by Ieva Zu

Every time I speak with the Lithuanian sustainable knitwear brand The Knotty Ones, I get inspired and the girls make me really happy. Sandra, Danute and Akvile, coming from a small country by the Baltic sea, are holding the modern sustainability flag. We catch up with The Knotty Ones to talk about their new, even more sustainable business model.

The Knotty Ones artisan - work in progress sustainable knitwear
The Knotty Ones artisan – work in progress

Fashion Bloc: Everyone is talking about the changes in the fashion industry: big brands reducing the number of collections, mixing menswear with womenswear, releasing ‘conscious fashion’ lines – what are your changes?

Sandra: We are all big believers in shopping less, but better. It’s safe to say that that’s the change we want to make in the industry too. The Knotty Ones is all about empowering local artisans and celebrating traditional Northern crafts. We bring handmade quality products that are the complete opposite of fast fashion. We focus on garments that are both seasonless and timeless, will not only be worn all year round but also for five years or longer.

We are all big believers in shopping less, but better

FB: How did you come up with a ‘seasonless’ brand idea?

Danute: All three of us, as many people of our generation, spent our late teens and early twenties chasing trends, emptying shelves of fast fashion brands. Looking back, it’s crazy to think how much money we spent on the items that we’d throw away either after a few washes or at the end of a season. Not only that, by buying these items, we were supporting fast fashion industry, which exploits basic human rights of garment workers and is the second largest polluter in the world. So, the idea of seasonless/timeless pieces that last for years was really born of our own need for investment pieces.

The Knotty Ones sustainable knitwear
The Knotty Ones

FB: Do you see the changes in the consumers’ behaviour as well?

Akvile: I think, millennials as a generation are very conscious consumers. We can definitely observe the changes, consumers get more and more educated about sustainability, ethical supply chain, they feel accountable for what kind of the world they support and create via their daily purchases.

FB: What about the Lithuanian consumers?

Danute: Majority of Lithuanian consumers still prioritise price versus sustainability or ethical aspect. But we do start to feel the wind of change. People look for investment pieces more and mo as opposed to yet another fast fashion item they’ll throw away at the end of the season.

FB: What is your aim with a new business model?

Danute: The Knotty Ones was really born from our own need for a quality knit that had a contemporary feel, was sustainable, wasn’t produced in a sketchy sweatshop and was versatile enough to be worn all year round. Our goal is simple as that. To bring that perfect knit while reducing the number of clothes we buy.

The Knotty Ones sustainable knitwear
The Knotty Ones

FB: What steps does it require?

Akvile: Probably the same steps that you need to succeed in any type of business:

– believe in your idea

– put a lot of energy into it

– live and breath it

FB: How will your supply-chain change?

Sandra: It was always at the core of our brand just maybe not pronounced as such specifically. But I think it’s part of being an innovator, we constantly ask ourselves – how can we do things better, how can we empower our artisans more, how can we reduce our carbon footprint, how can we start the conversation in the industry.

How can we do things better, how can we empower our artisans more, how can we reduce our carbon footprint?

FB: Does it mean you will be able to contract different manufacturers and get better prices with other suppliers?

Akvile: No. We handpick our suppliers and factories that we work with as well as employ local craftswomen. We believe that all human beings are entitled to fair wages, so, unlike many fast fashion brands, we do not intend to get better prices by sacrificing the well-being of our manufacturers and artisans.

The Knotty Ones Work in Progess sustainable knitwear
The Knotty Ones Work in Proges

FB: How big is your new collection?

Sandra: As opposed to releasing collections, we really focus on versatile individual pieces. We currently have 3 signature knits that we keep all year round and are working on introducing a few more next month. To supplement that, we also have a number of limited edition knits – they allow us to experiment with different colours or yarns.

FB: How will your new sustainable knitwear business model affect your customers?

Danute: We do hope to change the way people shop. We hope we can help them create a wardrobe that’s smaller, but more versatile, better quality.

FB: What other disruptive ideas apart from the sustainable knitwear are in your minds?

Akvile: Most of them are really about starting the conversations in the fashion industry, and promoting slow fashion.

The Knotty Ones AW16
The Knotty Ones

April is a month of Fashion Revolution. When all of us, consumers, retailers, designers and agencies, demand the change in the fashion industry and ask the question: who made my clothes? This article is a part of the series ‘Who made my clothes‘ that we will be publishing throughout April.