Forget activewear — Ingrid Pettersson is here to introduce ”activating wear”
Can bouncy clothes create more presence and attention for the person wearing them? the emerging Norwegian designer asks.
27 Nov 2023

Pettersson recently graduated from Oslo National Academy of the Arts (KHiO) with a master’s degree in clothing design. In her design work, she’s always been intrigued by how textiles come alive through their movement, surface textures, and feel. 

— During my youth, I was very into drawing. As I transitioned into working with textiles, I realised that creating garments could be a new form of drawing. Through fabrics, I could sketch lines, create shapes, and play with references, moods, and colours, she explains.

For the past two years, her focus has been on knitwear. 

— I find it very exciting to be able to make my own materials. That allows me to deep dive into the materials’ architecture, surface, and movement. My long-standing aspiration has been to create clothes that initiate a ’dialogue’ between the garment and its wearer. Clothes can be perceived as the immediate environment of the body — an entity that interacts with the body or even serves as an extension of it. It’s within these contexts and landscapes that I currently work and aspire to continue in the future.

At this season’s Oslo Runway, she was announced as the winner of DS Talent Award for her graduation collection, Encounters with Bounce

— In the collection, I delved into the realm of knitting while integrating movement as a central theme. I wanted to think of clothes as something active together with us; clothes that respond to our movements and can remind us of what we are doing via its rhythm, weight, and bounce. One of the key research questions I pursued was; Can bouncy clothes create more presence and attention for the person wearing them? I liked the idea of clothes that insist on their existence in their movements and responses to our bodies. I worked with various techniques to create a bounce in the material, ultimately choosing rib knit for the entire collection. This has resulted in a series of springy knitted skirts and tops, Pettersson explains. She continues:

— The garments consist of rectangles in rib, knitted on Dubied hand-knitting machines. Each knitted rectangle is linked together to find the right pull, weight, bounce, and direction in the garment. I played around with stripes and various colour combinations, leading to an optimistic and fun palette. The silhouettes are intentionally simple to allow the focus to remain on the bounce and knit. Though I utilised a single technique, I experimented with altering the appearance of the rib by stretching it and creating wave-like shapes and volumes. As I was developing each piece, I tested the clothes myself and invited others to run, dance, walk, and in their personal ways interact with them. This became very important for the process and development of each piece in the collection.

— I aimed to create sartorial proposals that can evoke a desire to move, playfulness, curiosity, and a sense of presence. I see my clothes as ’activating wear’, not activewear. This collection is the first visual chapter of Encounters with Bounce. I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of what I can do with visual and material explorations to make clothes that respond to the body in different ways.

”I strive to design clothes that accommodate the body’s changes over time”

How do you work with sustainability?

— Working with knitwear has enabled me to minimise waste. When I create knitted toiles, I can unravel the yarn and reuse it again. Additionally, I strive to design clothes that accommodate the body’s changes over time. This adaptability is achieved through the inherent stretch and resilience of knitted rib, as well as my construction techniques for the garments.

You’ve also been selected to show the mentioned graduation collection at the Nordic fashion talent support platform ALPHA during Copenhagen Fashion Week in January. What else is in the making for you?

— I want to continue developing my Encounters with Bounce project and expand my understanding of knitting and its mysteries. Currently, I work part-time as a teacher at KHiO and juggle two additional side jobs to make ends meet. I’m in search of a studio as I currently work in the living room of my apartment, which is less than ideal for the long run. My goal is to showcase a new collection next summer and keep creating bouncy moments. 

Ingrid Pettersson. Photography: Ignat Wiig