Summer knitwear

Pastels add a pop of soft colour to your summer style. Soft hue and texture is celebrated in Anna...
Pastels add a pop of soft colour to your summer style. Soft hue and texture is celebrated in Anna Quan's Mikayia knit midi dress.

This season, knitwear is transcending its comfortable home of autumn/winter fashion, into the warm open air of summer.  Katie Day takes a look at the trend of warmer weather knits that has swept the globe. 

In recent times, our homes have become our castles. With abundant time spent indoors, the development of skills such as baking and crafting have been warmly embraced.

A unique summer fashion trend sweeping the globe that weaves these sharpened craft skills and our loyalty to comfortable leisure wear is knitwear, with a special mention given to our own hand knitting.

Knitwear for the summertime offers a noteworthy trans-seasonal approach, where we can relax into the season’s ease with softness and comfort, all while exuding an elegance that comes hand in hand with knits. The layering that knitwear offers also brings solace to the wearer traversing an unpredictable spring and summer in Otago.

A printed maxi dress is styled with a soft pastel oversized cardi and accessorised with flashes...
A printed maxi dress is styled with a soft pastel oversized cardi and accessorised with flashes of vibrant pink for Copenhagen Spring/Summer fashion week. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Let’s take a step back in time for a moment, approximately 100 years or so, to see how knitwear found its home in our current wardrobes. The 1920s was a transformative time not too dissimilar from our own. Western society was emerging and recovering post World War 1 and society’s need for ease and functionality were met by the innovative thinking of design movements such as Modernism, Art Deco and Bauhaus, providing minimal, streamlined and refined ideals. Style, as a reflection of this, transfigured, offering looser, relaxed and refined looks, giving wearers the comfort and capability they desired during this time.

Athletic-wear captured these elements with precision. French fashion designers Jean Patou and Coco Chanel pioneered style’s evolution in the ’20s, initially by introducing jersey fabrics to the mainstream.

Yet they truly harnessed the zeitgeist, as they brought sportswear into prominence, exploring the bounds of dress by integrating this athletic wear into day wear.

The Sessun Oumazza cropped knit cardi captures the essence of a ’70s inspired summer with sunset...
The Sessun Oumazza cropped knit cardi captures the essence of a ’70s inspired summer with sunset tones and a subtle jacquard knitting detail.
The designers relished in sportswear’s ability to modernise and optimise fashion, offering tennis looks of short pleated skirts with knitted pullover vests, jumpers and cardigans.

This drew knitwear forward into the spotlight, normalising the everyday public wear of knits. The patterns, yarns and demand of knitwear has waxed and waned since, although its presence in western fashion collections has remained constant.

The Anna Quan Scarlet Dress in Zest, featuring 100% cotton knit ribbing and a flared hemline...
The Anna Quan Scarlet Dress in Zest, featuring 100% cotton knit ribbing and a flared hemline create and easy breezy summer midi dress. PHOTOS: CHAPMAN STORE
Currently, we are seeing spring and summer silhouettes fashioned into knitwear. Separates such as polo shirts, midi skirts, off the shoulder tops, vests and wide leg trousers are inhabiting the wardrobes of many.

Accompanying these two-piece outfits, are dresses of every style, polo, wrap, singlet, maxi and more. All epitomising the ease and elegance of summer, yet offering the excitement of an eclectic tactile component, juxtaposing the weighted textures of winter with softer silhouettes of summer.

The haven of home is draping across international runways, with knitwear and craft saturating Spring/Summer 21 collections.

Crisp cottons are juxtaposed with a plush knit jumper in this monochromatic fashion week street...
Crisp cottons are juxtaposed with a plush knit jumper in this monochromatic fashion week street style look. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Gabriela Hearst thoughtfully collaborated with hand knitters to incorporate vibrant and artful knit features into her spring/summer collection. Bottega Veneta has embraced the tactility of home comforts in its SS 21 collection, fashioning looks that explore craft techniques such as crochet and thick large-gauge yarn knitting.

These textiles have been constructed into ’60s inspired mini shift dresses, oversized polo shirts and knitted clutches, all in the palette of vibrant saturated primary colours, balanced by soft pastels, neutrals and yellows.

The ambience of a cosy craft day is interwoven with a carefree beach atmosphere as the technique of craft and silhouette are combined.

Crochet is featured generously throughout spring/summer 21 collections, in the form of figure-hugging garments such as halter necks, crop tops and body suits. The sublime, generated by craft paired with minimalism, has been embraced by designers across the board such as Dior, Loewe, Stella McCartney and Gucci to name a few.

The summer sleeveless tank is reimagined in a rib knit and paired with a relaxed pastel short for...
The summer sleeveless tank is reimagined in a rib knit and paired with a relaxed pastel short for New York fashion week. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
The craft of knitting and crochet can offer a hands on, peaceful activity to help us navigate our time in varying levels of isolation, while also providing us with some meaningful hand crafted garments, to style into our current wardrobes. The memories of this moment in time can be woven into the garment, creating a keepsake for years to come.

The texture and tactility of knits draw our attention to our senses and highlight the felt experience of our garments as we put together our outfits. When styling summer knitwear, we can consider how these elements of texture and sensory experience play into our looks.

Layers such as a knit vest or cropped cardigan over a breezy tee offer a weighted sense of comfort and the practical versatility to negotiate weather oscillations.

Knit bottoms such as shorts, midi skirts or wide-leg pants are plush to wear, giving the feeling that you’ve never left the house. The softness of these bottoms can be contrasted with a crisp white cotton button-up tee shirt or pleated blouse, if structure is desired to balance the look.

Monochromatic, textural layers offer a fresh, tactile and practical style approach to the warmer...
Monochromatic, textural layers offer a fresh, tactile and practical style approach to the warmer seasons. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Colour can provide an expression of exuberance, and vibrant, saturated colours can be readily found in knit polo tees. These bold tees can be matched with a high-waisted wide leg denim jean, for a ’70s inspired ensemble.

Knitwear in the summertime blends together the tactile solace of cosy garments and the carefree spirit of summer, to form an eclectic amalgamation that is playful, layered and familiar.

Knits can be found throughout op-shops, retailers, among the wardrobes or craft boxes of friends and family members, or within our learned skillset.

Embrace the comfort and craft of hand knit with the Sessun Tesoro cardi in Fleur De Sel. Craft...
Embrace the comfort and craft of hand knit with the Sessun Tesoro cardi in Fleur De Sel. Craft shines in the embroidered cable knit details of this cropped summer cardigan.
This knitwear wave offers a joyful mix and match of craft, colour, comfort and texture that is totally unique to the authentic expression of the knitwearer.

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