Whilst I'm not thrilled about the weather this week, one of the benefits of this strange reversal of Spring back into Winter is that I get to stay cocooned up in my jumpers a bit longer. As you'll know from past blog posts I'm more than partial to a bit of knitwear, and am always on the hunt for quality, wearable pieces that can be worn all day everyday and anywhere my life takes me.
That being said I'd like to introduce you to Needle, an Italian made knitwear brand with headquarters in Yorkshire. Needle was launched in early 2013 by Lizzie Cawthray, and strives to offer luxurious but wearable, fun every day knitwear for women of all ages.
SS14 is Needle's second season and takes inspiration from the rural English coastline where cool blues, on-trend pastels and bold brights all play their part across lightweight cotton blends and feather-soft cashmere pieces perfect for layering.
I'm already in love with the Crete colour blocked cashmere jumper (I'm thinking statement necklace and boyfriend jeans would be the perfect pairing yes?) as well as the Kos multi stitch colour block jumper and the Ithica lace-hole stitch striped jumper in oatmeal and coral combination. The SS14 is available at www.needleboutique.com Prices start from £115.
Read my Q&A with Lizzie and see more from the SS14 collection after the jump.
Q. Tell me a little about your background and how the idea for Needle came about?
A. I was a knitwear product developer for LK Bennett and before I started I knew very little about knitwear but I started working with Emma who was the knitwear designer and fell in love with knitwear. Emma showed me the versatility of knitwear and I quickly realised there was so much that can be done with knitwear. Although we all love to wear summer clothes in the UK we do need knitwear most of the year and so the idea to create a brand that specialised in fun, wearable, good quality knitwear came about. Fortunately, Emma is Needle's designer and together we spend hours looking over all the little details, especially colour palettes and Needle has evolved from this.
Q. Why Knitwear specifically?
A. I love knitwear and that was the best starting blocks..I can't help myself but head straight to the knitwear in any shop. It is the feel that is so lovely and cosy when you wear it and there just isn't enough of the fun, well designed and good quality knitwear around.
Q. Do you have any plans to expand the collection beyond knitwear down the line - can you see Needle becoming more of a lifestyle brand for instance?
A. Yes absolutely although we might branch into menswear first I get asked all the time - if we would do a men's knitwear collection. Clearly a bit of gap there!
Q. The SS14 collection takes inspiration from the rural English coastline. How do you envision 'City Girls' styling it and mixing & matching with their staple pieces this summer?
A. It's pretty easy to style the Corfu jumper with ankle skimming trousers and you are ready for work and the Sicily t-shirt is so pretty it's perfect to throw on with jeans for drinks in an evening or wear with a skirt to work. The Ravello cable is your weekend go to, it's comfortable and so easy to wear.
Q. How do you take into consideration the varying age groups you are targeting and keep the brand relevant for women 20-say age 50?
A. It is one of the challenges when we start designing a new collection but essentially all women want to feel good in their clothes no matter how old you are, it is mostly about the fit and yarns we use but styling comes into it; some older women would style pieces differently to the younger audience. For example I (late 20s) will belt our dress, my mum in her mid 50s will wear it more as a tunic. We do a lot of customer facing shows and I most people love the textures and the soft hand-feel of our pieces, I want everyone to love their Needle jumpers and enjoy wearing them and amazingly we manage to appeal to a very broad range of people!
Q. Setting up your business just out of the recession must have been difficult - what support did you receive and what advice would you give budding fashion entrepreneurs who want to start their own fashion businesses?
A. My support came from family, boyfriend and friends and you have to learn to really lean on people. I would say be flexible, don't think your initial plan is where you will end up, my ideas have changed so much over the last two years. It is really important to find people who you can bounce ideas off because it's stressful bottling it all up and making decisions alone. It's definitely not an easy journey and there are days when you think you are mad for starting up but if it was easy then everyone would be doing it, but the good days are so worth it, seeing people enjoy your product is an amazing feeling.
Q. What can customers expect from the AW14 collection?
A. AW14 has the continued colour-blocking and strong cable pieces but we've tried a felted knitted coat/ cardigan which is proving popular already with buyers!
Needle will be running a pop-up boutique will be open from today until Friday at 4:30pm at The Study, 10a Blandford Street, Marylebone, W1U 4AZ.