You’re in the Gang
Founded two years ago by Lisa Sabrier and Carolyn Main, the boho-chic knitting fashion company Wool and the Gang makes limited-edition, hand-knitted items, along with patterns that enable customers to make their own fashions. The brand, which found an improbable incubator in the form of hard-partying Parisian brand Balmain, works with a close team of knitters from Peru, bringing their designs to the most fashionable shops in the world—Colette in Paris, Barneys, The Smile and the Standard Hotel in New York, and Isetam in Japan. Interview met two of the label’s young designers, 25-year-old Aurélie Popper and 24-year-old and Jade Harwood in their cozy shop on Thompson Street in Soho.
MALKA GOUZER: Where did you meet?
AURELIE POPPER: We studied together at St. Martins in London and then did an internship together for Balmain in Paris.
JADE HARWOOD: Yes, and it is really through this experience at Balmain that we learned how to cooperate with one another and to work in a high-pressure environment.
GOUZER: So you have always been a team?
HARWOOD: Yes. We complement each other. Aurélie is an early-morning worker and is more task-oriented than I…
POPPER: Jade is more of a dreamer, but in a good way, and she is also really good with remembering people and names. My weaknesses are her strengths, and vice-versa.
GOUZER: Who is “The Gang?”
POPPER: The Gang began with the people working for the brand, but Wool and the Gang is also a community of people who are interested in hand-craft, who share the same values and who appreciate the work behind each product.
HARWOOD: I think that knitting is also about sharing time and moments together as you learn it from someone. So, as soon as you pass on the skills, the gang gets bigger.
GOUZER: What’s different about Wool and the Gang?
HARWOOD: The difference between us and other brands is that we have our designs but you can also make them yourself.
POPPER: So, that explains why the design is so important: not only does it have to look good but it also needs to be simple enough for an unprofessional knitter to make.
HARWOOD: The production is also another particularity that differentiates us from other fashion brands. As we are not aiming for mass production, so our timescale is very different from most clothing brands.
POPPER: Also, our wool comes exclusively from Peru and we collaborate closely with the farmers and the knitters, who often live in remote areas in the Peruvian mountains.
HARWOOD: It’s really a labor of love.
GOUZER: What kind of buyers do you target?
HARWOOD: Anyone from age seven to 70. In our generation the knitting craft almost disappeared, at least for young people, which is really sad.
POPPER: This is why Wool and the Gang also aims at encouraging younger people to go back to knitting. Knitting tends to bear a negative connotation, at least among young subjects and this is really a shame. Its really an extraordinary craft and it’s a tradition that shouldn’t disappear. This is why we propose patterns that are extremely easy to understand and to follow. If you go in yarn shops, the patterns offered are often outdated and complicated to follow.