“The future is bright,” says Ana Andrade, 2nd year BA Knitwear student at Central Saint Martins. Despite the uncertainty of the world Ana is pleasantly optimistic about what is ahead for her.
Studying on the BA Knitwear course provides challenges for most, if not all, students. Ana admits that she struggles more with shapes and cutting fabric. “The most difficult thing about studying knitwear is probably the fact that we are separated between textiles and the other fashion courses. It’s just really hard to think about shapes and silhouettes and color trends, and on top of that create your own textures and textiles for it,” she says. Despite the setback, she still tries to experiment. Her designs incorporate a mixture of hand crocheting and hand techniques, as well as felting. “It’s hard to define my style,” Ana says calmly. She enjoys working more with her hands than using machinery in the construction of her clothes. “I do know how to do machine knitting or sewing,” she clarifies, “but these things lack a personal touch.”
Having a hands-on element is key in Ana’s designs. This was no different for the photoshoot collaboration she did with Simonas Berukstis, who described working with Ana as “complete freedom.” It was important that the photoshoot remained simple and clean not to distract from the clothes.
The collection was shot in Simonas bedroom. The only thing they used were white sheets. “It was very easy, simple and cheap,” Simonas said. There was no use of complex lighting or a busy background. The actual photoshoot was an easy collaboration between Ana and Simonas, since they both understood and trusted each other’s vision.
Visual identity and a sense of belonging are important in Ana’s designs. She further explores this through her use of textiles and relating her work to her life. “I have things that interest me, artists that I like, things that I’ve recently experienced or seen,” she says matter-of-factly.
Ana reflects her culture and experiences. Recently the influence of Brazil, her home country, has been a repeating source of inspiration for her. She incorporates the use of native tribal techniques such as hand weaving. Once again, this process relates back to the idea of using something other than a machine; Ana calls the process “ancestry practice.” In her designs, there is a sense of rawness and an unfinished quality that she appreciates.
Ana’s work is often inspired by other cultures, but cultural appropriation is a topic that she acknowledges. “Whether you’re appropriating from a culture or subculture that’s very close to you or looking all the way to some tribe in the middle of nowhere,” Ana says, “you’re taking referencing from somewhere else and I don’t think fashion can survive without it.”
While on the topic of survival and fashion, Ana mentions how working in the fashion industry as a young designer is incredibly difficult, and she would rather work for an established brand. Right now, her focus is solely on her designs. As for her future “hopefully I will have found a place where I belong,” Ana says happily.
Words Paige Bennett Images Simonas Berukstis