23 October 2014

Knitted Swimsuit by Pelican Avenue

Text: Kathrin Leist

In the 1960s, it was the mini skirt. In the 1980s, the shoulder pads. In 2014, fashion designers are still using these designs, but what is new about them? Do the 2010s not have their own style? 


Indeed they do, but it is no longer a question of the height of a hem or the shape of one’s silhouette. The focus is on the techniques and the fabrics from which fashion is no longer tailored but is fused with. Couture without the couture; that is today’s mode. Avant-garde designers pounce on new technologies emanating from science. So, in the same way that we can taste whether vegetables have been blanched or fried, we can tell if a fabric has been woven or bonded and processed in the regular way. Technical details like bonding or the adhesion of fabrics which are often cut with lasers produces an entirely new overall aesthetic.


The difference is immediately visible. But what makes this swimsuit by Pelican Avenue so special? The 1950s pattern? No. The cut? There is no cut! That’s it. That’s why you sense that this swimsuit fits like a second skin. Because it has been knitted into shape using an elastic thread that hails from the watersports industry. Allowing you to swim unimpeded like a fish - hence its name. Even the lateral pattern is reminiscent of fins. “Basically, every swimsuit is a super-elastic knit. Only knitted fabric is usually cut and sewn together,” explains the designer Carolin Lerch, who studied knitting technology in Vienna before studying fashion in Antwerp.


“In the past few years, I have been increasingly interested in choosing design over technology, rather than seeking a technical solution for a design idea. As a designer you are completely dependent on the makers of the product. I think it’s fascinating to bring something new from the existing technical options.” Carolin Lerch works with an idealistic embroidery company in Belgium that is keen to experiment. She found the right yarn for the swimsuit with its high elasticity and stability in water at a yarn trade show in Italy. At the moment, this designer is having her innovation patented.

Generally, at Pelican Avenue, the idea is to reinterpret classic pieces. And to up-date them. Carolin Lerch cuts pleating with laser cut technology rather than handling the hems in pleated skirts the traditional way. This means that the pleats are more precise and the hems are more curvy. “I see discovering a production method as a type of counter-revolution against industrial mass production. If the process relies too heavily on manual work and is too expensive for mass production, then as a designer you can distance yourself from mass production. It is a good way of giving a signature to a small collection,” says Carolin Lerch. 


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