Recently dubbed Air New Zealand Fashion Week’s ‘greatest revelation,’ Areez Katki is the gorgeous young Aucklander endearing the city with his cosy off beat one-off knitted pieces.
You’ve made fans out of many of Auckland’s fashion followers; did you expect your designs to take off so well?
Thank you! I actually didn’t expect much to come of it since I’m still at University. And I didn’t think I had much time to start a label, let alone produce all its pieces. Somehow, what seemed like a little project or hobby worked out amazingly well. Miss Crabb, who was first to have my pieces, and then Children Of Vision, have both been incredibly supportive of my work, which is wonderful for someone like me who is just getting his feet wet in such an intimidating industry.
With every piece being lovingly created by hand, would you consider your pieces to be more fashion or craft?
I would say it’s a bit of both, as fashion can involve craft when referring to the methods by which a piece is created. What I do relate it to is an art making process, as they are all one-off pieces which involve different combinations of shapes, colours, textures and details.
The time it takes to create each piece differs, so it can range anywhere from five hours to a week for pieces like tunics and dresses. It depends on what I would like to do with them in the end, which involves my favourite part of the process – drapery! I like to keep the process as spontaneous and experimental as I can, while keeping in mind factors like cohesiveness of a collection, time and budget. Lately I’ve been working with feting and dyeing yarns, as well as bleaching strips of organic modal, which I plan to include in vertically draped panels. These are all things that I have not worked with before, but plan to explore for my next collection.
Do you design your garments before you start them or do you just pick up your needles and go for it?
I think of what I need or want to make and then start by casting on. Everything after that is more or less just a spontaneous reaction to whatever I am surrounded by, listening to, or thinking about.
What inspires you?
Knowledge; I value it more than anything else. The types that pique my interest include skills used in primitive art, philosophical literature and art history in general. I love exploring the historical world, and how my work and life can be influenced by it.
Your colour palette seems to be quite earthy, speckled with bright, clashy tones. Is this harking back to the tripped out organic-ness of the ‘60s and ‘70s?
Ha-ha, it could! I do love using the elements as a colour influence, but then again what I often try to convey are allegorical themes through the insertion of symbols on some of the pieces. The bright clashy tones are just a personal favourite of mine, as I do see them as a refreshing alternative to being monochromatic. This is where you may see how personal the work is, as even my moods have an effect on what I use in the pieces.
A lot of knitters are unashamedly adoring of their mums and grannies who taught them to knit. How did you learn your craft? Is there a family connection?
Yes, there certainly is. My grandmother and mother taught me how to knit and I’ve been doing so, on and off, since I was around seven or eight.
Have you come across guerrilla knitting at all? (Like street art but made of gorgeous little knitted trinkets dropped around the city for all to enjoy).
I have indeed, and I think it’s wonderful! Although I’m not sure if it is always hand-knitted. But even so, it seems like a wonderful way to convey such a delightfully personal aesthetic experience.
What are you plans for the future? Do you intend to stay in fashion and keep knitting?
What I see in the future is firstly finishing my degree, after which I may pursue writing. It would be wonderful to have the knitwear flourish and spread, but it seems daunting to plan something so personal and spontaneous so far ahead.
If you could see anyone in the world rocking down the street in one of your garments, who would you want it to be?
Text: Alexandra Dunn
Styling: Areez Katki
Photography: Aaron K
Make-up & Hair: Natalie Shields
Models: Elena Zubielevitch at Red 11 and Stacey Monaghan at August