I started Tallis to create ethical fur accessories, giving people the choice to buy products made from fur which has been up-cycled, reclaimed or is a by-product. As I designed and added new products, I found cashmere became an increasingly important part of the collection. Tallis is now as well know for our luxe cashmere scarves and beanies as our fur scarves and headbands. So the logical next step for Tallis is to branch out into larger knitwear pieces, just as we are doing with our larger
. I first headed to Italy in January to get the ball rolling at a factory which partly uses eco-cashmere (where the yarn is made using cashmere fibres recovered from industrial waste).
The factory we are partnering with is a dazzling hall of wonders, full of whirring machines and hushed, busy people. The process of making knitwear is as beautiful as the finished garments. The room is filled with rows of enormous knitting machines, each one programmed to knit a specific panel for a specific garment. Each row of machines is manned by two people who walk up and down the aisle checking the panels as they fall finished to the floor. The panels are then carried over to the finishing machines where they are joined together by hand. One machine (below, far right) is used to sew the skirt onto jumpers.
Turning a corner on my first visit, something struck me as bearing close similarity to a far-away land. As Vicky found out last summer
, weavers in India draw coloured charts to show the weaver the pattern as he or she works the machine. In Italy, I saw technicians mapping out patterns for the knitting machines on computer screens in a strikingly similar coloured grid pattern. Technology may change the process, but not the idea itself!
Working on this knitwear collection is an exciting new phase for Tallis. It is also my first foray into ready-to-wear and I am grateful for the team I'm working with.
What is Tallis cashmere going to be like? Imagine classic knitwear... with a twist. All to be unveiled in good time!
- Lilly Milligan Gilbert, Tallis Founder - Geneva 13 April 2016