Knitwear has always been central to AGR, although the emerging London label doesn’t necessarily fit people’s expectations of the category. Founder Alicia Robinson cut her teeth in the knitwear world but, since she established her namesake label, has made a point of pushing the category in new and interesting directions.
Robinson’s departure from traditional knitwear is clear through the experimentation at the heart of AGR’s work. For the label’s Fall/Winter 2022 collection, this includes references to everything from trompe l’oeil and 16th century Italian needlepoints to illustrated knitting books from the 1970s, while the collection uses innovative techniques to overlay print and knit.
“The process of making something is really beautiful within itself.”
“Recently, I’ve been thinking that I want us to be known as an innovative knitwear brand,” Robinson explains. “That’s why every season we’re exploring new techniques. We’re like that because I enjoy the process of making swatches or doing tie-dye tests just as if not more than having the final piece in my hands. The process of making something is really beautiful within itself.”
As well as exploring new techniques, another big difference from traditional knitwear is the use of color, with neon stripes and patterns used throughout the label’s work. “Color just makes me happy,” Robinson tells HYPEBEAST. “I see everything in color or stripes, that’s always been the way that I work. I’m not afraid of using color and I think a lot of designers are. You just have to have the confidence in yourself to say “that looks banging.” You literally have to back yourself, and even if it doesn’t look good, you could probably convince someone that it does.”
Color continues to play an important role in the FW22 collection, with hits of lime green, neon magenta and more appearing throughout. Some items – such as a jacquard hoodie – feature as many as eight different colors in their construction. This all contributes to the ‘90s influence across AGR collections, which is also referenced through diamanté T-shirts in the upcoming collection.
This use of color has been a key touchstone in Robinson’s work, and can clearly be seen in a Notting Hill Carnival project she worked on in 2018. This project – originally just for a group of friends – would end up launching AGR into the wider world. “A couple of my friends had asked me to make them outfits for Carnival,” Robinson explains. “It started as three people but it ended up being about 15.” One of Robinson’s friends suggested she document this project, with another capturing images of the outfits at Carnival. “It worked out amazingly, it became such an organic project. It’d be so hard to shoot like that again because it was all so natural.”
“When you’re wearing a rainbow puffer, how can you be sad?”
As well as attracting the interest of buyers, the Carnival project also brought Robinson to the attention of Nike. The brand initially supplied sneakers for the shoot, beginning a relationship that reached fruition with a large-scale AGR installation at London’s NikeTown last year. The ongoing project with Nike is just one part of AGR’s expansion, with the label also beginning to move beyond knitwear through the launch of new categories.
“We’ve been able to make some of my favorite sort of pieces,” Robinson says. “I’m obsessed with puffer jackets, so it’s a dream come true to be able to make our own puffer jackets. And when you’re wearing a rainbow puffer, how can you be sad?” Puffer jackets aren’t the end of these new categories though, and the upcoming FW22 collection also sees the introduction of faux fur pieces for the first time. “We’ve printed our own faux fur, which I think is very special. If we can’t find what we need, we just have to make it ourselves.”
While launching new categories is an exciting development for the label, it’s not without its risks. “When people first come to AGR, everyone is coming for knitwear and they might not necessarily be looking for a puffer jacket,” Robinson says. “When you’re launching a new style or category, it could be slow at taking up, which can be hard. But we’ve generally been quite lucky, although it’s a fingers crossed moment when things go up for sale.”
Looking beyond the FW22 collection, the next year promises to be a big one for AGR. Since 2020, the emerging label has gone from strength to strength – including the purchase of a new knitting machine – and now Robinson is looking to the next stage. “I would like our projects with Nike to become a rolling partnership, and one day a trainer collaboration, that’s the dream,” Robinson says. “This year we’re also going to have our first catwalk show. That’s a big one for us.”