London designer Sania Parvez‘s eponymous brand places sustainability at the heart of its design practices, upcycling existing materials into new, unique clothing. The knitwear label creates fluid, timeless designs that are made-to-order with elements like cut-outs that accentuate the body and silhouettes that explore self-confidence and security.
The garments are kept simple yet eye-catching with neutral hues like black and cream made using cotton yarn and lycra. Pieces such as the Cream Knit Lace Set and Cut Out Knitted Rib Dress serve as standouts from the designer. Meanwhile, the range continues with the Diagonal Ribbed Crop Top, which features a flattering one-shoulder look, as well as the Long Knit Mesh Skirt which can be paired with any of the brand’s tops. The theme is continued on lace skirts and knitted dresses with sheer lining.
Elsewhere, the designer creates a number of one-off garments that are sold exclusively at APOC Store, with many of the pieces inspiring staples of the brand. “A lot of the one-off pieces have then sparked ideas for new works, which have become staples of mine, so for the time being, the process is very fluid,” Parvez tells us. “I hope to be making more as they are so much fun to make.”
To learn more about the label, we spoke with the designer in regards to recognizing the power of fashion, her knitwear concepts, and sustainability efforts in fashion. View Sania Parvez’s garments below and read on for our conversation.
To begin with, I’d love to know more about your upbringing and when you recognized the power that fashion holds. Do you remember when you first became interested in knits?
I come from Leyon, East London, and growing up I’ve always loved styling and was fascinated by fabric construction, I never aspired to be in fashion, but I always knew I would do something creative. I’ve always had an interest in knitting from a young age, I first learned to hand knit from my mother, aged eight, and I knitted on and off up until I was 15. It wasn’t until university that I saw the endless possibilities within knit and that’s kind of when my curiosity around fashion knitwear started to surface.
What was your experience of studying at Chelsea College of Arts like?
I graduated from Chelsea in 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic. I did a BA Textile Design course, and to be honest, I have very mixed feelings about my time at UAL. I believe it steered me in the direction as we had to pick one discipline to specialize in, either print, weave, knit or stitch; knit was the only one I felt confident in having some prior knowledge. However, a lot of what I know today was self-taught through internships I took upon myself during my second year, books, and YouTube.
Can you talk me through your aesthetic and what you’re trying to achieve with the brand?
I want to make the person wearing the clothes feel good; that’s the main objective and of course confident. It’s all about pushing the boundaries, and I think you can almost certainly do that in knitwear! I remember shying away when someone would ask me what I do, as knitwear often doesn’t come across as cool. As I’m solely a knitwear brand, I want to prove to people that it can be daring and provoking whilst showing the craftsmanship in the details.
I love the concepts for each of your knitwear designs. Whether it be the Knit Lace Sets, Ribbed Cut Out Dress or Ribbed Crop Tops—how do you come up with these ideas, and how long does each individual piece usually take to make?
Thank you! It’s hard to say as I work very differently to the ‘standard’ fashion way, for example, I don’t sketch, like ever. Instead, I go off with a vision in my head and a measurement sheet in front of me and begin planning through small samples, which I will then calculate how many rows and stitches I will need per panel. I fully fashion everything meaning there is zero waste, and everything is knitted to measure. This process is time-consuming; the calculations alone can sometimes take between 1-2 hours, and to incorporate an entire garment and finish it can take between 2-5 days, depending on what it is.
Can you delve a bit more into your design process and where you draw inspiration from?
Most one-off pieces I’ve made are upcycled from failed knit panels I have done in the past, where I’ve got the calculations slightly wrong. So instead of wasting the yarn, I drape the panels onto a mannequin and let creativity take over. I’m learning to accept that mistakes happen and see the beauty in them. A lot of the one-off pieces have then sparked ideas for new works, which have become staples of mine, so for the time being, the process is very fluid, haha, and I hope to be making more as they are so much fun to make.
Sustainability efforts, as we’ve seen over the past couple of years, have become increasingly more prevalent. Are upcycling and sustainability important for you, and if so, how does that steer your design process?
Substantiality is an integral part of my brand, hence why pieces take a long time to make; everything is slow and calculated to ensure zero waste is produced. As I mentioned previously, if there is waste, which happens now and again, those panels will be used for something else. The idea of throwing things away does not sit well with me haha as over the past year and a half, I’ve done my research to understand how the fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters of our planet.
However, this does not mean stopping making clothes altogether; it is about being mindful of our choices. For example, I never cut and sew, which is often used in fast fashion knitwear; I buy my eco-friendly yarns where possible. Everything is also ‘made to order,’ which lowers the waste count as I don’t have stock chilling in my studio. It’s the little things haha.
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