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Friday, Dec 3, 2010, 11:36 AM / United States
'The process of building a sweater is appealing because the technique is specialised and formulaic; it starts from nothing, unlike any other form of making I have ever practiced.'
The intricate nature of knits is apparent in American designer Annie Larson’s work. Based in Minneapolis, the knitwear designer completed a BS in Apparel Design, subsequently heading to Target Corporation to design Juniors and Mens apparel following graduation. After a three-year stint and armed with a Brother knitting machine, the designer set out on her own to establish her knitwear label earlier this year. The polychromatic sweaters and made-to-order pieces now retail from her newly launched online store.
As part of Who’s Next Paris 10, taking place on September 4-7, the Who’s Next Blog have hand-picked ten winners to present work in an exclusive preview – Larson is one of the chosen designers. We spoke with the designer during the lead-up to the forthcoming Paris showings.
TribaSpace: Why knitwear?
Annie Larson: Garment construction is incredibly interesting to me and is a skill I have been fine-tuning over many years. After I purchased my first knitting machine I became obsessed with learning about it, how all of the different parts worked, and the many different variables that affect the final product. It has been such an intensive learning process, it would be a real shame to give it up now!
While undertaking your degree you studied in Florence. Given the reputation of Italian knits, how, if at all, did your time in Italy inform your decision to specialise in knitwear?
My educational experience in Florence occurred long before I became interested in knitwear, and my university did not have many resources available for learning or practicing any techniques. It seemed too impossible and unfamiliar, a world I never thought to enter. My decision to specialise in knitwear was primarily influenced by learning about sweater construction and yarn classification through my design job at Target Corporation.
Did the three years you spent designing for Target Corporation enhance your capabilities a designer?
Yes, definitely. I really feel that the skill-set I use to support myself as an independent designer has developed more from my professional experience at Target than from previous academic experiences and personal endeavors. It also helped point me in the right direction, sparked a deep interest in knitwear, and showed me many things about the fashion industry I didn’t know about. Additionally, after more than three years of working there in various design positions, I became aware that I wanted to do something completely different, which has led me to the point I am at right now.
Why did you choose to establish an online store?
Mainly because I wanted to work from my studio, and start off doing something I could completely manage on my own. I would love to have a physical space to work with some day, when the time is right.
How do you balance opposing tasks – such as business administration and design – within your daily workload?
It’s really challenging at times. I feel the most conflicted when I am in a wave of producing new ideas, and I don’t want to stop for anything until all the pieces have fully materialised. Photography, promotion, web-design, and bookkeeping are all as new to me as knitting, but I do enjoy getting my hands in everything. I love what I do, and I remind myself at least once a day that I am lucky to have such a happy life even if my list of things to do is a mile long.
You recently participated in a collaborative project entitled New Land of Milk and Honey. Do you regularly partake in collaborative projects?
The NLMH collaboration was an amazing project that brought together a large group of people with an incredible variety of skill. It strengthened many of my interpersonal relationships within my community, and I believe it has done the same for many others.
I have a few collaborative projects coming up in the future, neither of which have anything to do with dressing adult women in sweaters, which I think is the key to keeping things fresh.
Can it be isolating working as an independent designer?
It is not isolating working as an independent designer, though I am lucky because I have a studio mate that works in a very similar way and we have perfected the art of enjoying each others company without distracting one another from work. I have collaborated on many different projects in the past, but the ETC + ALL collection will be the first that specifically relates to knitwear.
As a winner of Who’s Next Blog Class of September 10, you’ve been invited to present your work in Paris. What can we expect to see and what do you hope to achieve from participating?
I will be presenting two small cotton knitwear collections made from an edited selection of basic silhouettes. One of the groups is composed entirely from different kinds of stripes and the other group is a pattern collaboration (ETC + ALL) with artist and designer, Eric Carlson, also from Minneapolis. There will be tons of colour present in both categories, and new patterns by Eric with names like Cheeto Bingo and Maryland. While I’m there, I hope to meet as many people as possible.
What advice can you offer to upcoming independent designers?
I think the best, most genuine and truthful advice I have ever received is to just be myself. I would gladly pass that on to anybody, in any profession, at any stage in their life. Be true!
To peruse and purchase previous work, visit the online shop at allforeveryone.com
To view Annie Larson’s portfolio, visit annielarson.com
For sales and press enquiries contact Annie Larson on all(at)annielarson.com
Melisa Gray-Ward | TribaSpace
Production, Shoes, Creation, Buying, Couture, Education, Ready-to-Wear
Markets: Men's, Women's
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