|Tucked away in the dreamlike Valdres Region of Norway, designers Arne Nerjordet and Carlos Zachrison infuse their luxury knitwear with age-old Scandinavian craft techniques and traditions. Creating both a men’s and women’s, as well as an accessories line, ARNE & CARLOS launched their first collection in 2008, and just a few months later were collaborating with luminary designer Rei Kawakubo on a special range for Comme des Garcons. From their studio atop a Scandinavian mountain, Arne and Carlos talked to farfetch.com about historical art and craft practices, and creating a new form of Scandinavian knitwear. |
We love that ARNE & CARLOS is all about nurturing traditional knitting and craft techniques, while also incorporating your own style. When and where did you launch your label, and how did you meet each other?
Arne Nerjordet and Carlos Zachrison: We launched our knitwear label in 2007. We had just edited and written a book about Norwegian knitwear for the Norwegian Arts and Crafts Association and it really inspired us to focus on knitwear. Scandinavia has a lot of knitwear traditions that are passed on from generation to generation. Knitting is something we know how to do really well - so we decided to focus on doing something that comes naturally and started making women's knitwear, men's knitwear and knitted accessories. We showed our first knitwear collection in January 2008 in Paris.
What is the design process like for you – how do you come up with ideas for your knitwear?
Nerjordet and Zachrison: We do a lot of research. Normally our starting point is Scandinavian knitwear; we research different traditional patterns and seek out different techniques. Then we experiment with different patterns; we re-design and modernise them. This process eventually leads to the creation of completely new Scandinavian knitwear based on an eclectic combination of several traditional patterns. From there, we work on incorporating the patterns into our garments.
Why did you choose to live and work in the Valdres Region of Norway? It is meant to be very beautiful, with a long history of folk arts and crafts…
Nerjordet and Zachrison: Yes, we live and work on top of a mountain in the region of Valdres – and hardly have any neighbours. We can live in a remote area like this because of modern technology. We are far from any big city, but we are not isolated, thanks to internet, fax, telephone, Skype etc... These beautiful surroundings inspire us and enable us to work. We also travel extensively, but when we return to our environment we are always inspired to start work. This area of Norway is very traditional, especially when it comes to the arts – there is a strong history of knitting, weaving and felting. So it is very useful when we are researching old techniques, because there are always people around with this knowledge that are willing to teach us.
Where did you both grow up, and were you always passionate about knitwear and fashion?
Nerjordet and Zachrison: Arne grew up in a small farm in the valley next to Valdres (the Valley we now live in), and I (Carlos) grew up in Brazil and Venezuela - although my mother is Spanish and my father is Swedish. I moved permanently to Sweden when I was 13, and now live in Norway. I don't think I ever dreamt of a
| career in Fashion (I Studied Political Science in Sweden). Arne has been knitting since he was a kid and he does have a formal education from the Design Academy, and has taught design for a few years before starting our brand. Neither of us really considered a career in fashion until we launched our brand. |
What kind of person do you create your knitwear for?
Nerjordet and Zachrison: We don't have a specific man or woman in mind when we create our knitwear, we just go with our instincts and do what we feel is right. We have realised, though, that our knitwear must appeal to a certain kind of individual, considering that our brand sells to specific stores world-wide that carry certain brands that are always sold together.
It must be exciting to see people all around the world rocking your knitwear…
Nerjordet and Zachrison: I got so excited the first time I saw a total stranger walking down a street in Copenhagen wearing one of our knitted hats! It was so nice to know that someone had bought one of our products because they really loved it.
Why have you focused primarily on knitwear, and how would you describe your aesthetic?
Nerjordet and Zachrison: It is definitely a Scandinavian aesthetic – our garments are functional and simple. The reason we focus on knitwear is that Scandinavia has so many knitwear traditions passed on from generation to generation. Knitting is something we really know how to do well.
Do you have a philosophy that drives your designs or any designers or fashion icons that have influenced you?
Nerjordet and Zachrison: We just want to create beautiful, high quality products. We don’t like the fashion industry's idea of throwing out a collection after one season – we'd rather see our pieces become heirlooms that are passed on. I don't think we have any fashion icons that influence us – we are generally inspired by people we meet.
What has been the best moment in your career so far?
Nerjordet and Zachrison: The highlight so far was definitely the collaboration we did with Comme des Garçons last year, for Christmas 2008. It was an amazing experience to work with Rei Kawakubo and her team. Otherwise, the best thing about running our own business is to see how things develop and grow over time. We created this company from scratch, and it's really like a little baby that we nurture and take care of – we feel like proud parents!