Long Read / Fashion
Why Nadia Wire’s digitally knitted drops are the ultimate example of the future of fashion
Locally produced high-quality pieces, only made-to-order, at their own factory where digital knitting and other special technologies further remove waste, and using expert help to give waste knits a second life. The Danish designer ticks many boxes for a modern emerging brand of 2021.
1 Oct 2021

Educated in knitwear and textiles at Central Saint Martins and with a Diploma in Digital Knitting from Stoll, Nadia Wire worked for various fashion brands, including Peter Pilotto, Pringle of Scotland, and Iris Van Herpen, before starting her eponymous label.

— We knit bold colours and playful shapes that fit all seasons and wardrobes. By allowing the creative mind to form playful designs, without any prejudiced setting, we create unique and colorful knitted pieces. Every collection is created from a textile point of view, where we allow the development of the textiles to form the storyline. Our garments are conceived for all wardrobes and body shapes in mind, developed to be inclusive and embracing the body, she tells, continuing,

— We don’t believe in the fundamental value of creating SS or AW, nor pre or resort collections — hence we produce seasonless garments and launch our knitted ”drops” according to our own schedule. All our pieces are manufactured at our knitting factory in Denmark, where we operate on a small scale and a made-to-order vision. By doing that, we want to keep the brand from contributing to a growing problem, that the fashion industry is simply just ignoring: The world is overproducing.

What’s so special about knitting?

— Especially digital knitting enables you to really experiment with illusions, depth, and innovative techniques which you can’t with hand knitting. You can work with fine yarns that are as delicate as a piece of hair. And even though it is delicate — and might break easily on its own — then when it is knitted, the textile can become as strong as woven textile, if you just apply the right technique and tension. That transformation is amazing to me, Wire shares. She continues:

— Looking back, I think the creative influence has definitely come from my grandparents, where I have combined the best from two very different worlds, that they introduced me to: craftmanship and mechanics.

— My grandmother worked as a milliner and was very passionate about handknitting. She was the first person that introduced me to knitting, yarns, colors, and textures and she really encouraged my creative passion. We would spend hours together knitting, drawing, painting, and designing. Whereas my granddad was self-employed with a mechanical car shop, his passion was anything related to mechanical parts and building stuff. I was often with him in the workshop, where he introduced me to his world. Maybe that is why I love digital knitting and production so much because, in some ways, it’s very similar to his world.

Tell us more about digital knitting.

— We have three machines, from German company Stoll, that develops and produces all our textiles, all the way from very delicate textile as well as chunkier and heavier knits. Each machine weighs approximately 1 ton and consists of several small mechanical parts, that all need to work together for a textile to come out of the machine flawless — without any dropped stitches. In order for the knitting machine to work, we first program all our textiles or garments in an advanced tech knitting program called M1Plus, which is aligned with our digital knitting machines. Think of it as a very advanced drawing or Photoshop program, where you can assign tensions, type of stitches, machine speed, and shape by coding it directly to the knitting machine, Wire shares, continuing,

— Before the program is extracted to the knitting machine, the program will process all information in various steps, to make sure the knitting will run as smoothly as possible. So, if you don’t get the programming right, in the worst case, the knitting machine may crash, or might produce unwanted holes in the fabric. Luckily, I have a very skilled programmer in my team, that knows almost all the coding by heart, and who can transform my designs into technical performative programs for our knitting production.

Except for digital knitting, Nadia Wire also uses other special technologies in order to create an even more conscious brand.

— Zero waste is an issue close to my heart. Instead of cutting up fabrics and sewing them together, we create technical knitting calculations for each garment and pattern part in order to shape the fabric directly on the knitting machine. That way we avoid any unnecessary materials when producing our garments. So, when the fabric comes out of the machine it is already shaped and ready to be assembled, she explains.

— When we develop a garment, we also try to limit the number of seams, so we let the machine do most of the work. For example, we knit in our labels as it is being knitted on the machine. That way, we limit the number of parts that need to be assembled for a single garment. The same goes for trims and waistbands.

— Any waste that does occur in the development of our production, we save and re-knit with. For example, we have partnered with Anden Omgang that respins our waste knits into new functional yarns that we then re-knit with.

”I started this journey in order to bring textile production back to Denmark”

Tell us about your local production. How do you work?

— I started this journey in order to bring textile production back to Denmark. I believe that a production should have as small an impact on the globe as possible, which is why I decided to setup my own knitting production in Denmark. In that way, I can control the quality of products and make sure the production is working as efficiently and mindful as possible.

— Besides that, knitting manufacturing is almost non-exciting in Denmark these days, and I, therefore, didn’t see any other option than to start my own knitting facility. I researched the possibility to produce with an already existing factory in Denmark. However, made-to-order production was a specific requirement I had, which all the factories I spoke with couldn’t manage.

— I believe, one of the ways to address overproduction is simply to match supply and demand. Therefore we don’t produce until we have an order. I simply don’t believe in mass-production. Before I even launched my brand, I spent one and a half years setting up my production facility. It required a lot of work, patience, and money of course, but I believe it is worth it. I have started this knitting adventure to guarantee sustainable production with low environmental impact, fair labour, and high-quality products. Today my knitting production is operated by my team, specialized in digital knitting, manufacturing, and design, from all over the world.

What you describe seems like a great example of how the future for the fashion industry could and should look like, solving a bunch of issues that it’s currently facing.

— Yes, it has always been my goal with my brand and production to inspire and contribute with a positive mindful movement, which is needed in the fashion industry. I mean, I can or will never claim that our way of working is 100 % sustainable. There is definitely still room for growth and improvement, and we are constantly trying to improve our production, so we are being as mindful as possible.

— But with that being said, I am super proud of what we have accomplished so far in our design, development, and production team. The design team is working side by side with our development and production department, and therefore are we able to make well-informed decisions. We are skipping many chains by working this way, and we can work as efficiently as possible, without having to wait for prototypes to arrive for approval. This way, we can easily and immediately see if something is working or not, Wire explains. She continues:

— I can see, why it can be difficult for already established brands to set the reset button, and turn over, for example, their whole production department. But I do think, they can still improve the amount and quality of products that they put out there. As I see it, one of the main problems is that brands often think they need to offer everything in a collection — woven, knitwear, jersey, leather, shoes, jewelry, and so forth. It ends up with being an overload of products where most of it at some point will end on sale. 

— Whereas we believe in sticking to what we do best, and therefore only produce knitted exclusive drops of clothes.

— Since we only work with stock or deadstock yarns, it also makes our drops exclusive in the sense that our products will at some point go out of stock. We only buy the number of yarns that are available to us from our Italian suppliers and once we are out of stock, that specific color of a crewneck knitted jumper will automatically not be available anymore. This is also one of the reasons why we don’t do discounts. We simply don’t believe in devaluing our products, since it has been made to order for a specific store or a costumer.

This summer, Nadia Wire was part of a Scandinavian pop-up store at the shop Amomento in Seoul, Korea, together with other emerging Danish brands Birrot and A. Roge Hove. Her drops are available at Sabine Poupinel and Reve De Renard in Copenhagen, looking into expanding their sales internationally. 

— We have recently seen a lot of traffic in our webshop from countries such as USA and China and are looking into how we can expand our sales internationally, she tells.

Next week, she joins high-end vintage store Fil De Fer in Copenhagen.

— We are taking over their showroom for three days, decorating it in a completely ”Nadia Wire” style together with their beautiful antique interior, and showcasing our new Drop 3 (pictured in this article, Ed’s note) for press and buyers. The event will be open to the public next Saturday, October 9, where everyone can come and see our installation, try our new pieces, and place a pre-order before it hits the stores, the designer concludes.