Apple invited founders Jade and Aurelie to discuss fashion and technology with GQ’s Nick Carvell. We spoke about our woolly journey, from humble student beginnings to building a global knitting community and revolutionary fashion brand.
Technology giant Apple welcomed Wool and the Gang co-founders Jade and Aurelie into their London store to talk about our unique relationship between fashion and technology. It’s no secret that our products are made by hand, not by robots. Our dedicated team of 200 UK gang members have hand-knitted Wool and the Gang into a global knitwear brand. We may be just a knitting brand but we use technology to our advantage, communicating with our worldwide team of Gangstas and building a global fashion community with a conscious. Fashion Editor of GQ magazine, Nick Carvell, sat down with us at the Regent Street store on the 2nd December. Here are our favorite questions from the talk:
Nick: How did it all start?
Jade: Fast fashion was out of control and we were shocked by the culture of throwaway fashion, however there was no opportunity to buy something to make yourself that was on-trend or fashionable.
Aurelie: We wanted to make a change and create a fashion brand where people care about their clothes, so we came up with the concept of knitting kits. Inspired by the Ikea model the iconic knit kit was born, we create sexy and stylish kits that are fast and easy to make. A garment and skill that our knitters can be proud of!
N: What’s the ethos behind the brand?
J: We want to have a positive impact on society, there are lots of benefits to knitting and our community is at the heart of everything we do. We love to educate people – whether it’s learning a new skill, or understanding the value of handmade.
A: We try to reduce the impact on the environment through the materials we use, all wool is renewable and biodegradable. We also repurpose some of our yarns from fabric factories, usually leftover fabric is sent to landfill, we turn them into new yarns like our Jersey Be Good.
N: How did the idea of creating a collective of knitters come about?
A: Over time the business model naturally evolved as there was a demand for the finished pieces. Not everyone wants to knit after all! We already had a community of makers addicted to creating new pieces over and over again so it was a natural next step to combine that supply with the demand for ready-to-wear.
N: How has technology helped your business?
A: Usually a fashion business has a 6-12 month turnaround, meaning that it’s a really long process from designing to getting the product to the customer. Our business has an innovative approach which reduces the lead-time to 2-4 weeks. We come up with a design, put it out to our Gang makers who then knit up the products in their own time, in their own homes and send it once it’s done. This means our products go from design to customer in around 4 weeks.
J: For these launches we match everything with a Wool School tutorial so that people can learn to do it themselves. We use iPhones for this, which really speeds up the process and our in-house team edits using iMovie. It’s much easier and cheaper than sending content to a production company plus it means that we can produce efficiently and on-time.
N: What’s next for Wool and the Gang?
J: The majority of our Gang makers are based in the UK, even though we have a 2500 available around the world. Next year we will be expanding our Gang to be global, this way we can develop more localised production. Better for us, our customers and the environment.
If you missed our London talk and live in New York, you can attend our next Apple talk in January! Which is taking place in the Apple SoHo store.