Natural Progression with Nanna van Blaaderen

Nanna-Van-Blaaderen-SAprint-AW15-1Dutch designer Nanna van Blaaderen is a specialist in the world of knitwear. Prior to launching her eponymous line, she worked as a consultant for Maison Martin Margiela and other fashion houses. Through continual research, Van Blaaderen developed a sustainable alternative to fur, made from merino wool. This breakthrough led to the launch of her label in 2011, combining her love for nature and animals with the craft of making garments.

“It’s in my DNA,” says Van Blaaderen. “My father was a sculptor, my mother a textile designer. Subconsciously, I combine these two worlds, and while they are completely different, it does have an impact on my signature.”

While once recognised for her heavy sculptural knits, she has since refined her collections, designing the creamy wool wearables with women in mind. Van Blaaderen’s simple silhouettes and quality craftsmanship led to her winning the 2015/16 International Woolmark Prize Europe regional final in the category of womenswear. Aware of the global recognition she will receive at next February’s International Woolmark Prize womenswear final in New York, she is preparing for growth, focusing on the collection and building her team.

Currently, her sustainable collections and homewear exclusives are available only to private clients in the Netherlands and neighbouring countries. The International Woolmark Prize will enable her to make the necessary changes to expand her production and distribution without jeopardising her craft. Embracing her affinity for experimentation and pushing boundaries with textiles, Van Blaaderen hints that her next development is combining knitting and lace.

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SomethingAboutCRAFT…

“The collection for the Woolmark Prize Europe was made by hand, and I have 20 more ideas for the next collection. You get so inspired by the process of designing, especially when working with your hands. Today, many people design by computer or only by drawings, but you miss out on the beauty of discovering the identity of each different yarn and material. Every country should maintain its own craft and industry to keep this richness, or it all gets very shallow. I work with three factories in my country and we still have quite a beautiful textile industry.”

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SomethingAboutWOMEN…

“I think about what women today need. We are on the run all day and we have to do everything. The only place we maybe feel comfortable is in our home when we can put on our comfy clothes. What I try to offer with my designs is elegance, as well as a sense of comfort and warmth.”

SomethingAbout SUSTAINABILITY…

“I started thinking about how to make sustainable alternatives to fur. Not the synthetic fur you can see everywhere, but really wearable soft, gentle alternatives. This is where my true passions – nature and animals, and making things – come together. I use really high-quality merino wool, which comes from sheep reared on high quality food and no antibiotics, that are sheared once a year and then go back into the fields.”

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WORDS: Janine Leah Bartels

ILLUSTRATION: Kelly Beeman

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