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New Zealand label Frisson Knits is taking over Instagram, one mohair jumper at a time

PHOTOGRAPHY BY OLIVIA RENOUF
WORDS BY ELEANOR WILSON

A soft embrace from across the ditch.

I’m unsure if Instagram’s OG influencers have finally reached the ‘settle down’ stage, or if recurrent COVID lockdowns are what’s causing us to replace Sunday hangovers with Sunday markets. Whatever it is, I’ve noticed a stark shift in the content on my Instagram feed as of late.

Boozy birthday pics and glitzy European holidays are somewhat of a distant memory, while communal summer lunches, freshly picked flowers, and snug bedspread snaps are providing a wholesome update to my daily scroll.


Head to our Fashion section for more local designers.


And nestled among this new wave of down-to-earth content lies a soft ball of mohair-fluff, in the form of Kiwi knitwear label Frisson KnitsFounded by Charlotte Jennings and her mum Belinda, the family-owned knitwear label has Instagram, and the global fashion scene, by the sharp points of its seasoned knitting needles.

If you’re anything like me, your IG feed is a minefield of Frisson Knits’ content (a warmly welcomed minefield, of course). But as I scroll past countless snaps of delicately hand-knitted, cruelty-free mohair sweaters, I find myself dangerously close to splurging my tax return on a cozy Becca cardi.

Deep in an icy cold Melbourne winter, I deemed it the perfect opportunity to speak to Charlotte about the grand resurgence of knitwear, and her intimate team of TV-watching super knitters. 

Thanks so much for chatting with me today Charlotte. Can you tell our readers about how Frisson Knits started?

Sure! It kind of just started with me and my mum, just knitting in winter in front of the television. She taught me how to knit when I was quite young and she was always quite into it, so I guess we just used to sit in front of the TV and knit sweaters! That’s kind of how it started. 

Knitwear is somewhat of a niche avenue to go down in fashion, what made you decide to focus on handmade knits specifically?

I guess I really enjoy the craft. I really enjoy creating something that comes from nothing pretty much! You start off with just a couple of balls of wool, and then you can create this amazing sweater. I think when I started, handknitting wasn’t so prominent… there were only a few others doing it and it wasn’t such a big thing. So I sort of had it in my head that I wanted to create this perfect sweater that was great to wear during the day and then also at night. So it kind of started from just wanting to knit for myself and make a perfect knit really! 

Where do you source inspiration for your pieces?

I guess I look at different eras. I find eras really inspiring, like the ’60s, the ’70s, the ’80s, how they changed, what kind of knitwear was popular, because knitwear was so prominent back then. So that’s kind of where I take my inspiration from I would say, yeah!

Do you have a personal favourite piece from the label?

The Isabella is my favourite because it was the first style we ever did, and I still wear it every winter because it’s such an easy throw on and it goes with everything. And then we just brought out the new Annie, which is really nice. It’s a lot more lightweight so it’s kind of good for more of a summer cardi as well. It’s really easy to throw on and it fits really nicely, and It’s good for all different body shapes, which I think is really nice because our knitwear is one size fits all, just because of production.

 

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Could you tell us about how sustainability and ethical practices play a role in your business?

Yeah, sure! When we started, we wanted to make sure everything was done in New Zealand, [because] we can follow every step, we really make an effort to talk to different companies, talk about their processes and how everything is done and keeping it really small and making sure we don’t have any waste. I guess handknits are quite good for that because everything is handmade so if something does go wrong you can undo it and redo it. 

Take me through the production process of your average Frisson piece.

So we get the yarn and then we sort through it and get it all delivered to our office. We have different knitters who do different things and we send [the yarn] out to them every week and we get them back. So they just knit from home, take their time, so that’s why we also have a bit of a long wait on pieces because they’re at home doing it as they watch telly and stuff. There’s not too much to hand knitting, pretty much you get the yarn, you get the needle and you knit it.

There’s no machinery involved, I guess maybe with the yarn-making process, but the actual production is nice and easy. But I mean it does take a long effort, you have to create really good relationships with your knitters. All knitters knit differently, so it is quite a big process and most of our knitters we have, we’ve had since we started. We will get more if we get bigger, but a lot of them have been with us for three-plus years.

 

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Frisson is really taking the fashion world by storm at the moment, what do you think people love so much about your garments?

Maybe the wearability and the colours? Also, the yarn is so beautiful. I think it’s a statement in itself to have something more simple, and with such a statement yarn it really works. I think maybe another reason is you can wear it from day to night so it’s very wearable I think. And after COVID i think people are looking for cozy [clothing] and fashion isn’t as dressy as it used to be. And knitwear has had a real big comeback as well. 

What are you hoping to do with Frisson Knits next? Do you have any big projects coming up?

Yeah! Right now I’m actually going to try to work on a crochet line for summer. I’ve never really worked with crochet before, so I think it will be an exciting new thing to give a go. We want something first off for the New Zealand/Aus market when it’s our summer, so that’s really what we’re doing now. And then just working on new styles!

To shop your next winter knit staple, head here. 

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