Lorena Laing is a Melbourne ‘fashion artist’ who launched Amano by Lorena Laing as a way to share her handcrafted artisan-style knitwear with the public. The brand is all about ethical and sustainable knitwear, and works with one of the last knitting mills still operating in Australia.
Every product is handcrafted in Australia, and the whole company is dedicated to working with local producers, artisans, craftspeople and artists. The brand also locally sources its materials, manufacturing and packaging locally, stating it feels a “responsibility to preserve and pass on [ageing artisanal skills] to future generations”.
Due to its artisanal nature, Amano creates clothing items that are more like bespoke, one-off artworks. The design concept is based around the individuality of handmade production, and the core concept is that no two pieces are exactly the same. The overall style will be the same, but the colours, details and specifics will be different.
Traditional production techniques like loom weaving, crochet and needle knitting are combined with the small run manufacturing of the traditional knitting mill to create the various garments. Natural materials like alpaca and high quality wool are used to ensure that the pieces last.
“The Alpaca fibre I work with is local and ethically sourced from Peru. The skilled artisans who weave and knit my designs are locals and it is important to me to focus on keeping my collections local and one hundred percent natural,” writes Laing.
Amano is very much about ‘slow fashion’. The brand wants the garments to be used, worn, and handed down, ideally to become family heirlooms.
“Amano takes great pride in hand-crafting its pieces with locally sourced materials, have zero waste and are crafted and packaged locally. We are aware of our carbon footprint, of our struggling manufacturing industry and our aging artisanal skills. We feel a responsibility to preserve these and ensure they exist for future generations.”
To help with controlling waste, for the brand’s ready-to-wear capsule collection Laing uses CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software to map out the garments in minute detail to reduce wastage.
While there is definitely a handmade ‘craftiness’ to the Amano aesthetic, you also see the influence of Japanese knitwear designers like Yuko Shimizu and Reiko Kuwamura in the voluminous shapes, as well as early Rick Owens open-work knits, and even the delicacy of the work by textile artists like Chris Motley and Gjertrud Hals.
The use of muted colours – neutrals, blacks, greys and warm browns – ensures that these garments are not trend focused. The oversized shapes also mean that Amano knitwear suits all body types and sizes.
Amano by Lorena Laing garments are not cheap, they are handmade after all, but they are not as expensive as you would imagine. One of these knits will last you for years, so the cost per wear is definitely worth the investment.
You can shop Amano by Lorena Laing online at lorenalaing.com, and once the coronavirus restrictions are over you can visit the atelier located at 631 Rathdowne Street Carlton North, Victoria, Australia. The designer also holds one-on-one styling sessions where you get a personal introduction to the garments from Laing, and you can also commission bespoke garments.