Amy Hall is a Clapton based knitwear designer, all her pieces are hand knitted using ethically sourced wool. She talks to Darling and Gold about how her brand began, her winter wardrobe must haves and knitted biknis...
Tell us a little about your background and how you started Amy Hall?
Knitting was inescapable for me. Literally in my DNA; programmed at birth. All the women in my family knitted when I was growing up. My grandmother knitted things for me as a baby and my mother has always knitted, so I picked it up at a very early age. Of course, I tried to rebel and escape the family calling by pursuing photography for a while. I made it as far as New York working with Magnum (the photographic agency) but eventually I found my way back to fashion, working with Agent Provocateur after I graduated...which eventually led me to assisting one of my knitwear heroes Claire Tough. During that time I started designing my own knitwear and eventually set up the label. At around the same time I started teaching knitting at Liberty and Central Saint Martins, to pass on the family tradition!
Inspiration is something that I have to work on, day in, day out. It’s so easy to get stuck in a routine, but to create something that connects with people, you need empathy, coupled with an ability to show them something from a new perspective. That’s what inspires people. I visit exhibitions, read constantly (I devour biographies of my heroes – from Grace Coddington to Grace Jones), I travel as much as I can. I do anything that forces me to take a step outside of my everyday life, to view my experiences from someone else’s perspective. It’s then that I find a nugget that becomes the core of one of my collections. A few seasons ago, it was about revisiting the music of my teens; first indy music and more recently, acid house.
Other than of course one of your pieces, What are your five must have wardrobe items for this winter?
In winter I live in my Westwood pirate boots. They’re completely battered, but so comfy and go with everything. I’ve actually amassed three pairs of them! My husband says you shouldn’t wear a hat with shades, but I disagree. I love hats and am beginning to build up quite a collection. And I’d happily wear them with sunglasses, much to my husband’s disdain. I wear a lot of shirts and blouses - silk ones in particular look SO good with knit. As do leather leggings, I have a pair of Helmut Lang ones I wear a lot in the winter months. (Can’t think of anything else, other than knitwear!! Can I have four items??!)
You're an ethical handmade brand, tell us why being so conscious is important to you?
I’ve always been interested in ethical brands. As a child, I wanted to be a vet and animal welfare has always been important. In fact, lately, I’ve been doing a lot of research into health and beauty brands that test on animals and had a massive clear-out of anything by brands who still insist on the practise. But there’s a lot of misunderstanding of what’s ethical out there. Fake news just makes it worse. I was mad when PETA came out a while back and said that they were against wool. Against wool? If a farmed sheep doesn’t lose its winter coat, it overheats, but more importantly the coat gets filthy, causes flystrike and kills the animal. It’s a grim way to go (my beloved rabbit met a similar fate when I was 8). My advice is if you want to do good and have the most positive impact, do your research and don’t believe everything you read.
We all have to start somewhere and we all make mistakes! Tell us your FIRST and WORST fashion items?
The first significant item I made which eventually kick-started the idea for my brand was an absolutely huge cabled cocoon cardigan. I knitted it from a pattern and people kept coming up to me and asking where it was from. I decided to create my own version of it, but with a Japanese kimono-inspired twist. It’s since become one of my best sellers.
My worst is arguably my knitted bikini. It hasn’t sold. Of course it hasn’t. But I had a lot of fun making it, and it was so much fun to shoot. And that’s why I do this. I don’t regret it for a second.
Join us in store on Thursday 28th September 2017 for an evening with Amy Hall. Showcasing new pieces exclusive to Darling and Gold, as well as drinks, discounts and styling tips from the lady herself.