When two knitwear designers have a night out in a Mexican-themed bar/restaurant called Crazy Homies, the OBVIOUS thing to do is of course create a collection called Crazy Homies, dedicated to dead rappers segueing into Day of the Dead. Well, actually maybe that isn't so obvious but nonetheless we should be congratulating Anna Wilkinson and Lindsay McKean for coming up with something this awesome out of the haze of a margarita hangover. Anna and Lindsay met whilst working for a textiles company but then discovered they had both graduated in knitwear from Winchester, albeit seven years apart. Lindsay has also been freelancing for a few menswear designers like Omar Kashoura and William Richard Green and Anna with her handknit speciality has just published a book "Lean to Knit, Love to Knit".
Their Crazy Homies night out spurred them into starting their spontaneous label Cats Brothers, a curious name obtained from an even more curious piece of random art. Initially they wanted to create a Snoop Dogg jumper complete with fake cornrows but then stumbled onto the idea of paying homage to dead rappers through the upbeat aesthetics of all things Day of the Dead. With their theme worked out, the collection came together quite quickly and was presented in a jewellery store in Shoreditch in November.
The stand out, attention-grabbing and defintiely Tumblr/internet gen-friendly piece of the collection is undoubtedly the Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes baggy jumper, depicting the TLC member in her younger toothy smile days, complete with a fake bit of hair and eye-patch tcovering up her left eye. It's a stroke of knit wit genius and definitely one that I could see sparking a demand for a whole music artist knitted series if Lindsay and Anna aren't careful. Their dead rapper homages in the collections play out on pre-printed t-shirts that are then embroidered over, giving new life to those heavily-reproduced iconic images of Tupac, Biggie and MCA from the Beastie Boys. The rest of the collection fleshed out the Day of the Dead theme with skull crochet, sarape stripes and paisley beading running riot over bomber jackets, hoodies, cropped tees and customised vintage denim pieces. It's a joyful collection that wasn't born out of strategy or meticulous planning but instead is an edearing expression of fun-filled craft that could see Cats Brothers as a label developing in several ways.
For now there is no seasonal rhythm to the way Anna and Lindsay work and that's how they want to keep it for now as they begin their Cats Brothers journey, testing the waters and gauging interest from buyers and collaborators. They've made pretty good progress already with Browns picking them up to launch the collection in time for London Fashion Week. Maybe there's a way of capitalising on the embroidered rapper tees, which is why they're launching their own online shop soon.
What started as an idea from a night out at a themed bar has quickly gathered pace into a real tangible business but I suspect Anna and Lindsay are first and foremost focused on really enjoying their knitted endeavours and taking pleasure from their collaborative pieces, taking the business side of things as it comes.