Interview
A Slow Revolution

Wool and the Gang

We shine a light on the brand redefining knitting for a new generation

Shop Wool and the Gang

@libertylondon

It all began in 2007 with a desire to create a digitally-driven brand that was everything 'fast fashion' wasn’t - crafty knitting kits, that handed the power back to the maker. In the years since, said brand Wool and the Gang has achieved its aim of making knitting cool and accessible for a new generation. Here, co-founder Jade Harwood reveals how far the DIY brand has come since producing its first ball of ‘Crazy Sexy Wool’.

For those who haven’t heard of Wool and the Gang, what is it?

Wool and the Gang is a DIY brand revolutionising fashion, powered by the maker movement. We sell crafty kits for every maker, whether you’re a knit novice or stitch master. Our crochet, knit, macramé and embroidery kits are designed to last, encouraging slow fashion whilst also developing the maker’s skills. Knitting isn’t just a hobby, it’s a community, a lifestyle, and together we can make a positive change for our planet - one stitch at a time.

How did it come to fruition?

Wool and the Gang’s story began in 2007, when Lisa Sabrier had the idea of making knitting cool and accessible for a new generation. Lisa roped in her countrywoman Aurelie Popper - a recent graduate from London’s esteemed Central Saint Martins-who in turn enlisted me after we worked together at Balmain.

Wool and the Gang was to champion ethics and sustainability, to be cheerleaders for both people and planet. A decade later, we’ve come a long way from our first ever ball of Crazy Sexy Wool, but we still source it from family-run farms in South America.

"Once you’ve mastered a stitch and keep going, you’ll reach a relaxed, almost meditative state - like a knitting nirvana!"

Can you talk us through your creative process?

Messy! I’m definitely a left-brain thinker. My constant curiosity is what fuels me, and it means ideas will be triggered at very random times; some of my best ideas have come to me on the tube. Once I’ve had this weird blue-sky idea, I’ll take it to my brilliant team and we’ll brainstorm to work on turning it into something solid.

What are the main benefits of ‘slow fashion’?

Knitting takes time, of course. So, when our gang show off the makes that they’ve patiently created with their own hands - it’s more than a scarf they put around their neck, it’s part of their life. Crafting your own clothes increases understanding of what goes into making a garment, which can make you much more aware of the damaging impact of fast fashion and steer you away from it. In our incredible community of makers, we know many of them who not only make their own clothes but are DIY experts who are incredibly environmentally conscious.

How have things changed since you launched in 2008?

A significant change has been shifting our business model from a combination of ready to wear and kits, to focusing solely on kits. It was hard to say goodbye to the ready to wear business and shutting down production with our global crew of knitters. However, getting through that change and coming out of it with a tighter proposition has allowed us to grow.

What was the first thing you made?

An unfinished blanket for my teddy

What have been your favourite things to date?

It might sound cheesy, but my favourite thing has been being part of such an awesome knitwork of makers as well as creating a kick-ass team of people to work with. We had our first shop on Thompson Street in Soho, New York, and I really loved being there and hanging with the gang - it’s where the foundations of the business were built. That said, teaching Cara Delevigne to knit backstage at the Giles Deacon show was a mega pinch-me moment.

What’s your brand ethos?

Our dream is to get the whole world making, and make a positive change for the planet while we’re doing it. We travel the world to source the highest quality materials possible with minimum environmental impact. Some yarns can take up to five years to produce from conception, because we’d rather get it right rather than rush it.

Can you tell us about your creative background?

I studied Textile Design at Central Saint Martins, which is something I’d always wanted to do - I even wrote them a letter when I was 14 with a custom design logo on it, asking how to apply. I was always drawing and making things when I was little, and I knit my very first stitch age seven after my granny taught me how.

Can you tell us about your creative background?

I studied Textile Design at Central Saint Martins, which is something I’d always wanted to do - I even wrote them a letter when I was 14 with a custom design logo on it, asking how to apply. I was always drawing and making things when I was little, and I knit my very first stitch age seven after my granny taught me how.

Where do you source your wool?

We have a lot of wools in our collection now - we’re greedy! But most of our wools and our signature Crazy Sexy is sourced from family run farms in South America.

wool and the gang
What’s your starting point for a new collection?

I’m inspired by what’s happening in the world around me, and what stories there are for us to tell. For example, our New Wave yarn is created using recycled plastic bottles that would have otherwise ended up in the ocean. This was not only an important, relevant topic to talk about but we were also able to create a strong visual identity taking inspiration from the oceans, and the cultures that interact with them.

Why should we take up knitting?

Knitting is not only good for the planet, it’s good for the soul, too. It’s to do with the repetitive nature; it can seem tricky at first but once you’ve mastered a stitch and keep going, you’ll reach a relaxed, almost meditative state - like a knitting nirvana! Before you know it, you’re calm, relaxed and you have knitted something you feel proud of.

What’s next?

We’ve got some exciting new yarns launching soon, to give you a clue: what do you get when you cross Alpaca and Merino?

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