When Emily Hermans started her own clothing line in 2004, she did something kind of genius: She found a local knitwear factory in Eindhoven that would let her produce her own textile designs on its knitting machines, and then slowly convinced its owner to take her on as a partner. He would get equity in her line — MLY — and she could crank out prints to her heart’s content without paying a premium. There was only one catch: The factory made downmarket acrylic uniforms and sports paraphernalia, and from time to time, she’d be asked to design things like corporate gifts for Dutch banks and pencil companies. But it was okay, because she made those beautiful, too, and her clothing line flourished.
Because so few people do the kind of work Hermans does, it helps to picture Missoni: Thin, colorful knits in simple, body-conscious silhouettes, with the patterns woven directly into the fabric rather than digitally printed on top of it. Thin because Dutch people happen to hate thick knits; woven because printing is so “been there done that,” says the 31-year-old. “It’s hard to do something new with knitwear.”
If anyone would know, it’s Hermans — she had two internships while attending fashion school in Amsterdam, one at a London studio that designed and sold textile swatches to chains like H&M and Mango, who would then ship them to factories in China for mass-production, and another at a decidedly unfashionable Dutch knitwear company catering to middle-aged people. Both jobs taught her what she wanted to do by teaching her what she didn’t.
Now she shows at Dutch fashion week, where she’s known for her bold, graphic textiles inspired by everything from the Bauhaus to African prints to Chinese painting techniques. Her next collection, which she’ll present in February, will depict themes from her childhood, which was spent on a farm in a tiny Dutch village called Broekhuizenvorst. Hermans took a break from designing it to show us around her factory, sports jerseys and all.
Once or twice a year, Brooklyn furniture designer Paul Loebach gets out his straw hat and bandana, ties on a pair of crappy old sneakers, drags out his huge canvas tote, and drives up to Massachussetts, where dealers from all over the Northeast gather every spring, summer, and fall for the Brimfield Antique Show.
For more than three years, the Argentinean sisters Sol Caramilloni Iriarte and Carolina Lopez Gordillo Iriarte kept a design studio on the second floor of a building in Barcelona, handcrafting an eponymous line of leather bags in relative privacy. Sol, 32, was working part-time as a set designer for films; Carolina, 25, had just finished a year apprenticing under her friend Muñoz Vrandecic, the Spanish couture shoemaker. Called Iriarte Iriarte, it was a modest operation. Then in June, fate intervened.
As I walked the Tendence gift fair in Frankfurt this summer, Iris Maschek appeared to me like an oasis of glam in a desert of practicality. There she was, surrounded by clocks and soaps and clever ceramic jugs with customizable chalkboard labels, dressed all in black and perched in a cool mid-century rattan chair against this gorgeously baroque Rorschach-like backdrop: A specimen from her very first wallpaper collection.