Celebrating the British fishing industry through fashion, doesn’t sounds like an easy task but the Bath Spa Fashion Design graduate Hannah Stote merges both effortlessly in her intricate pastel-coloured knits. Her creative collection made heads spin at Graduate Fashion Week, awarding her with the Catwalk Knitwear Award as well as featuring in the September issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK. Showcasing timeless elegance while implying a zero-waste philosophy, Fashion Crossover London time travelled back to 18th century England with Hannah Stote.
With your graduate collection, you aim to revive craft and wool in your collection, why does this bear such an importance to you?
I have always been interested in different craft techniques, when I was researching the ganseys, I realised just how much the work hours and skills go into crafting these jumpers. Craft is usually reserved for high-end couture, I wanted to show that traditional techniques have a significant place in fashion. Many craft techniques have a strong historical background, which embodies the garment with a strong historical connection to the past, something really important as we aim to m one away from highly unsustainable fast fashion. Wool was the first fibre I worked with on a knitting machine, and it stuck. I always try to find way to make my work more sustainable, wool is renewable and biodegradable fibre and is often over looked in favour to acrylic or plaster yarns. As my entire collection is based around the integral British fishing industry, it felt natural to work with British wool.
"Craft is usually reserved for high-end couture, I wanted to show that traditional techniques have a significant place in fashion"
Your collection takes inspiration from British traditional fishing industry, did this inspire you to focus on knitting as your main technique used throughout the collection?
Knitwear provides you with complete versatility and can create your own unique, I actually enrolled in a fashion design course, but educated myself in my free time by taking knitwear courses. I’ve always loved textile and been drawn to designers like Rodarte and Simon Rocha who use a lot of tactile craft techniques in their work, so it felt almost natural to go down that route. My main source of inspiration, is knitwear designer Sandra Buckland, who plays a lot with scale and volume. Initially, I intended to only have two or three knitted elements to the collection – as I made more samples, I transformed into a fully-knitted collection.
You focus on slow fashion, what made you so passionate about sustainability and zero waste in your collection?
I wouldn’t say it was a particularly conscious choice – growing up we were always encouraged to only buy what we really needed and upcycle something rather than buy new – so it’s a concept that has always been built into my design process. There are so many ways a designer or maker can be sustainable and there is no one right way to do it. For me, it begins with my material choices – choosing yarns and fibres that are natural and renewable, so the production of my work can have as little an impact on the environment as possible. My final year dissertation researches waste in the fashion industry, specifically post-consumer waste, and that made me consider the end life of my garments. Zero waste production is admittedly a lot easier to do when constructing your own fabric, so I made sure all my pieces were fully fashioned on the machine rather than cut and sewn – by not breaking any of the yarn, it could be unraveled and the yarn reclaimed, ready to be knitted with again, honing in on the circular design and production concept.
"Zero waste production is admittedly a lot easier to do when constructing your own fabric, so I made sure all my pieces were fully fashioned on the machine rather than cut and sewn – by not breaking any of the yarn, it could be unraveled and the yarn reclaimed, ready to be knitted with again, honing in on the circular design and production concept."
What’s striking about your collection, is the use of brightly colour pastels for your knits, how did you develop this colour palette?
For my colour palette I was inspired by the bright and multi-coloured nets and ropes used in commercial fishing. These are normally made in fluorescent nylon, as I believed neon wouldn’t match well with my desired aesthetic, I started thinking what happens to the nets after they have been extensively used, heavily faded due to the sun and salty waters and wash up on the shores. This pastel colour palette perfectly conveyed the age, lived-in feel I wanted my collection to have.
I believe congratulations are in order, as you won the Catwalk Knitwear Award for your Graduate Collection in 2019, how was it receiving this award?
Coming from a non-London based university, it was special enough to be able to show in London in front of lots of people from industry so to be included in the Gala Show and end up winning the Catwalk Knitwear Award was beyond anything than I had ever expected. It was incredibly flattering and I was quite surprised to be recognised by Graduate Fashion Week for my skills in knitwear design, especially considering I had only been knitting for nine months at that point!
"It was incredibly flattering and I was quite surprised to be recognised by Graduate Fashion Week for my skills in knitwear design, especially considering I had only been knitting for nine months at that point!"
Discover Hannah Stote's full collection
Words by Lupe Baeyens