Not Your Grandmother's Knits

Updated: Dec 21, 2020

You don't need me to tell you that the fashion industry creates a ton of textile waste. Like literal actual tons of textile waste. Literal. And while a lot of that is the fault of the industry and not the consumer, it does feel good to support fashion producers who try their best to offset this waste. As fall rolls around, I'm sure you've all joined me in looking at some fresh knitwear for the forthcoming season, especially as we all hole up in our cozy little homes for the next wave of the pandemic (YES things are that bleak). And while sustainable knitwear can be a little difficult to find, a Hong Kong based brand is happy to end your search.

Enter Yan Yan Knits. Meaning everyone in Cantonese, Yan Yan was founded by industry vet Phyllis Chan formerly of rag + bone, and designer Suzzie Chung, on the basis of combining Chinese design and knit textiles in a way that isn't often seen. Not only does Yan Yan work to break down the barriers for "Eastern" design sense within the "Western" canon, the brand also prides itself on their Leftover Yarn Mission.

Now what is the mission exactly? Yan Yan dedicates itself to manufacturing its knitwear using minimum 50% recycled yarn that has been discarded from other design houses during the design process. This is great news because unfortunately so much yarn does go to waste in the fashion industry when it's not a right fit for one designer, however Yan Yan is happy to make the most of it. While this operation isn't 100% sustainable it is absolutely a step in the right direction towards waste reduction in the fashion industry, so we are more than happy to patronize. Not only that, but Yan Yan's style is an incredibly fun twist on knitwear that pushes boundaries of knit styles and brings a very fresh flavour to fashion. On that note, please familiarize yourself with five sweater styles by Yan Yan that are both sustainable, and not your grandmother's knits.

Rosie Grandpa Cardigan in Melange Grey

The Rosie is a staple Yan Yan pattern and comes it sweet dresses, tops and bottoms for you to mix and match different sets! This particular cardigan, however, is an extremely fun way to bring a little spring into the autumn for those of us who are not quite willing to let warm weather go. The two tone colour brings a fresh twist on a classic cardigan style, and will with certainty keep you warm all fall long. Plus, the grey tones are guaranteed to go with anything, while the floral decor adds a little pop of colour to any outfit.

Momo Colorblock Cardigan in Charcoal

This cropped cardigan keeps it fun while still being office - or zoom - friendly. The alternating button pattern is a Yan Yan signature style, and we see why considering it's a very contemporary take on classic knitwear. And while the colour blocking on this cardigan may be a little out there for some, the fairly neutral, fall colour pallet makes this cardigan extremely wearable all autumn long. Consider this piece to add a little fun to your wardrobe without going overboard. Oh, and reminder, cropped cardigans are like ~the~ piece of the season.

Laza Cardigan in Navy Jacquard

This just in! This Yan Yan classic is now available in a new colorway for fall! A navy backdrop makes the bright rainbow jacquard pattern absolutely pop while staying true to autumn. As Yan Yan seeks to combine Chinese fashion with untraditional knit textiles in a contemporary way, the Laza is an obvious, yet refreshing take on a knit sweater. Not only that, but the matching knit trousers are a perfect pairing to stay cozy indoors this fall. Best of all, this Chinese style is created intentionally by Chinese designers, casting any cultural appropriation concern aside.

Funfetti Oversized Vest in Multicolor Tweed

I think we can all agree that sweater vests are very much a trendy piece this autumn. And while we can't guarantee their staying power into coming seasons, if you've fallen in love with sweater vests, this is just for you! The funfetti colour combination of this vest is the blueprint for combining neutrals and neons in an effective way, and manages to be wearable, yet exciting, at the same time. Plus the side slits on this piece allow it to be worn in a variety of ways including as a tunic, front tucked or tucked in completely. How it's styled is on you!

Sunblock Grandpa Cardigan in Colorblock

Cardigans really are IT this season. And are we surprised? Super cute, super wearable, and as proven by Yan Yan, super adaptable to exist in endless contemporary forms. This fun little color block number is one part cool art teacher, one part granola gf, and I promise you that's a WHOLE look. Trust me... Anyways, this is the absolute fall statement piece while still keeping you cute and cozy. Christian girl autumn who? We are wearing colorful, recycled wool with ABANDON!

Cover image featuring Knit House by artist Annie Belle