Nido: Handmade Knitwear from Argentina
Nido: Handmade Knitwear from Argentina
Artisanal classics with a dash of imperfection, made from the highest quality sheep, goat and llama wool
Knitwear, at the moment, has never been more interesting—in the last month alone, we've covered everything from psychedelic beach-inspired couture to soft iridescent blankets to a new dedicated biannual magazine. And in the world of hand-knitted wool apparel, Argentinian label Nido sticks out from the bunch with its contemporary-meets-classic aesthetic.
Julieta Racket, a Buenos Aires-native and graphic designer, started Nido (or "nest" in Spanish) in 2008 because she had the "need to do something more tangible and get in touch with the creative process of materialization," she shares with CH, adding, "And my love of nature and animals."
Her love of wool stems from childhood (and also the fact that Argentina is one of the world's major wool producers). WIth a mother from an inland village where many customs are still preserved, Racket grew up wearing clothing knitted by her aunts and grandmother in Chivilcoy. But the material's utility became much more apparent as she became older. "On one hand, Argentina is a country with a variety of temperatures throughout the year and, as I live in the city, I suffer in the summer heat and the most enjoyable season is winter," says Racket. "I like the cold and everything related to it: stay in a sheltered place drinking something hot while it's cold outside; the warmth, shelter and care that this situation suggests. The wool has these qualities, like a warm hug."
This process of turning nature into something useful, for everyday use, I find it almost magical, yet so simple and ancestral.
"Furthermore, wool is a natural material used by humans against the cold since the beginning of mankind. Protecting yourself from the cold with the fur of another animal is a basic act of survival. I really like that it remains that way, so simple and basic. Every year when the cold begins, I knit a scarf for myself and use it all winter. The texture and smell reminds me of the countryside. This process of turning nature into something useful, for everyday use, I find it almost magical, yet so simple and ancestral."
Thus, Nido is dedicated to using only the highest quality wool, and wool that's entirely handmade. "The fleece (sheared from sheep or goats) is spun by hand with treadle spinning wheels to obtain a continuous thread of wool. Once the wool is spun, the wool is hand-dyed. This whole process is made by artisans from the interior of the country, who have learned their trade and technique from generation to generation. Then, the wool is hand-knitted to create each garment," she explains. "In each item of Nido, the story of its creation is imprinted: the hands of the artisans, variations in dyes and even the smell of nature. So each one is unique, no two are alike." This is the allure that tightly machine-knitted pieces don't have.
Currently, Racket works with about 10 female spinners from the Sante Fe province and 15 knitters in Buenos Aires, the latter through the association De Origen, which trains artisans from vulnerable communities to further social and economic development.
"The protagonist of every collection is the material and color," says Racket. "The models are classic and timeless. So the design process begins with decisions of textures and dyes. I rely a lot on what's available, I talk to the artisans and let them propose. This year, for example, we added undyed goat and llama wool (using their natural color). The llama wool is super soft and goat (mohair) is more hairy."
"Since I don't come from the world of fashion, I take design in a broader sense, and admire different interpretations of this," says Racket, who is also part of a collective called Reunión, which has its own conceptually driven store. "And my greatest admiration is of the anonymous artisans—people who make things, those who produce, who put the hands to work."
Nido's AW14 collection sells from independent stockists, including Going My Home in Korea. Visit Nido's website for the full list. Any item in the collection can also be purchased by emailing them through their site, while some basics are made to order from Nido's online shop. Be sure to check out label's separate collection Telar, which has loom-woven blankets, scarves and rugs.
Studio and lookbook images courtesy of Nido, lookbook images photographed by Martin Pisotti