As Yorkshire knitwear label Needle launches its SS16 collection, Stephanie Smith discovers how the brand has made great strides despite its tender years.
Something has happened with knitwear in recent years. It’s gone from being a mere clothing must-have to an actual bona fide fashion must-have, with ever more beautiful knitted creations featuring as key pieces on the catwalks of international designer collections, and designer knitwear labels such as Sibling and Pringle of Scotland leading directional high fashion.
It was the dream of combining contemporary design with quality, luxury and a dash of fun that led to the development of knitwear label Needle. And, as a measure of its success to date, Needle last year began a collaboration with Anthropologie, the US-based fashion and homes store that “curates” its offer from creative, quirky, artistic designers and brands from around the world.
Anthropologie has around 200 stores across America and also has branches in London, Bath and Edinburgh, including a flagship on Regent Street. There also are plans to open a shop in Leeds later this year, in the new Victoria Gate shopping centre.
It’s an honour to be asked to collaborate with the company, and a development that shows just how far Needle has come in a relatively short period of time.
“Anthropologie has pushed our boundaries and enabled us to try lots of different colour we wouldn’t have done on our own,” says Needle founder Lizzie Burckhardt. “The collections are always small, but we believe it is better to do small collections that are really strong and people love wearing, rather than too many average options.”
This spring/summer Needle is launching four new styles with Anthropologie and is currently working with them on next season’s range. “As always, autumn is a strong season for us, so we spend this time of year building up,” Lizzie says.
Based in Northallerton, Needle was launched in 2013 by North Yorkshire entrepreneur Lizzie when she was 27. She grew up in Ilkley and Harrogate and, after university, worked at UK modern heritage brand LK Bennett as part of a clothing product development team specialising in knitwear.
There she met designer Emma Baressi, who had previously worked at Burberry. When she decided to set up Needle, she asked Emma to join as chief designer. And so they launched the Needle brand of beautiful knitwear pieces to wear all year round, every day of the week. The styles are made in China, mostly in cashmere and merino, and Lizzie and Emma take time over style and fit to make sure all the pieces are wearable and flattering.
The new collection launches online this month. “Spring/summer is always a challenging collection, as knitwear is not necessarily in people’s first thoughts,” says Lizzie.
The solution is to offer a fresh, playful and ultra-wearable range of luxe staples that work all year round, in cotton, cashmere and silk-linen blends. The colour palette includes nudes, corals and a range of blues, and features stripes and tactile stitch textures.
“Comfortable but stylish,” is how Lizzie describes the designs. “We make sure our necklines are flattering – the Ella striped top has a high neck trim detail, very Audrey Hepburn.”
There are sporty details too with unexpected flashes of colour on the cuffs and the inside of the hems.
“This season we have introduced the Emma, which is our basic top, in merino-silk blend yarn, which is beautiful next to the skin, and simple but has shoulder detailing and finishes to make it not just a basic, but everyday wearable.”
As well as online, Needle is now stocked in 17 boutiques across the UK, and growing all the time. The new SS16 campaign seen here was shot in and around a studio in Shoreditch to achieve the contemporary city vibe that Lizzie wants, showcasing knitwear that can bring a distinctive contemporary edge to your wardrobe, whatever the weather.
The Needle SS16 collection is available online at www.needle boutique.com from this month and is stocked in Yorkshire at Susan Gaunt Boutique in Harrogate and at Upstairs Downstairs in Ripon. Older stock is also sold at Boundary Mill Colne.