Who wudda thunk that shops would be re-ordering jumpers in a spring summer season? Cue a sexy Marks & Spencer food voice because "This isn't just any old ordinary jumper. This is a Jonathan Saunders oval knit jumper." Can you hear the seductive tone oozing out of my voice? Are you creaming yourself yet? You might do by the time you've scrolled to the end of this post.
Net-a-Porter is the stockist biggie who has just re-ordered this special Saunders jumper because people can't seem to get enough of his waffly knits in pastel hues. Holli Rogers, NAP's fashion director explains why. "Jonathan Saunders has a loyal customer base who go to him season-on-season for his beautiful silk prints and clever use of color. For spring summer his collection was a confection of candy and fit perfectly with the mood of the season. These minimalistic waffle knit sweaters in jade and blush felt really fresh. Coupled with a fantastic price point, we knew our customers would absolutely love them. Giving a subtle nod to the pastel trend, the sweaters are easy to wear and a go with everything staple. Also, with novelty knits a key trend for fall, they are a great transition piece that will see you through to next season."
Rogers is spot on about the loyal customer base as in the last couple of seasons, I've seen Jonathan Saunders pop up a lot more physically on the streets. Easy to grab components such as Saunders' knitwear and his jersey line have been important to this consumer spike. A/W 11 was the season where Saunders was properly able to explore knitwear having found the right manufacturer. Then it was just a case of developing distinctive textures such as S/S 12's oval knit, and last season's A/W 11-2 herringbone knit and incorporating them into the narrative of his collections. I spoke to the man himself about how he has segued into knitwear as a designer who is primarily focused in print.
"All of these textures are an extension of the print process. I love making things anyway. Knit adds another texture to the collection. It allows me to play with combinations of a colour in a way that doesn't necessarily work with a print design. There is always an element of surprise when designing knitwear, the graphic design that creates the texture always then transforms into something new once knitted. I think sometimes it's interesting when you are not trained within a field. I think we approach the technique in a different way and that's perhaps why the simplicity of our knits have worked."
The oval knit comes in colour ways of sherbet orange, mint green, white flecked with peach and green and a royal and navy blue flecked with grey and it is precisely these colour compositions of two or three yarns in the pattern that aligns with the way Saunders composes his prints. Rather than being the sideline act in his collections, his knitwear can play a starring role. "Knitwear will always be an integral part of the collections, both mens and womenswear, because it captures the sense of easiness that I believe the direction of our brand should go in. The notion of throwing something on and the importance of separates and daywear is core to what we do."
Saunders has hit the nail on the head with that last sentence and we can pin point his commercial success to that. His recent collections have built a solid range of pieces that are both directional and approachable at the same time, with this humble oval knit jumper being the gold star example. When asked how Saunders feels about seeing people physically wearing his clothing, he says "I think it's the greatest accolade for a designer to see people wearing their clothes, and it’s a testament to how hard our team have worked. It's obviously a challenge for an independent brand to expand our ranges in order to take us to the next level. To translate ideas into something that is accessible to a consumer without compromising creativity. We don't get it right all the time, but we try! I think it’s also very refreshing that a lot of my peers at the moment in London are doing a great job of proving that British design can be innovative and commercial at the same time!"
(Worn with 10 Crosby Derek Lam trousers)
(Worn with Current/Elliott jeans)