FK chats to Brianna of versatile & beautiful knitted clothing label, Jack of Diamonds!
Tell us a bit about Jack of Diamond Knits and what products we can expect to discover?
Jack of Diamonds is a knit wear and accessories label, each piece is individually hand crafted using vintage knitting machines and hand knitting techniques. Garments are created with form and versatility in mind – frequently a Jack of Diamonds piece can be worn in several ways. In addition to a focus on wearability each piece is crafted using the highest quality locally sourced materials available. Recently I have been sourcing smaller quantities of premium quality yarns in order to create limited editions of my designs. The Jack of Diamonds ethos is about the importance of high quality before abundant quantity and hand crafted wardrobe pieces which transcend the swiftly changing trends of the fashion world. While machines are used to create the work, the studio is all about slowing down to appreciate the finer things in life.
What is your background and how did you started working with knitwear?
Jack of Diamonds was born of a love of hand work, machines and textiles. While studying Textile Design at RMIT and discovering the extraordinary possibilities of domestic knitting machines I was fortunate enough to gain a position in a reputable knitwear production studio. This formative experience helped to spur my desires to create my own creative studio. I created this small enterprise to share the designs, techniques and my own thoughtful sense of style developed over the years of studying and working in many areas of design.
How has your creative style developed over time? and what inspires your work?
Studying and working in design related disciplines has taught me a great deal about the creative processes. My years of working in small creative businesses created a wonderful foundation for balancing creativity and business – in short learning how to channel style into design, a fundamental aspect of Jack of Diamonds designs. I have often found myself in the very fortunate position of working for extraordinarily talented individuals who encouraged me to pursue my creative leanings alongside learning about their business – interestingly these women were often avid travellers who inspired me to broaden my creative and cultural horizons, travel remains the single most important inspiration for my work. I notice that my passion for tactile luxury and a particular colour palette which often shirks the trends are aspects of my designs which attract most of my clientele.
Can you tell us about your studio space and creative process?
The Jack of Diamonds studio is set up with knitting machines, various materials of yarns and fabrics. Most importantly an extensive wall of pinboards where I track my creative processes from inspiration, early sampling and sketches of designs for the sampled fabrics. I often begin with yarns I have in stock and I back and forth between images and materials which have found their way to the boards until I am happy with the palette and versatility of the materials. From here I swatch various yarns in conjunction with textures while experimenting with balancing of the colour palette. I am frequently drawn to dance as inspiration of the garment silhouettes and find I am only satisfied when I have seen designs on a model moving about. To date I have inadvertently chosen non-models who have long histories of dance education. Then comes the sampling process as I experiment with fit, details and finishing techniques. In addition to creating garments and accessories the Jack of Diamonds label also aims to share the techniques by which they are created, through patterns, workshops and tutorials the Jack of Diamonds studio extends beyond the four walls when I step out to take part the wider community of textile and design.
What do you love about working with Knitwear? And what are some of the challenges?
Knitwear stands alone in the world of garment construction, it requires an entirely different knowledge of construction and design language from tailoring or dressmaking. Knit fabrics can be both incredibly forgiving and fickle but more than that I feel they reveal an inferior materiality quicker than woven fabrics – knit demands a certain level of understanding and quality that I find endlessly challenging. I find the immediacy of constructing the fabric on a hand powered machine affords a very nimble way to design. I know very quickly if my idea will do as I intended or not – this is quite essential in small business as I can adapt in response just as quickly. The double edged sword of this being in complete control of the production process is that I am only able to produce as much as I am physically able – an aspect of which I definitely woke up to when Finders Keepers left me sold out and with a waiting list for several of my designs!
What new plans do you have for Jack of Diamond Knits this year?
Jack of Diamonds has an exciting year ahead as I am working on several new designs to launch next autumn. The next collection for Jack of Diamonds sees an expansion beyond purely knitted pieces and some new designs will include cut and sew elements in conjunction with machine knitted fabrics. The materials used in the next range will be wider and varied with hope to include a much demanded range of pieces for men and an extended range of accessories alongside the usual garments for women. I have longer term plans to collaborate with local yarn producers to develop lines of knitwear which draw attention to the shrinking local wool and yarn industry. Some of the best wool is grown in Australia and it is only just becoming public knowledge that our penchant for keeping up with overseas trends has left us with a flailing textile industry. I hope Jack of Diamonds can make a small contribution to resurrecting an interest in local industry along with local design talent. Thank you for having me!