There's nothing quite like a quarter life crisis to shake things up and for very selfish reasons, we are so glad that Wendy had hers when she did. With her new range of luxurious and sculptural knitwear now in store at ecoHaven, we wanted to learn more about our favourite knitwear designer.
Tell us about your background? What did you study and what led you to designing and making incredible knitwear?
In my previous life I worked for large corporate organisations and when I turned 28 I had a quarter life crisis. My 'career' at that point had always seemed temporary; it certainly wasn't what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I remember thinking rather dramatically – if I wanted to do something different – now was the time – before it was too late.
I changed everything: I quit my job, broke up with my boyfriend, moved house and went back to studying textiles full time. In retrospect, those first 6 months were incredibly stressful, but ultimately rewarding.
I established my label and designed my first collection whilst completing an Advanced Diploma in Clothing and Footwear at RMIT University. I'd always worked for others in the past, so starting my own thing was the only path that interested me.
I have always been a knitter, I learnt whilst young, I use to knit and crochet outfits for my dolls when I was in primary school. Whilst in high school a family friend taught me how to follow knit patterns; so armed with the Jenny Kee book of knit patterns – I was away.
Unfortunately these days I don't hand knit – my work is now on hand knit and industrial machines.
How would you describe your work? What influences your unique aesthetic?
I would describe my work as contemporary, minimal and thoughtful.
My designs reflect my interest in the interplay between form and function, and how one informs the other. I find beauty in the structure and engineering behind a garment, and my garments are very much sculpted to the body.
Can you give us an insight into your creative process?
My work is quite deliberate, I find that knitting for the body is quite a mathematical process. The repetitive and meditative nature of the work creates space for my subconscious to come up with ideas and innovative solutions based on traditional ideas and methods.
I make, I don't have a mood or inspiration board, I don't sketch - except in a very technical way to gather my thoughts on how my ideas can be executed.
After I make, I try it on, I drape it on the mannequin, I'll put it on sideways, upside down, put my head through what was suppose to be an armhole, I'll pull and twist fabric until something feels 'right'. Then I try and work out a method – as to how it can be made, how I can tell others how to make it and how to make it for different sizes.
What is your favourite fibre to work with?
Merino wool hands down, it's a warm and relatively affordable fibre that wears well. The yarn has a 'bounce', things made with merino don't tend to stretch and get out of shape, compared to other fibres.
What is a typical work day for you?
One of the perks of working for yourself – is there isn't necessarily a typical work day. But in general when I'm in studio I like to wake up early, and either go for a walk or do some yoga. Before heading into the studio I will sit down at my favourite local with a coffee, so that I can gather my thoughts for the day and come up with a to do list.
What do you see in the year ahead for Wendy Voon Knits?
I will be travelling Australia, selling my pieces at design markets, a part of my job that I very much enjoy. I will be focusing much more on sharing my label with a wider audience, so I'm hoping to see my work featured more in both print and on-line publications. It's also a year for taking stock of where my business is at and where I would like to take it in the future.