Turning the inward outwards through an exploration of what others might overlook, is a most relevant proposition within sartorial standards. There is an element of delicacy involved when tracing the source of a fabric, right to its fiber structure. This requires solemn commitment, patience and sensible curiosity. Tucked away on the fringes of the Marais, in a narrow elegant courtyard, I recently had a most sensory encounter with DANIEL ANDRESEN. A craftsman that truly embraces the relevance of research and meticulous handwork. His work might appear understated at first, but when examining it closer, one finds astute detailing, novel textures and the most delicate knitting techniques. I caught up with Daniel to explore his universe a little further.
Path. Daniel, lets begin by speaking of your homeland. Where did you grow up and what guided you?
Initially, I grew up at the seaside on an island in the North Sea. My parents had a restaurant there. For the 16 years I lived there and even now when I visit my parents, everything I do there seems to be very close to the shore. I like the look and feel of sand, stones, shells and water, the natural drawings and textures they create together and their rugged colors. The Wadden Sea has this very specific color, ranging from very green seaweed to black mud under the surface. It was and still is a very fascinating landscape which always makes me stop and think.
This was and is a big part of my being and making. I am and always have been very attracted by natural materials. By the time, I decided to work with garments, it took some time and trials until I discovered handcrafted knitwear. I started at a young age to customize my sisters old clothes and some items I got at the army surplus. My mother helped me with stitching and I sold it to friends afterwards. Later, I took sewing classes in school and decided to become a tailor on Savile Row in London, which led me, after two weeks of trial, to Antwerp where I studied, worked and discovered hand knitting machines, which in turn shaped the foundation of the atelier we developed and the collections we have been showing in Paris since 2010.
Development. From your initial steps as a creative, what lesson will you always remember?
To only listen to myself, and even then, in a most careful and patient manner.
Research. Your garments have such a rich history, from the fibers, to their weft and final finishing. Could you elaborate on this and your approach towards craftsmanship?
Fibers and yarns react very different once they are “manufactured”. I love mixing different fibers, such as merino wool and linen and then give these a certain wash. The result is not a wooly, nor overly breezy, but wonderfully draped sweater. You can get the best of each fiber in one piece. It takes some experiment and patience, but once you have this, it is there! The craftsman is me in this case, as I am the main knitter in the atelier and all stitches and mélanges are developed by myself. So it is me testing, testing, washing, testing and then I make the first prototypes. It is almost impossible to describe my process, as it is a new experience every time….
Nature. The crafting of the feeling behind the garments is most important. Nowadays, what pulls you to the North, its rugged shores?
Well, it is like I said in the beginning, these shores that shape my home. My idea of textures and form comes from those experiences I had and still have while I am there. The connection with natural surfaces is very strong for me. As a foundation, I will look at references such as drift wood, shells, fishbone and shorelines. In the end, this will translate into garments. For me already this process to simply develop a new texture or the hand-feel of a mélange knit, can be very inspiring.
Present. How do you shape dialogues with your clients, collaborators and your team?
The dialogue with clients is very different from person to person. It really depends on the client and notably if they are more into the technical aspect or the creative aspect and the story of things, like where the yarns come from for example. For our collections, we only use 100% natural fibers. It is important to me that we try to source these directly from their respective country of origin, as close as possible to the people who spin the yarns. This dialogue shapes the collections carefully, with all details taken into account. When it comes to collaborators for me, conversation is key, on an aesthetic and technical level. Same fact with the team, earnest interaction is pivotal.
The imagery is actually subtly described through the interview. It is where I come from and my knowledge in my discipline floating together. As a creator, I do not change topics or inspiration a lot, I rather add some pictures once in a while, or simply strip some away. As an example, if a tree branch has a unique texture, I try with several knitting techniques to achieve something that goes in that direction. Usually, we start with the colors of the collection. I do work a lot in grey tones, so it is not very hard to fit everything together. I think we just develop an array of references and cuts and afterwards calmly decide what does not fit, before we actually present it. Again, this is a very controlled yet organic process.
I do feel that there is enough space for everyone. My advise would be to find a craft and explore it, until you become a virtuoso and come to master that discipline over the years. Then try to make the best out of it in your own way. Be patient. In the end, you connect profoundly, only when done through yourself, I guess.
For more on Daniel: danielandresen.com