Australian label Poms’ debut knitwear collection is a tribute to slow craft and strong women

WORDS BY Jasmine Alavuk

A designer’s nod to the much-loved matriarchs of her family.

Australian jewellery brand Poms has come a long way over the last 10 years, beginning with pom pom rings and earrings before becoming one of the Australian fashion set’s favourite eyewear and jewellery brands

Now Adriana Giuffrida, the designer behind Poms, has created the debut knitwear collection for her label. Inspired by the strong women in her life, the collection is titled Nodi, which is the Italian word for ‘many knots’, and a nod to the stylish and much-loved matriarchs of her family.

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When I spoke to Adriana about the new range she told me she is feeling more empowered than ever before, creating unique made-to-order pieces that encapsulate  Poms’ ethos: “to be ethical, to be from the heart, to be interesting, to be honest”.

Tell us a bit about your journey with Poms.

So Poms is now entering its tenth year, which is a bit wild to think about. It actually eventuated as a hobby. I was working in production in Sydney for a couple of labels and I was just spending so much time on the computer that I wanted to make things with my hands again. So I started making these little pom pom rings just as a fun thing to do and then a couple of shops were interested and it evolved from there. I started making more pom pom-y things, like pom pom earrings, then I started making eyewear, and it kept growing and evolving in a really organic way. And now, ten years on and two kids later the brand is still going. After last year, and everything that went down in the world, I spent a bit of time thinking about how much I love doing it and how I want to put more energy into it.

When did you decide you wanted to pursue a career in the fashion industry?

Ever since I was really young I knew it was what I wanted to do. I grew up overseas – I didn’t come to Australia until I was 10-years-old. I was born in Hong Kong and lived in Korea. All of my really strong memories as a kid were going to fabric markets and bulk shops with my mum, and being confronted by these incredible colours and patterns and fabrics. She would always make her own clothes. I think I was just very creative from a young age and then she taught me how to make things, and my grandma taught me how to knit and crochet. I’m the youngest in my family and I spent a lot of time on my own making stuff all the time. By the time I finished high school I was laser-focused about getting into the fashion design degree at RMIT, which took me three years to get into.

The fashion industry is notoriously competitive – how did you get your start in it?

When I graduated, I worked at Myer in Melbourne as a buyer’s assistant (I thought I wanted to be a buyer), and then I quickly realised that it wasn’t very creative. After that, I moved to Sydney where I started freelancing for a couple of brands, which was very fashion-y fash-fashion, but that’s when I started playing with trinkets at home to make some jewellery. Making jewellery was not my skill set, but I fell into it and then I started doing jewellery courses to give myself more of an understanding of the things I could make. But fashion is kind of where it all began.

Why the shift into knitwear? It’s quite different compared to your previous work.

Last year my Nonna passed away, who was my last living grandparent and probably the most formative to me in my life. She was also one of many sisters who taught me different things like cross-stitching, crocheting, knitting, garment making and pattern making. When she passed, it made me think about how important she was, and during COVID I was knitting and crocheting – that was what I was doing when I wasn’t working – as a hobby to make me feel good and feel connected to her.

As I was making things, people were noticing and asking if I could make them something. I made a couple of things for people and I thought, ‘Maybe I should do this’. This is what I do, this is what I love, this is what I’m good at, and it feels really important to me at the moment. In addition, I wanted to marry the key elements of the brand, which is to be ethical, to be from the heart, to be interesting, to be honest, and to invite people a bit more into my world and who I am.

What was the process of creating this collection through COVID like? Were there any challenges you didn’t expect?

I think what it really outlined to me is that I really wanted it to be made here in Australia, and to be made by hand, by people that I could talk to, work with and send things to. So that way I didn’t need to rely on shipping overseas or timelines that were unreasonable. But it does, in turn, ask the customer to be patient, because everything is made to order. Some of the pieces can take up to 20 to 30 hours to be made. I’m making things, and I also have a team of knitters and crocheters who are helping me.

What do FJ readers need to know about the new collection?

That it’s a collection that is really inspired by slow craft and strong women; really honouring all these really beautiful strong women that I’ve had in my life that have each added to my skill set, and added to my love of creating pieces for people to wear – whether it be eyewear, jewellery or knitwear. All of these women have created such an important part of my life, and this is just a tribute to them and all of the skills that they’ve passed down to me. As well as this, I wanted to make the pieces really wearable, modern and interesting.

The colour palette is like gelato – everything that I do is a nod to my Italian heritage – and then the shapes are reminiscent of the ’90s. I even remembered a family holiday to Greece when I was a teenager (there’s heaps of crocheted stuff in Greece) and I really wanted this skirt, but Mum wouldn’t let me have it. So I made a version of the skirt that I wish I could’ve had back then. A lot of my work is very nostalgic. I want people to know that this is a very honest collection, it’s very true to who I am, and moving forward it’ll always be that way. 

What does this year look like for Poms? Do you see a further expansion into apparel?

Yes. This is the first collection and I’m working on the Autumn/Winter one now. We’ve got some new eyewear coming out as well, which is arriving in the next couple of weeks. I feel like Poms has been a bit dormant for the last couple of years. I’ve always had it happening in the background, and now that my kids are at school, this is it! I’m back. I’ve found a new energy and momentum, and I think the product is really cool and different! I hope other people feel the same. This is just the beginning.

To view Pom’s knitwear collection in full, head here.

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