Inspiration, versatility and self-expression:
AMALIE ROEGE HOVE
Editor. Denise Germano
Photography. Bailey Wilday
We enter Amalie’s studio through a hidden courtyard in the centre of Copenhagen. From the initial inspiration to the ultimate creation, her studio represents the home to a spiral of ideas turning into tactile creations. Texture on texture, threads of colours entailed through machine's engines, one Polaroid after the other, the designer’s studio captures the modest yet astounding personality of the ones who made it their second home. A pool of creativity captured around a world ready to be discovered. Curious of how knit could be interpreted, Amalie uses a craft that has historically carried the synonym of comfort and warmth, as a mean of higher communication. Disrupting the common belief of knitwear, Amalie plays with textiles and elevates them to a higher character, fitting various body shapes, colours and sizes. Making knitwear the architectural protagonist of the designer’s tale.
It’s a pleasure to be here Amalie, thanks for your time. I would like to start off by asking you to tell us more about yourself and your design. What started it all?
I started in summer 2019. I quit my job and I knew I somehow wanted to work for myself. The first thing I made were bags. I wanted to test some thoughts I had. When you are in a job, working for someone else you are constantly thinking about their DNA, their needs and what would “fit in” but, sometimes you gather these ideas that you really want to see come to life but it never really happens. So, for me it was about getting some time on my own. At that time I was very much on my own in my living room knitting with a little machine, testing ideas. The bags had such a good response both on the street but also on social media that it all happened quite organically. I know a lot of people are knitting today, they can see it is such a versatile craft but for me, it was about showing knit in a different way. I wanted to build a brand that only focused on that. The brands where I previously worked used knit as such a small part of a big collection made of woven, for me it was obvious that instead it could be the start itself. When I look back, I realize how I started with one thing and got inspired to do the next thing. I also remember the evolution of seeing the pieces in the hands of other people like PR agencies and stylists, that was a form of inspiration to try new things. This keeps on developing so when I look back, I realize it really is a dream come true. I knew I wanted a brand of my own, but I guess that the success of it enables me to do more. When you don’t get positive reactions, you have to fight harder while I feel very lucky to be appreciated by the public.
A child with a crazy imagination.
You completed your studies at the Royal Danish Academy of fine Arts, was it then you created your first piece of clothing or did you start earlier? Do you still remember your very first creation?
Well, I started very early on because my mum is educated as a textile designer so she always made our clothes since we were born which means I had her influence from very early on. I started testing different things on her sewing machine. The interest for textiles however, came later, I always struggled to find the right fabric for the shape I wanted to do and I remember my mum telling me “ you know it is an option to do the textiles yourself, right?” but I felt like this was just a family hobby for me, in fact I was in doubt on whether to apply for business school or design school. This brought me to move to London and apply to Central Saint Martin so I could take some courses and learn more about textiles. But ever since the beginning, textile was what it changed it all for me, I worked so much with tridimensional shapes, put things in the oven to change their shapes and realized that was what I wanted to do full time, all the time. When I came to this realization, I used the same yarn and I made a scarf in complete transparent plastic. It was kind of horrible to wear but at that point I was so proud I made something myself! It is so ironic that today I work with the same material in such a different way, but I was so drawn to craft already then, I knew I didn’t want to work with traditional wool, I wanted materials that were different. Today I do all of my creations in nylon and cotton.
Get inspired, get experienced but then be ready to jump.
You worked alongside Cecilie Bahsen and Mark Domino Tan, how much of your experience with these designers has influenced your current style?
When you work for very successful brands and then you stop, I believe you struggle to understand what your own style and esthetic are, since you’ve been working so much for someone else’s vision. I also believe that when you’re in someone else’s business you get very much drawn to their world and it is only with detachment that I personally realized I finally wanted something else. When I did the first bags, I still had a very romantic vision, it was hard to leave behind what I learned from Cecilie and find my own voice, so it took me some alone time to realize that for me it is more about how the textile and the body work together, so it isn’t much of the textile on its own but more about when the two meet. I definitely learned a lot about business (by working alongside other designers), especially the challenges that you encounter. I still think about my time at Cecilie and Mark Domino Tan and how they approached challenges. Of course, I needed to understand for my own brand what was best. Working in both places was amazing, it was really a give and take and I always shared my best ideas. If you want to start your own brand, you should definitely work alongside someone who has done it before.
Challenging the common perception of knitwear. Taking school assignments to the next level.
In your last collection presented at CPHFW SS22, the deconstruction, cuts and see-through of the pieces are very visible, which is also what distinguishes your brand. Why choose knit if the purpose is not to cover the body after all?
I really like this question! This really summarizes why I want to change the perception of knitwear because for me it is not a given that knitwear is meant to cover,or be soft and I get that the knitwear you see in stores is just like that. Whilst for me it is not about making the garment “sexy”, the knit will always pull together, it changes its shape depending on the body that it is wearing it. The technique and the ways we do knitwear, really opened my vision on ways you can use knit and I like challenging the way people see knitwear, because there is not only one look and feel that knitwear can have. I would never get the same in a woven quality. The ability to stretch, yet be super fine, makes it the perfect combination of craft and material to get to my aimed silhouettes. But yeah, I find it funny how everyone has this vision of knitwear. Even my mum and grandmother still tell me: we have never seen knit like this! But that is exactly what I mean, in school we are taught to challenge ourselves constantly, this is just like taking school to the next level.
Reserved with a world to narrate, mum thought I was bored.
There must be a lot of your personality in your creations. How much of your true self is projected in your designs?
Very good question, again! My work is a projection of my inner self. I am not very much out there, I am very confident in my skills, but I am quite reserved, and my collection shows exactly that. All my ambitions for textile are in this collection. It is about my interest in textile itself and I never make the clothes to make someone look “hot” or something specific. I believe I have a good imagination, but I am not a very outgoing person, being reserved this is the way I communicate my inner world. I remember as a kid my mum used to tell me “you must be so bored” because I used to invent stories and had the greatest imagination.
Heritage, quality and never too far from home.
Craftsmanship and a great sense of quality are key points of your brand. Denmark, Italy and Ireland seem to be the countries you focus on the most to achieve these results, do you also find inspiration in the culture of these countries or would you consider your Danish surroundings your baseline for your creations?
The choice was natural as I wanted to find places where they have a long heritage of producing good quality material. In Denmark, we have a heritage in design and architecture and that is how I see knitwear, in terms of the shape you put underneath and how it changes the material itself. I also really value the working pace we have here.
Ireland has a special place in my heart as my dad lives there, but I found people being so hard working. Italy of course is known for producing great quality craft. It’s been so important to find places where these family-owned places keep this craft alive, compared to other countries where the heritage for home production is not that strong and not preserved anymore.
Transitions and testing.
Do you recall any moment of challenge that finally brought to a spectacular ending? A moment that drove you to push your boundaries and create something scarily beautiful?
Some of my best creations were made when there were no expectations from anyone. I was just ready to do something different and for myself. I still remember the feeling of transitioning from producing bags to clothing, feeling like the material could create something interesting on the body and putting the first pieces on Instagram. I think people saw it as a side project while I knew for me it was a continuation of the whole knit project.
Little to no waste, a practice to live by.
It’s great to see so many steps taken towards more sustainable practices, especially during Copenhagen Fashion Week, it is very visible that Scandinavian designers make it the main pillar of their operations. How do you avoid waste of materials from one collection to the other? Are you always able to reuse bits and pieces to give life to something new?
We only produce what the stores are selling. In the production phase we try to engineer all knitted pieces to avoid any waste. We have a few styles where there is some waste because the best way to knit it is in one full garment without letting the yarn break, that creates a different kind of waste, but we reuse those for patchwork pieces for instance. We are always thinking about how to produce little waste or no waste at all. Educating clients is a big part of it: for us it makes sense for wholesale clients not to place big orders, we try to control that and if they sold out the collection, we invite them to see other styles that we might have in stock that keep being relevant through time, or ask the production companies what they have available so, we always propose what we have in stock first.
The production part is where I believe we can make a change and inspire others to do the same. In the studio we use and reuse pieces to test techniques and colors in order to get new ideas but also to avoid buying new ones.
Evolving and the value of “no”.
Talking about the future now. It’s not in human nature to go back or stand still, we tend to move forward and want to evolve. What is next for you and your designs?
I want to continue what we are doing now. We are already evolving, getting different retailers and acquiring different markets so the most important thing right now is to keep up with this evolution. I learned that there is a great value in saying no, not accepting everything for fear of missing out. I believe it is important to listen to your gut feeling and not feeling tied down to a one-time decision and feel obliged to repeat it. I enjoy a fast pace environment and recognizing what is important for the business, but it is also understanding as we go and, not forcing any actions also because there is a hard-working team behind it all. In fact, I guess the most important thing for us now is making everyone in the team appreciated and getting all a good salary!
Textile becomes an experience. The main character of the designer’s tale.
Lastly, if you could do anything today, anything at all, what would it be?
I would love to get a chance to do an installation, before the brand grows too much. I would enjoy doing something that takes the body out of the picture. As textile is for me the protagonist, I would love to remove the body from the picture and allow the viewer to read a different story. There is something about textile you should simply experience and that is something I would love to create.
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