to refresh the visuals. The team has previously worked with fashion designer Christopher Raeburn and artists Malika Favre and Kate Moross, to name just a few. Now, just in time for the weather to get cold properly, Unmade has embraced a new collaborator of a slightly different nature. Teaming up with London-based graphic design publication It’s Nice That, Unmade introduces a collection of graphic scarves on the theme “Future Factory.”
For Unmade, working with It’s Nice That was an easy and almost obvious choice. “We’re interested in how to bring different inputs into fashion. It’s Nice That has curated and selected the best graphic, digital and film work for their site, so they seemed like a natural partner,” Alun-Jones tells us. “In a sense we both publish others’ work, but in different ways. At Unmade, rather than creating a 30-piece collection ourselves, it’s about bringing many people’s designs together.” It’s Nice That reached out to three illustrators—that each have a “kind of unfamiliar but mechanical element to illustration,” as the site’s art director Jamie McIntyre describes it—to create the designs for Unmade.
For Unmade, the collaboration was also a chance to discover new talent. “I had heard of Peter Judson before, but not of Nous Vous or Ed Carvalho-Monaghan, though others in the studio had,” Alun-Jones says. “We’ve been very pleased with the results and range of the collaboration. And the approaches used by the designers, whether hand drawn or computer generated, came together well.” The three scarves really showcase what the knitwear machine can do with the right minds behind it, with designs ranging from Nous Vous’ fluid, hand-drawn shapes to Judson’s wavy symmetric pattern and Carvalho-Monaghan’s “Room,” which is reminiscent of comic books and magazine feature illustrations.
As a start-up, Unmade has had its share of challenges and technical difficulties, but the studio now has a platform that works as a tool it can give designers, making the process of designing for a knitwear machine more intuitive. “The difficulty for the designers we work with lies more in understanding the constraints that come from working with knitwear,” Alun-Jones says. “Creating designs with our machine is a bit like working with an 8-bit computer, and there are also limitations to the color palette. For people who are used to working on paper, knowing how to change their designs to suit knitwear is a challenge.” Unmade’s way of working has been likened to turning the knitwear machine into a 3D printer, and Alun-Jones concludes: “It’s true that if you can make anything, it’s interesting to see what can be made. But as a company we try to focus on quality, transparency and creative integrity.”
The It’s Nice That Collection is available now online and at the Unmade concept store on Floral Street, Covent Garden. Each piece retails for £60, with a royalty going to each designer.
Images courtesy of Unmade + It’s Nice That