Knitwear designer Laerke Bagger’s knitwear is some of the most intricate and stunning slow fashion around. Meet her and discover her exceptional bead and knitwear mash ups…
Based in Copenhagen, knitwear designer Laerke Bagger shuns the usual Scandi muted palette for bold colours, bright beads and unique shapes to create jumpers that belong on a catwalk.
As well as running her own brand of high-end handmade knitwear, Laerke also works as a knitting pattern designer and as the creative director of Hjertegarn, a 90-year-old yarn and knitting company. Taking inspiration from traditional techniques, Laerke creates truly unique knitwear and has designed for big names such as Sister by Sibling, Roland Mouret, Victoria Beckham, Alexander McQueen, and Danish menswear label Soulland.
We caught up with the mum-of-one to find out how she combines a traditional aesthetic with fashion forward designs and how her love of knitting started with one simple scarf…
Hi Laerke, how does where you live reflect your style?
I live in Copenhagen, which is such an incredibly stylish city. People take a lot of pride in how they dress and look, so just walking down the street is inspiring. The so-called ‘Scandi look’ tends to be a bit downplayed in colour, pattern and shape and my objective is to challenge that style. I’d love for the Scandinavians to wear more colour and be bolder in their choice of clothing. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the black and beige jumper as much as the next person, but I love colours and patterns so much, that my work sometimes feel like I’m running a one woman revolution in the name of humour and colour!
Where do you find inspiration?
I have a huge collection of vintage knitting books and magazines that I use almost every day. I’ve been collecting them since I was a teenager – even before I knew I wanted to work as a knitwear designer. I’ve purchased most of the books in thrift stores and they are probably my most treasured items. I have the greatest respect for the tradition and history surrounding the craft and the knowledge you get from these books is overwhelming. They just don’t make books like that anymore.
You’ve worked with some of the biggest names in fashion – how did it feel to go it alone?
I was a wreck, but only for the first week. I’ve actually always worked alone, so I just needed to wrap my head around it. I’ll be honest though, I actually prefer working in a team. It’s just nicer to have someone to ping pong ideas with and, in my experience, two minds work better than one.
What does your workspace look like?
I have a lot of yarn, and I mean a LOT! So, naturally, I have to keep order in my workspace. Everything is colour coordinated in transparent boxes. The colours on display are a great inspiration to me and I often rearrange boxes to spot new potential. I share a studio with five other textile designers that specialise in other areas of textile design, such as printing and weaving. We all know each other really well, and it’s fantastic to have this great resource of knowledge, materials and inspiration surrounding me every day.
What does your average day look like?
My average working day starts at 8am and ends at 4pm. I could easily work all day and night, but having a one-year-old daughter requires a lot of planning and focus. I’ve become a lot better at making a quick decision and staying on point in my design process. Some days I don’t do any knitting at all but instead focus on sketches, collages and research for new designs. I feel very privileged to have such a diverse work life.
Where does your love of knitting come from?
I was a very creative and crafty child. My friends all enjoyed playing outside, while I preferred to draw, embroider, crochet and, of course, knit. My mom was a great inspiration. She makes these giant embroidered medieval tapestries that would take at least a year to finish. She taught me to knit when I was eight, although I kept it as a secret so my friends wouldn’t tease me, although no one did when they eventually found out what I really spent my Sundays doing.
What project are you proudest of?
My beaded jumpers. They are a combination of really hard work and a lot of experimenting with materials and colours. Every part in the process requires a lot of time. The beads are collected from vintage jewellery or bought in different Middle Eastern markets. Nothing about the colour, size or material of the bead is random and some of the jumpers have over 25,000 beads on them. The jumpers are all hand knitted by me and take about a month to make. It’s the very definition of slow fashion.
Name three things you can’t live without?
- Scotch tape
- Proper lighting in my studio
What does making mean to you?
Making to me means pushing boundaries. It means exploring opportunities and always being curious. It’s looking inward and reaching outward. It means never standing still and always moving forward.