WMJ

Thursday 28th August

An interview with Eleanor O'Neill

Eleanor O'Neill

Knitwear designer, Eleanor O’Neill graduated from Nottingham Trent University last year and is currently based in Newcastle working on her new British knitwear brand, Study34.

What led you to specialise in knitting and knitwear?

I started as a textiles student but decided quite quickly that knitwear was what I wanted to do. I remember walking through the knit room in my first year at university and seeing all the machines producing amazing fabric and that was it, hooked! It’s an area of textiles that allows me to both develop fabric but also learn how to construct garments, not just one or the other.

Tell us a bit about your graduate collection - ideas, inspiration and the materials and techniques you used.

My initial research was around the stereotypical characteristics that are given to both men and women and trying to explore and combine them through imagery, color and fabric.

The collection was knitted on 14g and 12g dubied machines and standard gauge domestics. I tried to capture female qualities like fragility for example, by using silks (spun as well as well as raw silk tops), mohairs and fine gauge wools. By exploring different structures such as tight mock ribs, compact felted wool, heavy weaving and e-wrapping, I created robust, more masculine fabrics while still maintaining a sense of fragility and beauty.

I thought about putting the collection on the male models at the last minute but I didn't think that would go down well with the organisers!

Eleanor O'Neill

GFW

What was your favourite piece from your graduate collection?

It’s an e-wrapped dress, mainly dark blue, has raglan sleeves and a high ribbed neck trim. It’s my favourite because it was the last garment I made and so I really understood the nature of the fabric and how it was going to move with the body.

What are your favourite things to make?

Jumpers, definitely.

Eleanor O'Neill

GFW

What are you working on at the moment?

I am working on developing a new knitwear brand ‘study34’, producing garments designed and made in Britain. I want to develop a knitwear brand that offers original knitwear, only using natural yarns, well made and at an affordable price.

How is your work developing since you graduated?

I loved being encouraged to be different and make an impact with my work at university but now, when I think about what I really like to design, it's more commercial – though I’d like to think it is still original.

When I first started working with knitwear, I had ideas about finished garments before I’d even begun the design process, whereas now, understanding the natural qualities of fabrics and structures is paramount and the ideas develop from there…

What other work/professional experience have you had and how has this helped/influenced you?

After I graduated I went to work as a junior knitwear designer for the Italian brand Stefanel in Northern Italy.

Prior to that, in my third year at NTU, I did two placements. One for a company called Oxford collections in New York (part of Li&Fung group) who worked with designers like Karl Lagerfeld, Jason Wu and Doo Ri to produce clothing based on their runway collections. We worked with them to simplify down their catwalk styles and then these garments were sold in the high street stores Macys and Target.

The other was for the men’s knitwear team at Hugo Boss in Switzerland. This experience was less fast pace and I worked on a small team of 6, developing the new season’s styles for the BOSS BLACK label.

My experiences working in the industry have been varied but all very valuable. I’ve been able to experience both fast and slow paced environments, designing for both men and women, designing with CAD as well as by hand, working with both production and design teams and supplying for high end as well as high street stores. I’ve also been lucky enough to live in big engaging cites as well as quieter areas of Europe.

Who are your favourite designers?

If I could afford it I’d wear Celine and Stella McCartney. I really like the simplicity of Jil Sander too. But actually, I love COS and shopping at charity shops.

Who would you most like to collaborate with?

Maybe a brand like ZARA, they seem to cover all the fashion bases and who doesn’t love them for that! It would be amazing to do a little made in Britain collection with them.

What’s next for you?

Study34 is still in the early stages so I’m still working hard developing it but I’m really excited to move it on to the next stages and see what’s to come.

Study 34 Study 34

Study34

WMJ is very proud to be stocking Eleanor's graduate collection which is available here. You can also follow the progress of Study34 here.

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