With the seasons changing and autumn arriving, the shelves and racks of fast fashion stores are already overflowing with knitwear. But a well-made knitted piece that will last for decades is a luxury item—but why? Because it takes a hell of a long time to produce. Luckily, there are still brands that take care of good quality autumn pieces and still manufacture locally hand-knitted products that are timeless in every way. How can you run a business like this and what’s the future of knitwear? Interview with Roboty Ręczne from Poland!
We are already familiar with the style and quality of the items available in the shops, and if we are lucky, they can last several seasons of regular washing before they have to be thrown away as they wear out. Back in the old days, everybody knit—we often hear—and in some ways, this relaxing activity is also having its renaissance now. However, let’s face it, few people can knit at a pace that makes them truly wearable for the season. How does this passion evolve, how does a hobby become a brand?
When and how was Roboty Ręczne born?
Roboty Ręczne was born in 2011, but we already started to make knitwear in 2009 under the brand Baba Knitwear. Baba was our idea with my Mum. Then I took a break to do my internship in Tom Dixon’s studio in London, and I came back with plenty of ideas and was ready to run my own brand. That—in a nutshell—was our beginning.
What does tradition mean to the brand, and why is it important?
It means everything! I’ve always had this feeling, that my Grandma’s hobby was a reason why I fell in love with knitwear. She taught my Mum knitting. I still have one of the first pairs of socks that my Grandma knit for me. Also, I’m trying my best to wear most of the sweaters my Mum made for me. Last week, I worn one from 25 years ago—still fits me and still beautiful— knitted from cashmere and alpaca wool, super soft and timeless.
The brand loves crafts and ageless design, but what makes knitwear so timeless, and why is it exciting to you?
When most products are bought just for one season, I feel like I go in the opposite direction. I want people to know that there is another way—a way out from this crazy world of super fast consumption. I’m trying to open the door to this world for the people who think like me.
If you knit a sweater with care and precision from high-quality yarns, it takes 7-14 days. This process is expensive but also convinces people to buy less. They spend more money, but they buy for a more extended period. From the beginning of RR, I’ve had this idea to make knitwear for generations. Why not? I can care more about my designs and my Clients when selling less but better quality. From my first Clients, I know it’s starting to work already! They wear their mum’s sweaters, or they keep their pieces for their children. This melts my heart.
Most people immediately think of cold seasons when it comes to knitwear, but Roboty Ręczne is seasonless. Are there any challenges when it comes to design to make knitwear fit all seasons and styles?
My head is so full of ideas I can’t think of problems caused by weather. Luckily, wool is breathable and can be worn all year round. Besides, there are evenings where it gets cold even in summertime, so trust me—a good sweater is always a must-have. Apart from sweaters, we also make summer pieces such as beachwear, tops, skirts, and light dresses or bags—all seasonless, made to be loved.
What does the future hold for knitwear, and how will it evolve?
I have no answer for that. My brand is mainly driven by my emotions. I think my mission of making people start loving knitwear is coming to life now. I hope we’ll go (back) to customize our wardrobe, make clothes to last for ages. I think knitwear will become more and more present in our lives; knitting at home, at work, at school, on the bus—it’ll be future yoga and meditation, I hope.
Photographer: Marek Ogien
Stylist: Anna Akincza
Make-up & hair artist: Magda Chmielewska
Model: Klaudia Elwart