What is it?
Knyttan is a brand concept created in 2013, which explores and projects how customisation is set to become the future of fashion. It offers the opportunity to customise a jumper or scarf design via a web app, and have it produced to order at the company’s factory and shop at Somerset House in London.
Knyttan works with a range of different designers to create “style guides” that customers can then customise via the app to make bespoke pieces. UK graphic designer Kate Moross, for example, created a range of geometric patterns for the brand, which customers can manipulate in different ways to create almost limitless variations.
“You can move around to your favourite part of the image, you can zoom in to a piece of detail that you really like and you can say, ‘I want it in this different colour way… This creates a completely different piece almost every single time.”
Alun-Jones says that while fashion has traditionally been reluctant to embrace new technology, the success of the shop is forcing the industry to take mass customisation seriously.
“Now we’ve made the shop and we’ve shown how it can work, it’s totally changed the conversation,” he says. “People realise and really understand how this can be the future of fashion.”
How it informs my research
- As an established brand concept which has centralised customisation in it’s production model, I will use KNYTTAN as one of my ‘In focus case studies’ for my Research Task 1 output where I am mapping the existing customisation fashion landscape.
- This article additionally makes it clear how the relationship between the designer and the consumer is changing – instead of providing finished products, a designer can set style guides framing the process and inherent creative identity of a particular product, which the consumer finishes off. This aligns with my thinking on making use of graduate designers and their creative identities as co-designers.
- However, secondary research of this brand concept and primary research of it’s Somerset House space has additionally been valuable in allowing me to situate my FMP customisation brand concept away from the dynamics of this model. My whole concept revolves around building a more valuable relationship between the consumer and the product, through enabling to them to participate in the creation of a piece of clothing which will function as an artefact of their personal narrative. This creation of meaning is reliant on an intimate, visceral, multi-sensory customisation experience which really allows the consumer to connect with the product during the process of it’s creation. Knyttan’s use of technology and a modular style bank presents both limited freedom, and a more sanitised and detached customisation experience. Upon visiting the space, to me this style of engagement did little to connect me emotionally to the products on offer and I doubt would encourage the consumer to ‘buy less and get more’. It appears to simply be fulfilling short-term wants. Obviously my start-up budget means I wouldn’t have access to this style of technology. However regardless, for the ‘style bank’ products I would use maquettes which could be tailored to an individual silhouette to enable this more visceral physical experience.
- It is also still catering to fast fashions need for speed, where it is only 20 mins to produce a scarf. Therefore this discourse is doing little to transform irresponsible consumer behaviour driven by the fast fashion model. Thus whilst this model is about customisation it is clear it’s central objective is sales, rather than sustainability or enabling individual self-expression.