Tucked away in the heart on the Sneinton Market, two Nottingham students have opened up about their journey on creating knitwear for high end brands including Calvin Klein and Saint Laurent. Maisie Williamson and Inny Kim graduated from Nottingham Trent University in 2016 and set up A3knit shortly before the pandemic hit.
Most of their clients are brands from New York, including the designers Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, DKNY, Tommy Hilfiger and Michael Kors. Mrs Williamson, originally from Cheshire, said that some of their items are being sold for £2,000 by well-established brands worldwide.
The 29-year-old added: "We love the community and art scene in Nottingham, so we looked for a place here to start our business. It just happened that it was set up just before the pandemic hit - it was a challenge definitely.
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"Throughout university we made contacts and they are our clients now. The most expensive item was sold for a couple a couple of grand by other brands.
"When we sell our prototypes, we also sell our copyrights, so we cannot reproduce them once they're sold," she added. "I think that knitwear had a resurgence after the pandemic, before people got very creative during lockdown.
"So people appreciate it more. And now we are definitely seeing a big knitwear revolution."
The pair said they have chosen to open their studio in Sneinton Market thanks to its "young vibes and creativity". Inny Kim, originally from South Korea, 33, said: "We are like the invisible creators behind some expensive high brand items."
"And it is all happening in our small studio," she added. "I remember we once went into an Oscar De La Renta store in London, and I have seen so many of my designs in there - it is just very satisfying knowing that people love and wear what we produce."
However, like so many other businesses, the pair said they have been affected by the cost of living crisis. "Since Brexit, we have noticed that the price of fabric went up. We import the materials from Italy, and we noticed a big change. Our electricity bills also tripled."
Despite the challenges, the young businesswomen have also committed to pay the knitwear students who are on placement at the store. Ms Williamson added: "We want to pass it on, we want to teach other students the tricks of the trade. We have got knitwear students coming from universities around the country."
Alongside the exciting collaborations with brands overseas, the creators are aiming to "give back to society" and get involved in the local creative scene. Ms Kim went on and said: "As someone who is working in the creative industry, you feel like you want to give back to society.
"That is why we wanted to do something, and we have got an exciting collaboration with a young and cool band coming soon. We will create their stage costumes."
The pair have teamed up with local band ALT BLK ERA to create two stage outfits for them. Ms Williamson said: "We really wanted to give something back to the creative scene in Nottingham and came up with the idea of designing performance outfits for an artist at Hockley Hustle.
"We have teamed up with them and ALT BLK ERA to create two amazing stage outfits for them. We are hoping to use this as promotion for all of us, we think it is a great demonstration of different creatives coming together to showcase Nottingham talent."
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