In these times of mass production and fast fashion, I dream about having my very own fashion piece in my closet. A piece, which is unique, personal, timeless and eternal. And that’s the magic of knitwear. It offers the possibility to wear something very different since knitwear production is based on ancient and handcrafted techniques. In the production process, every needle is controlled and every yarn is put through the machine in a very specific way, which makes the final product so unique.
Oftentimes, knitwear is wrongly associated with heavy garments and comfortable fabrics one would wear when winter knocks at the door. But that’s only a fraction of the infinite possibilities offered by knitwear. Knitwear is in fact, very versatile. It can be sexy (think about skinny rib!), cozy, comfortable, decorative, oversize or even classy. This diversity is based on the very different techniques – from weft knitting to Missoni’s warp knitting - and historical traditions every country has with knitting.
Thus, knitwear is not only comfort but couture, and that’s why it is not uncommon to find knitwear in Haute Couture fashion shows. The innovative knitwear brand PH5 perfectly illustrated this at the New York fashion shows where the brand presented its Fall / Winter 2017 collection, which is composed of elegant and effortless knitted fashion pieces.
What is certain is that knitwear is enjoying a revival in fashion today, because of the new technologies and fibres which turned the knitting industry into something very exciting and innovative.
Looking back, knitting is a tradition that is thousands of years old. People were already knitting with their fingers since 1000 BC, when knitwear was mainly used to produce clothes to provide warmth, protection and ease of movement. Later, in medieval Europe, the industry of hand-knitted caps, gloves and socks developed. In 1589, the Reverend William Lee opened up a new era for the knitwear trade by inventing the stocking knitting frame. It was the first time that the art of knitting was mechanized and by the end of the seventeenth century, the use of machine knitting was popularized across Europe.
With the rise of women emancipation and the boom of sporting activities in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, knitwear was at the core of fashion as it allowed women to dress both in comfort and freedom of movement. During the late 1920's in accordance with this period, Coco Chanel launched casual and practical fashion pieces made of knitted jersey fabrics, which liberated women from tight corsets.
In some way, knitwear won a place in every decade except for the eighties. From the “sweater girls” like Jane Russell in the 1940 - 1950’s, to the skinny rib fashion trend in the sixties, to the huge Missoni promotion in Vogue of fashionable knitwear in the seventies. The eighties marked the fashion style of power dressing and knitwear was set back.
The nineties marked the beginning of huge innovations in technology and from this point knitwear became more and more diverse in its styles, patterns, materials and proportions.
Since then, talented fashion designers have reinvented the knitwear fashion industry from Vivienne Westwood who “reintroduced the idea of fine knitwear into fashion” to Michaela Buerger, who transformed her love for hand-knitting into collections full of life, fun and colours.
Michaela Buerger is a Parisian – Austrian fashion designer who has a very distinct hand knit style. In her collections of sweatshirts, t-shirts, shirts, dresses and denim, she incorporates patches that are entirely handmade using a variety of techniques such as knit, crochet and embroidery. A collective of 150 women in Bosnia-Herzegovina hand knit all these patches which makes every piece of her collection unique. Considering the emotional investment and the several hours of work that go into every creation, we can say that Michaela Buerger final products are unparalleled.
Michaela Buerger collections retain strong references to current real world, which makes her pieces so timeless. I said that I was dreaming about a unique, eternal, personal and timeless fashion piece. I don’t have to dream anymore. I just need a Michaela Buerger Sweatshirt! Right. Now.