Every now and then something floats into my inbox which makes me truly, genuinely excited. Between the junk and day to day chatter, happy messages awaken my soul from the ordinary, and when I heard from the wonderful Jade at Wool and The Gang, I ignored the rest of my inbox and fell instantly in love with the brand. Partly because I have always love to dabble in knitting, and partly because the dual concept of getting us to create our own super sexy clothes ourselves, with full transparency and sustainability surrounding the communities who source the bare products, is something of a quiet revolution. And one that we need.
With their dedicated gang of global knitters, Jade and her partner Brooke have amassed a team of artisan producers around the world, providing ethically-minded style hunters with cosy fashion-led designs that are always made by hand, never from a factory. Many are based in Peru, where the wool is also sourced – their Crazy Sexy Wool, Shiny Happy pima Cotton and their super soft Sugar Baby Alpaca. Everything can be traced to its source, and keen crafters can also knit their own, with WATG providing the yarn, needles and pattern. So whether you want to learn to create your own super sassy pieces or support the Peruvian knitting family, it’s really a win-win situation.
No wonder collaborations with Mini, Somerset house, Pamela Hanson and crafts hothouse John Lewis have already spring to life, with designs being snapped up by stylish sirens Jemima Kirke, Tara Stiles (apparently a prolific knitter – who knew?), Lindsey Wixon and Christy Turlington.
Intrigued to know more, and to knit a good beanie for these grey winter days, I caught up with Jade at the start of this year.
(The beanie is still in progress, the interview more fruitful.)
What is your vision with WATG?
Our mission is to make fashion transparent and sustainable. We’re doing this by empowering our ‘Gang’ to make WATG clothes from their homes or ordering the items knitted by our gang. We want to offer alternative options for fashion.
What did you do before this revolution took you in its sway?
I met my partner Aurelie Popper at Central Saint Martins, where we studied Textiles Design specialising in knitwear. When we finished we crossed paths with Lisa Sabrier and together we started the adventure of Wool and the Gang in 2008 with a passion for sustainable design.
Initially we launched with the concept of easy-to-learn knit kits and handmade items by artisans in Peru. And over the past five years we built a community of makers who all learned to knit with WATG, so we are now able to offer the chance for our community to sell WATG clothes through our platform, bringing back home-manufacturing.
I love to knit but struggle to commit! How do you find your super knitters?
Mainly through our community on social platforms – we’ve already had 700 applications. We have 89 active Gang Makers making WATG designs and they each receive a WATG knitting manual of patterns. Our Zion Lion hats are always being knitted by the Gang, they are what we call our evergreen product. They make a great product for our Gang to knit as they only take 1 hour to make (45 minutes for speedy knitters).
Where do you think sustainable fashion is heading in the UK?
Knowing where your fashion comes from and that the person who created it was treated in a fair and appropriate way is more important than it has ever been. We believe that brands that have this as part of their strategy will be the fashion leaders for a new generation. Wool and the Gang is championing this movement, bringing fast sustainable fashion to customers, made by our network of knitters, who work on their own terms and in their own environment.
What do you like to do when not working on WATG?
To shop the collection – and hurry, there’s a sale! – visit woolandthegang.com. I’m having multicoloured waves of desire for the cross country cardigan – a test for my knitting skills which I’m not sure I will pass, but then as I always tell myself, when there’s a will there’s a way.