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The art and hope behind our knitwear

The series of interconnected loops and knots hold stories, generational knowledge, and a shared vision of a brighter future. Come and explore with us…

 

How knitwear changed through history

The history of knitting probably started in Ancient Egypt. The first documented piece of knitted work was a pair of socks, dating from the 4th or 5th century AD. Though the technique is not the typical knitting we think of today, it is a very similar method of using possibly multiple needles to craft a tight fabric. Still, it hints at the rich and diverse world and history of knitting. Down the line, crochet, as its own unique needlework, developed into a range of techniques, styles, and shapes. 

As these techniques spread, they adapted to local materials, climate, needs, and tools. Before the invention of modern needles, hand-carved sticks of wood, bone, quill, and ivory or metal wires and fine steel were common. People used almost anything from wool and cotton to silk and linen, depending on the situation and resources available. Unfortunately, synthetic materials like acrylic and polyester replaced many natural fibers today. The synthetics are cheaper and, to some extent, easier to work with. 

Yet, they do not keep the same properties, feel, or quality of natural materials. On top of that, synthetics, are products of crude oil, come from non-renewable resources and are highly unsustainable. These fibers don't biodegrade but accumulate in nature, harming the life on our planet. 

Thus, when we started looking at knitwear and crochet work, we knew that we needed to make sure it was made with natural fibers and processed sustainably. We also needed to make sure it fits in with the rest of our collections.

While many might associate knitted garments with cold weather, the truth is that their use, thickness, and warming or cooling properties come from the material and method employed. We invested a lot of time understanding knitting and experimenting with different forms. 

However, finding the suitable fabric and method was just one-half of the story. We also needed someone who could make the pieces for us. 

Our search for the right partners eventually brought us to Peru.

 

Who knits our clothes?

After months of visiting numerous factories and talking to fabric experts, we almost gave up on our idea. There were options, of course. But none fitted our sustainability standards and vision, which we refused to compromise.

A single person understood this well and changed our trajectory.

In 2020, we met Fatima in Peru. Fatima is a talented young entrepreneur who puts sustainability and ethics at the forefront of her business. She immediately picked up what we were looking for and soon became our key partner.

Fatima's big passion and focus was reviving handmade and slow fashion. She had a network of women in rural Peru who were highly skilled in hand-knitted or crochet work. Together, we started exploring options and getting to know the artisans' work.

That was indeed the moment when all pieces started to fall into place. Not only that the women use natural, toxic-free fibers, but we knew that our partnership would directly benefit them. Through Fatima's network, we got a chance to stay true to another vital part of Savannah Morrow's mission: to support artisans around the world.

Our collaboration began that year, and we created the first pieces for the Basics Made Better Collection. Things went better than expected, and we decided to continue our collaboration.

 

Crafting a better today and tomorrow

In every new collection in the past two years, we leave some room for knitted and crochet pieces, which we design separately. Most of our collections are made right here, in our Los Angeles studio. However, this part of the production we leave for our Peruvian artisans.

Fatima employs directly about ten 10 groups of women in different villages outside of Lima who work on these clothes for us. We split our designs between these groups every time, and Fatima coordinates and monitors the entire process. Today, it is common to produce similar styles entirely by using machines. Still, we give advantage to the handmade process and tradition these women bring.

Therefore, our knits and crochets are a result of a slow process. It takes hours to weave a single piece, making each a work of art in its own right. If you take a closer look at each design, you will see a variety of techniques: ranging from tightly bound and structured to light, intertwined strings that form lace-like forms. 

The textures and looks of each piece are astonishing. Yet, we are proud of what these knits mean for the artisans that work with us.

All the women we work with in Peru have been carrying and preserving the art of knitting in their families. Despite industrialization, mass production, and fashion's reliance on machines, these women kept the art going. Thanks to entrepreneurs like Fatima, they can also earn a living off their skills and talent.

These women work from their homes, avoiding migrating to cities and working in unsafe conditions that are the reality of most industries. When we talk to them, they tell us how grateful they are that businesses and brands still appreciate and value their work.

Working with brands like ours means that they earn a living wage and can finance their children's education and the maintenance of their homes. Through weaving, knitting, braiding, and twisting, these women are pushing back on fast fashion, showing that another way is possible. They are not only making it safe for themselves and their children, they are also crafting a better future for us all.

We are thankful for an opportunity to contribute to this. In our Spring Summer '22 collection, we feature more designs from these wonderful artisans than ever before.