In our latest designer collaboration, we’ve partnered with rising star Katie Ann McGuigan to create the cute, cropped and chequered “New Rules” sweater. The Irish designer has adapted this design from her Spring/Summer 20 collection, which has already been snapped on some familiar faces, check mate!
Katie presented her first collection in 2017, and has won multiple awards for her design work since including the Fashion Scout Merit Award and Mittlemoda Absolute Prize. Katie’s work is inspired by the aesthetic and values of international subcultures, and has become known for her signature prints and textures galore! This is the first time Katie has released one of her designs as a pattern and we’re so excited to welcome her into our global knitwork of gangstas!
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I am from a small town in Northern Ireland called Newry, but have been living in north-western area of London for the past ten years.
Your garments are made in London, why is that important to you?
Producing my collections, from shoes, screen printed sweatshirts and dresses, all the way to the knitwear featured within my collections, locally, is extremely important to me, as it allows me to build a community of incredibly skilled individuals, each playing to their own strength and craftsmanship forte. This also, by default ensures an open line of communication between creatives I work with, allowing them to rely on my brand, and vice versa. I have also made a conscious effort to have my apparel produced in London, as I think sustainability and being environmentally conscious is something every brand should strive towards as best they can. Thus, my designs aren’t shipped across the world for production, reducing the brands footprint.
What was the inspiration behind the sweater you designed?
The sweater was designed as part of our SS20 collection, which was heavily inspired by Bill Yeates photography of 1970’s roller-discos in Tampa, Florida. The photography features imagery where fun was all the rage and worries and woes were nothing but an afterthought – a safe space where anyone and everyone would strap on their blades and stride away to the sound of disco. Patterns, print and colour is always at the forefront of a Katie Ann McGuigan design, all of these combined and featured in this cropped v-neck knitwear piece.
Why do you like to use hand knitting in your work?
Hand knitting is something that is incredibly beautiful, it is a skill that I feel should be highlighted, celebrated and supported. Technology and machinery has advanced in such incredible ways, however the feel and integrity of a hand knitted garment is something extremely special, and unbeatable.
Are you a crafty person, and if so, what are your favourite things to make?
I have always been surrounded by craftsmen and women that worked at my parents bespoke furniture factory. They all have an incredible skill that is also their livelihood. I’d like to believe some of that has rubbed off on me. I have always enjoyed printmaking – as a child that was in the form of potato stamps (who didn’t enjoy those!), now I have practiced different techniques such as screen printing and vinyls. Both feature heavily in my collections. More recently, I have been experimenting with garment dying, I am absolutely hooked!
Have you found yourself being more creative due to us all having to spend our time indoors at the moment?
Since returning to my family home in Ireland, I have been spending my days developing new designs and ideas for future projects. I don’t know if it has forced me to be more creative as such, but being out of the hustle and bustle of London (which, usually I love), I do feel I have gained a new lease of energy.
How is sustainability woven into the story of your brand?
Katie Ann McGuigan focuses on being environmentally conscious and sustainable, without compromising on design. Creating designs and concepts, having these produced and manufactured within the same city, allowing a limitation on travel and shipping, thus considering the impact this makes on the environment. Alongside this, where available, I try to purchase fabrics with recycled raw materials, such as Polyamide and recycled ocean plastics. All knitwear is hand knitted, cutting out the large pollution caused by machinery and mass production. Other environmentally conscious efforts have been made within the studio, minimising excess waste from previous seasons by reusing fabrics for internal testing, draping and sample manufacturing.
Which other sustainably-focused designers and brands do you admire?
The initiative Christopher Raeburn has taken, focusing on responsible production, is something I admire. It is clear that his designs aren’t compromised by remaking, reusing and recycling, whilst focusing those designs to also last for life. That is something that should be celebrated
Katie creates all of her knitwear in partnership with Ruth Herring, a knitwear and crochet designer, author, lecturer and blogger, who has been working in knitwear for nearly 40 years. She has produced knitwear for film, TV, celebrity commissions, her own label, but is probably most well-known for the knitting books she produced in the 1980’s. Ruth, who has collaborated on the knit side on every Katie-Ann McGuigan collection says “Katie’s sense of colour is awesome and WATG is a perfect partner to supply the colour palate in the quality that we require for her luxury brand.