Knitting and crocheting are no longer just hobbies: 3 gen Z creatives explain why – Screen Shot
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Knitting and crocheting are no longer just hobbies: 3 gen Z creatives explain why

In every crisis, there are opportunities looming around and even amid this global pandemic, the same can be said. What was once renowned and beloved by baby boomers has now trickled down generations and become a therapeutic hobby or a grand business opportunity for millennials and gen Zers. When did crocheting and knitting become more than just a craft?

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The summer of 2020 was memorable for many reasons, but for me, knitting in the sun with a gin and tonic by my side takes the trump. From the kaleidoscopic JW Anderson cardigan that started a TikTok trend to independent brands such as @Lulukaalund2 and Hope Macaulay, yarn couture was ‘in’ and crotchet fashion began to dominate every viral runway, as well as pavement. The rest of us are still just joining the craze, but three fashion-conscious creatives in particular adamantly strayed away from the pandemic spectacles and sought relief in their cherished two hooks.

The first of which was from Denmark, after the country went into lockdown on the 11 March, PASTA JESUS was born. The mid-20-year-old behind the independent account spoke to Screen Shot and said, “We had about two months of complete silence, so during the dark and quiet time I tried my hand at making my own colourful pieces.” In a bid to keep her creative and personal life separate, she has requested to remain anonymous.

The first of which was from Denmark, after the country went into lockdown on the 11 March, PASTA JESUS was born. The mid-20-year-old behind the independent account spoke to Screen Shot and said, “We had about two months of complete silence, so during the dark and quiet time I tried my hand at making my own colourful pieces.” In a bid to keep her creative and personal life separate, she has requested to remain anonymous.

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🎨🌺🌹🌷🌸🌼🌻🍄🍄🌾copenhagen is rainy now and for the next 8 months so heres a throw back to better dayZ 🌞#pastajesusbaby

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Around the same time, Megan Turner set up her craft-focused Instagram account to showcase the many socks she was knitting for friends and family, and before she knew it requests came swarming in. She now runs her business from the comfort of her home in Brighton. “My mum taught me to knit when I was seven, I stopped for a couple of years but picked it up last year and haven’t stopped since,” she tells Screen Shot.

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Frills or no frills? 🤔

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In recent years, retailers and consumers are encouraged to shop with conscious awareness—in an attempt to steer clear of fast fashion and landfill excess. Since then, the upheaval of sustainable purchases remains prevalent; apps like Depop are the epitome.

“I’m not interested in creating trend-based pieces or working for seasons,” explains innovator Beth, the face behind @B.clax, “I’m interested in creating high-quality unique knitwear that will last forever.” Four years ago, she took a foundation course and since then, the passion remained prominent. “A piece can take me anytime from a day to a month depending on the intricacy and detail. Nonetheless, they’re guaranteed to be long-lasting, as I only use the best quality yarn,” she said.

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Becky and Harrison at @50mlondon 💚

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Durability and endurance are terminologies every high fashion brand promises when justifying the price tag. However, after the disastrous events of the Rana Plaza factory seven years ago, which demonstrated the façade behind the fashion industry, the inhumane conditions of workers should continue being the key driver for why we must all do better. The pandemic has given like-minded creatives time to bloom; and with climate change still in full swing, people have started creating more and shopping less.

“A vest takes me three weeks to make, a hat a little less, and a sweater a little more. Merino wool is my favourite to work with as the fabric has antibacterial properties, which helps it destroy odours while remaining breathable. It’s perfect for Denmark’s weather which is cold 80 per cent of the time,” said PASTA JESUS’ co-founder.

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For Megan down in Brighton, just one item in her collection takes her eight hours to make, “The bags are the shortest and the Daisy jumper takes a solid three days.” Still, she believes it’s worth the time, “In March, I decided to actively boycott fast fashion and have noticed a real shift in like-minded customers.”

According to an advert I stumbled across on Instagram, “crocheting is not just a hobby, it’s a way of life,” and for some, it really is. Crochet therapy is a thing! It is not only said to work wonders for those with depression and anxiety, but it can also help with insomnia, reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by 30 to 50 per cent, build one’s self-esteem, act as a form of group therapy and, most importantly, put you in control—especially in hopeless moments like lockdowns and isolation.

Did we get it all wrong, could DIY fashion, and not digital fashion, be the future?

Previously, I’ve been the first one to claim the many positives of digital fashion. From its minor impact on climate change to the many ways it could help reduce clothing waste, digital fashion has always been the number one saviour for the fashion industry and therefore, in my mind, the future of fashion.

While not everyone stuck at home has been delving into the crafty world of do-it-yourself (DIY) fashion, new gens certainly have. Could DIY fashion, and not digital fashion, be the future of the fashion industry?

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has had a major impact on the fashion industry. Designers and big fashion brands have been forced to rethink their whole production strategy, and some have struggled to quickly adapt to this new normal. But the situation has also proved to be a new source of creativity.

As Lucy Maguire explained in With Gen Z under lockdown, DIY fashion takes off for Vogue Business, “By tapping into the creative energies of a new generation, brands can build a new kind of customer relationship with potential for the long term.” This doesn’t mean that Prada has encouraged customers to cut their own patterns and create their own iconic Prada headband, but more that brands have resorted to DIY ways in order to interact with their customers.

Instagram tutorials and challenges were marketing strategies that, until recently, were mostly used by smaller brands with minor reach. But since the coronavirus pandemic forced everyone to stay indoors, bigger companies have started using these marketing strategies, too. For example, Alexander McQueen, Dior and Ganni are three brands that encouraged their Instagram followers to participate in different crafty challenges, such as embroidery customisation, sketch or style home shoots.

New gens have clearly stated their desire for uniqueness, and what better way is there to offer it to them than by teaching them how to apply creativity to their favourite brands’ garments? Furthermore, new gens have a strong affinity for ethical brands—upcycling is something that they expect from brands.

Clearly, Dickies saw an opportunity in selling and giving away its deadstock fabrics. As Maguire wrote, this aimed “to establish connection with a burgeoning audience that, in lockdown, is looking for hobbies.” Speaking to 22-year-old Bianca, I asked her about her shopping habits and whether she values ethical brands and the message they promote: “I definitely do care and I try to shop as sustainably as I can. For instance, I tried to not shop at Amazon during quarantine and see if I could buy the things I need locally.” As for DIY fashion, Bianca shared that as much as she wished she could create on her own, she is “incapable of using my hands but did ask my mum to make me a bag from an old pillowcase.”

But what about digital fashion? Is it going out the window? While some might believe the crafty way is the only option for a sustainable future, the Institute of Coding (IoC) proved them wrong in its new three-part IG TV series. In the third episode titled How Can Digital Tech Make Fashion More Sustainable?, Karinna Nobbs, founder of A Hot Second, shares her experience with tackling the issue of the lack of sustainability in the fashion industry and how tech can be a solution.

Screen Shot spoke to Nobbs about digital fashion and what relief it could offer the fashion industry: “We really need to think about how we can make digital fashion more accessible to diverse and forward-thinking digital natives. They’ll no doubt be the ones at the coalface of these changes, so we need to remove some of the barriers to entry in order for it to truly progress.”

Could the COVID-19 crisis accelerate the fashion industry’s shift to digital fashion, as it has done with DIY fashion? Nobbs certainly thinks so: “100% yes, as both brands and consumers look for alternative ways to experience fashion whilst having a more minimal impact on the planet. So now more than ever is the time to encourage the next generation of fashionistas and show the various opportunities that lie in digital fashion. With COVID-19 creating an accelerated shift into digital, we’ll see an even higher demand for coders, software engineers or programmers from all backgrounds, with a specific eye for fashion.”

That being said, it is highly unlikely that DIY fashion will fully replace digital fashion. It seems that we’re entering a new era in fashion where both will coexist and create the well-needed shift the fashion industry needs.

New gens are crafting a new approach to consumption. DIY fashion lets them create and participate in the process, while also offering brands the opportunity to deal with deadstock fabrics and to appeal to the younger generation. Meanwhile, digital fashion has the potential of teaching consumers a more sustainable approach to fashion and its infinite possibilities.

“We are now seeing the rise of DIY digital fashion, which is very exciting,” shared Nobbs. What’s certain is that the future of fashion looks promising—can we just skip forward?