Rope, leather, suede, wood, hemp, bone and feathers may sound like an unconventional combination of materials, but Australian ‘Knots & Knits’ designer Megan Todd shows us that a touch of creativity can transform the oddest of materials into a wonderful creation! Candis Alicia Hickman, host of the BlackWater StyleLounge, talks to Megan about her life and inspirations. View the full interview after the jump
Q. You create designs based on knitting techniques. What drove you to learn the art of knitting in a country known for having a warm climate about 75% of the year?
Megan. When I was first taught to knit in fashion college, I absolutely loved it straight away. Of course, I didn’t pick it up naturally. I had huge holes and uneven scarves but that’s what I loved most about it; the rawness and that really there are no mistakes! After completing a knitting scholarship in my final year of fashion college I learnt to start using all different mediums, needle sizes and multiple yarns. I have always loved knitting and knitwear – especially the chunky oversized designs. Knitting itself is actually very relaxing. I would always knit oversized scarves for myself and friends only to wear, as you say, 25% of the year!
Q. What inspired you to tailor knitwear designs to fit with the popular culture (i.e. beach life) in Australia?
Megan. Many things! Aside from my love of knitwear, it also frustrated me that I could never wear any of my amazing knits because I live on the coast in Queensland; the hottest part of Australia! After working for James Long in London in 2011 I was itching to come home and do my own thing! I have always felt that knitwear for the hotter climates is a major niche and surely there is a way to overcome the classic knit. So I started experimenting with styles and mediums such as lightweight cotton roping, making slouch bags and oversized bags, and then incorporating bright colours to create bold clutches!
Q. You use a unique and artful combination of materials in your creations. Can you explain your choices and what themes you pursue in your designs?
Megan. I have always loved natural materials. I am just so drawn to them and they can so easily inspire me. I also think as humans we have primal instincts, and staying so connected with natural products and the textures they provide, I feel people can really connect to that. So I will play with anything that is natural or can be wound around a knitting needle!
The only theme I try to pursue in my designs, is having no fear. No fear of making a mistake, no fear of the outcome or of what people will think as fear is what stops the creative flow. And I think that spreads to the people that purchase my designs – as the designs are quite a statement within themselves. I also love combining an overload of texture and colour and raw fibres. So I will always play with these concepts when designing.
Q. You spent time studying fashion in Italy and working in the United Kingdom. What are two of the most valuable lessons related to design + fashion that you learnt from your time abroad?
Megan. The two most valuable lessons would definitely be the love and creative process behind your designs, mixed with the importance of smart business to survive in this industry.
The knowledge I gained in Italy was so creatively profound. Unlike the western world, the Italians design with so much thought and emotion; each piece is like a well thought out artwork that contributes to the global story the collection is telling. While in the UK, I worked for knitwear genius James Long & esteemed label Antipodium. Both of which taught me the essence of high quality product; what’s involved in producing high quality garments stocked in the likes of Selfridges, Harvey Nichols & Louisa Via Roma.
There is so much love and genuine pride in each garment over there, it was refreshing to take a break from the mass produced and replicated industry we have over here. It was the single thing that inspired me to come home, and pour my heart and soul into my own label.
Luckily, I have always had a good business head and a genuine love for that side of the industry. So I was always picking up business tips along the way, and understanding the importance of knowing your business inside and out; from accounts and tax to PR and manufacturing. And of course, always treating every single person that supports your label in someway, whether a buyer, journo or your intern, with the utmost respect.
Q. You haven’t always been Megan Todd ‘Knots and Knits’ designer. Tell me about life before Knots and Knits, and what experiences have influenced your work today.
Megan. Upon graduation from college, I won a scholarship to study a short Masters in Art & Fashion at Polimoda in Florence, Italy. After coming home, I gained my first job in the industry as Design Assistant at Billabong Australia. Working my way up to become Ladies Garment Designer. It was there I learnt a wealth of knowledge about offshore manufacturing processes, business skills, budgets, managing a team and dealing with huge corporations. Following that, I won an Australian Government scholarship to work abroad in London, UK. It was there I lived and worked out of East London for Antipodium and James Long. By this time, I was itching to create my own stuff specializing in Australian knitwear – so I decided to return home and create Knots & Knits!
Q. What is the most rewarding aspect of being a designer?
Megan. Total creative freedom. The outcome. Followed by the appreciation of the public!!
Q. When can we expect to see your designs on the global market?!
Megan. I would love to have my designs on the global market! It is quite a handful trying to keep up with the Australian market at the moment! Although I have two fabulous interns who help me make the products, it is all hand made and very time consuming. And obviously I want to keep it all hand made by my team here in Australia – so I will have to come up with some processes to allow for global growth! Right now I am loving growing organically and I think a strong steady growth is far better than a rapid growth that could end in disaster! Also, I am not really in it for the money right now, I am just trying to send a strong clear brand message out there, and allow people to be apart of the that!
To learn more about the Knots & Knits check out Megan Todd’s website at: