If you thought knitting was something your grandmother did for fun, wait till you see Liria Pristine’s creations. Forget winter scarves, think daring designer jewellery. One of London’s hottest knitwear designers, Liria graduated with a BA in Fashion Knitwear from Central Saint Martins and has gone on to take the fashion world by storm. With her work appearing everywhere from Brazil’s Next Top Model to Vogue, I was keen to catch up with Liria and talk all things knitting. Speaking all the way from her studio whilst freelancing in Sao Paulo in Brazil, Liria was more than happy to share her story with those hoping to follow in her footsteps.
How did you get to where you are today?
I came to London from Toronto to study fashion, but not knitwear specifically. I did my foundation in Art & Design at Camberwell College of Arts. Knitwear came during my course, while I was working on and preparing my portfolio in order to apply to Central Saint Martins. I then went on to a BA in Fashion Knitwear there.
What inspired you to pursue your career in fashion?
Costumes and couture - my love of colour, contrast and textures inspired me to work with fashion.
Did you have to complete any work experience as part of your course?
Yes, I did work experience with Bora Aksu and Rubecksen Yamanaka. Prior to my final year, I flew to Mauritius to work in a knitwear factory called Floreal Knitwear, where I was able to learn about knitwear from a more commercial and production point of view. I learnt about the fabrication of yarn and the process of yarn dyeing – this was an invaluable experience for me. I was lucky enough to be able to design and produce a mini in-house collection and was involved in every step
What makes your knitwear unique?
My knitwear does not follow the norm of what knitwear is suppose to be. It’s innovative, hard and structural, not soft and cosy, which is the first thing you think about when you hear the word knitwear.
What is the best part of your job?
Having the chance to work with people like Patrick Wolf, a musician/artist that I respect tremendously. Having the opportunity to work and collaborate with him was, and still is, amazing. I love working with people, musicians and performers. I love seeing a final product after putting so much hard work into the designing of it.
On the other hand, what is the hardest part?
Personally, it is staying true to myself. I need to find a way to be conceptual but also think on a business level. Finding ways to produce my collection is difficult, as a lot of money is involved in starting a label. I have to be creative but deal with all the business and promoting side of it – that can get difficult at times!
What are you most proud of?
I’m proud of myself, for working hard to get to where I want to be. It’s a tough industry and you need tough skin. You will face a lot of disappointments, but you need to filter these and make yourself a stronger person. You need to remember to not take things personally, but still use all the constructive criticism you get.
That’s really great advice, what else would you say to someone who is interested in the fashion industry?
Hard work is always my number one tip. Networking is very important, choosing the right college to fit your needs, personality and vision of the future. Make contacts, show your work, and refresh and update your portfolio.
Be yourself in order to stand out from the crowd, as there are many different people out there with many different tastes, but there is room for everyone as long as you work hard and be yourself. Find your niche and keep improving your skills. There’s lots of competition out there! There are many different paths in the fashion industry, so make sure you are aware of all of them. There’s print, knit, menswear, PR, marketing and plenty of others. Sometimes when people think of fashion they directly associate that with womenswear, but there is so much more to fashion then that.
If you dream of following in Liria’s footsteps, why not take a look at the fashion and knitwear courses listed on Hotcourses – who knows where you might end up?