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Trends in Knitwear from the Autumn/Winter 2018 catwalk shows

Knitwear Trends from the catwalks

      There are some really interesting changes afoot in the fashion world at the moment, largely related to global and sexual politics rather than being driven by the latest pop star looks or Oscar winning movie trends (remember The Great Gatsby, Out of Africa, Annie Hall.... the list goes on). Massive celebrity endorsement of the Me Too movement and the debate about the objectification and sexualisation of young women (and men) has had some interesting repercussions in the fashion industry.

      Even climate change and some recent extreme winters  appear to have informed some of the design choices available, so let's take a look at some of them. Before I list the trends I think jump out most to knitters from the shows, follow the link below to The Fashion Stylist Institute YouTube video for this autumn winter and see how many of my list trends you can spot. Then try the video at the bottom of the page to see this year's colour palette and examples of their use.


  • Layers (or why wear one coat when you can wear two?) This look is a great way to not only keep warm but to follow the 'Modesty' trend. The catwalk extreme version has so many layers of knits and fabrics for both men and women that it looks as though a convention of Telly Tubbies went through the dressing up box. couldn't decide what to wear, and so wore it all. On the other hand, if winter plunges us into arctic temperatures it combines practicality with fashion.

  • The big baggy sweater, (and its friend the big baggy cardigan). A must for the layered look but very wearable with anything from jeans to a long skirt (or a mini with cute boots and leggings or knitted tights). These come in a variety of representations; there are some gorgeous classy textured ones heavy with complex cabling, big plain fluffy ones, often semi-translucent and worn with more evening looks, multi-coloured versions with busy ethnic or fair-isle patterning, name the style and there's probably a big cardi or sweater to go with it. Lengths show a similar variety, your sweater/cardi can stop at your rib cage or at mid-calf.

  • The knitted cardigan coat, sweater dress and skirt. Back in a big way, these satisfy the designer's need to produce a body-con look for all the women who spend a fortune on trying to achieve the 'perfect' (and entirely unnatural) skinny but curvy and not at all unhealthy figure. The strong trend for modesty injects a welcome length (below knee and down, hardly any minis to be seen), often with high necklines, and although the fit is quite close from bust to hip it is rarely overly-tight and either drops fairly straight from hip-bone to hem or has a nice swinging flare. I love nearly all of them but particularly the richly cabled ankle length cardigan coats.

  • Asymmetric lines. Both in fabric and knits (particularly knitted skirts in some collections) you will find lots of asymmetric shapes, often in a draped or wrapped form, and, with the skirts, a defining ruffle along the hem. In sweaters this trend can appear as an off-the-shoulder wide neckline or hemline, but also (and rather strangely) as a big puffy shoulder on one side with a more normal fitted shoulder on the other. A step too far for me, and an unlikely look to find its way big time onto the high street!

  •  The fine knit roll neck sweater (for men and women). This is a practical and popular item in many of the catwalk shows. Normally a very fine gauge knit  with an extra long roll neck, which, rather than being rolled has its extended length styled as a graceful natural ruched effect as it slips down slightly.  Worn either as the first of many layers or teamed with the new androgynous pant suits (either on their own or beneath a sharp shirt/waistcoat or both)! The fit is relatively close to the body particularly beneath sharp tailored looks.   

  • Shoulders are in again, and out again as well. Perhaps the tailored suiting for women reminded designers of 'Dallas' and they took it from there;  we have shoulders that draw attention with big gathered sleeve heads, shoulders square and broad with shoulder pads, off-the-shoulder asymetrics, and big dropped shoulder lines to make room for all those other layers! To extend the shoulder theme in terms of knitting, the sleeves that go with them, whether baggy or fitted, are normally very long, often flaring slightly over the hand. Impractical, but very Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen!

  • Inside out. An interesting trend trend this one, though many knitwear designers have experimented with it over the years. At the more conservative end of the scale, a garment has the 'wrong' side of the knitted fabric showing, usually with the yarn carried behind as a loop in the stitch pattern creating an unusual woven texture. At the more extreme end of the spectrum look for big baggy sweaters with intarsia cartoon characters, again with the wrong side showing, and without the loose ends of the different coloured yarns being neatly worked in. The effect is rather rustic, with the cartoon character shape less sharply defined than in a 'right side' presentation, and sporting an uneven fringe of loose ends around the edges.

  • Textures and Embellishments. Surface texture is really important this year for knitwear and for fabrics in the layered look scenarios. There are masses of gorgeous cable knits and bobbles where texture is knitted into the actual fabrics, and the Inside Out knits feature the 'rough' side of a predominantly smooth stocking stitch based pattern. Lots of the surface texture is applied however; big loose 3-d applique, sequins, fringes, beading - you name it some designer has attached it to a knitted garment in their collection. At its best it adds drama and visual interest, at its worst it can be headache inducing!!


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