Treacle first met Callum John Lowe (CJL) earlier this year when he approached us to have two of his designs knitted. This is just the kind of project we like working on and had just the knitter – our fabulous Ann (who has produced many many garments, both designed and knitted, for many top fashion houses over the years).
At our first meeting, we were intrigued and impressed by CJL – at just 23, he has a drive and passion for vintage design that is both exciting and quirky. CJL is in his final year of fashion design at Northumbria University in Newcastle and we will be blogging about his final collection, his ideas and influences and finding out who the man with a passion for design really is.
Our first blog gets some background from CJL:
“A lot of people who meet me say that I'm an old man trapped in a young body. I am a outdoor type, always on walks, who smokes a pipe and loves the history channel, beauty sleep and a cup of Bovril. Not forgetting my great love for fisherman jumpers.”
- I was born in Ashington, Northumberland in 1988
- I attended Ashington High School and then Newcastle College to study a National Diploma in General Art and Design. This helped me grasp the essence of creativity by trying a range of different paths in the design industry among them 3D design, fine art, textiles, interior and so on. I decided that my strongest and most enjoyable subject was fashion design, along with a keen interest in texture and knitwear. Whilst travelling from Ashington to Newcastle and back everyday, I often knitted on the bus.
- I had always intended to go to university, just like my older sister who also studied fashion at Northumbria and had inspired me from a young age. I got offered a place at Northumbria and accepted.
- Northumbria is where I really got into design and honed my skilled by learning to use a industrial sewing machine, and pattern cutting garments from scratch which was a lot more to do with the process of fashion rather then drawing garments from my head which could never really be made.
I remember there was a project which included knitting with renewable materials. As my mam's garden is like a tropical rain forest I decided to use one of her plants that had long leaves which I cut up and knitted with which I thought fantastic until my mam came home from work and found me cutting up one of her prized expensive plants - she was not happy!
- In Year 3 there is the opportunity to do a placement - I thought there would be no better place than London, one of the fashion capitals of the world. I secured a year placement at Dunhill which specialised in luxury menswear and has a wealth of history dating back to 1893 when it was established. And this is where a real love for all things old and historical really began to inspire me.
- One of my favourite things to do was on a Friday morning, going down to Portobello Market to look round the vintage stalls and draw inspiration form the clothes. The last 6 months of my placement I personally worked for Kim Jones, the creative director of Dunhill, which help me grasp the commercial and eccentric sides of the market - as important to any catwalk show or selling of a collection.
- Back at home in the North East I am embarking on the adventure of designing my collection around things that inspire me. If I used one word to describe the collection it is Functional - it has to evolve around its user.
- I am a firm believer that knitting and knitwear should be a part of everyone’s life. It is such a diverse skill that has been handed down generation to generation and should never be forgotten.
- My collection involves a lot of bespoke and one-off knitwear pieces which need involvement from experts who have a wide knowledge of knitting without following a pattern.
The next blog will tell you about my Design Philosophy giving you a much more in-depth understanding of the collection I am currently producing.
Treacle Wool Shop