Transforming the stunningly untouched landscapes of Scotland in a sustainable knitwear collection doesn’t seem like an easy task, yet the Scottish designer Chloe Innes completes it with flying - purple - colours. The Heriot-Watt alumna looks back at her Scottish heritage for inspiration, as well as craft and even berries, as she celebrates her Northern roots with an eco-friendly knitwear collection. Her impressive knits lead her to be featured in the September issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK, as she reinterprets and modernises the Scottish heritage, techniques and fashion all together.
Why was it important to you to include Scotland as your inspiration for this collection and story?
It was important for me to use Scotland as the base of my inspiration for this collection as I wanted my graduate collection to be an integral part of my identity. I wanted to step back from stereotypical notions of Scottish fashion and push my collection towards reevaluating Highland heritage from modern Scotland and away from the romanticised stories from our past. I have always grown up being inspired and appreciative of the landscape around me, and wanted to utilise this pithing my collection as it was simply the foundation I grew up with.
"I wanted to step back from stereotypical notions of Scottish fashion and push my collection towards reevaluating Highland heritage from modern Scotland"
Your collection features outstanding chunky knits, what materials did you use for these and why?
I only worked with natural and sustainable materials when creating my collection. For the knitwear pieces, I used 100% recycled wool in a variety of purple hues, greys and whites to resemble the muted tones characteristic to a Scottish landscape. Peace and bamboo silks were used throughout my collection, hand-dyed and eco-printed with plants and berries home to Scotland. The organic and unique prints that were created from this process meant that each piece of fabric has it is own one-off characteristic and story. I also made use of 100% cashmere wool, which had been kindly donated by a Scottish cashmere producer, elevating my collection to a more luxury market segment.
It’s clear that you put sustainability at the forefront of everything you do, how has it played a role in your garments and creation process?
I’ve always been an eco-conscious designer, but I am aware that there is always room to improve and learn more. I wanted to push my design process by developing sustainable practices within the creation of my collection. Triumphing hand-dyeing and eco-printing, I educated myself and found ancient recipes of how Scots used their surrounding to create beautiful organic colours, I then brought these techniques over to the 21st century, by creating one-of-a-kind prints on sustainable bamboo and vegan peace silks.
"I educated myself and found ancient recipes of how Scots used their surrounding to create beautiful organic colours"
What stands out, is the sheer size of your pieces, what was the inspiration for you to create such voluminous knits?
The large over-sized knitwear reflects a tapestry of my history as a Scottish designer through silhouette and texture. The blend of large statement pieces, resemble the rugged landscapes of the Scottish mountains interlaced with the earthy tones, making up my colour palette. Reverting back to old craft methods such as the eco-printing and knitting to implement sustainability throughout my collection, also served as an inspiration for the silhouette.
What have you learnt from this collection and how will you apply this in your future collections?
This collection has allowed me to develop and grow as a designer. I viewed my homeland from a new perspective, taking inspiration and techniques from its past and reinterpreting them into the future of Scottish fashion. The COVID-19 pandemic cut my time at university short, putting a pause on the completion of my graduate collection. This has taught me to utilise every moment and opportunity within the design process. While being isolated in lockdown, I am reminded of the importance of being surrounded by like-minded and driven creatives and look forward to future collaborations in a post-lockdown future.
"I viewed my homeland from a new perspective, taking inspiration and techniques from its past and reinterpreting them into the future of Scottish fashion"
See Chloe Innes's full collection
Words by Lupe Baeyens