harry were’s knits are pieces of new zealand

The photographer is making dreamy knits inspired by home and underwear.

by Wendy Syfret
24 September 2015, 6:02am

New Zealand photographer Harry Were takes unpretentious photos of her friends and the beautiful places they hang out. But recently, the shooter turned her eye for the perfectly undone to clothes, and brought out her first line of knitwear. The pieces are designed by Harry with the help of a group of local women she affectionately calls "the ladies". After years of having her own perfect pieces made, she decided to make them available on her site. The response was swift, excited, and largely unexpected.

Harry has a strange ability to create items that feel very far away from fashion, but rather look like the instant favourites you wish you'd find in your parent's wardrobe. Inspired by New Zealand and people she knows, they're jumpers made for wearing on windswept beaches, rainy days, and in your dreams.

Hey Harry, so we know you as a photographer, but tell us where these knits fit in.
I've got clothes made and jumpers knitted for me for a while now, I really like the personal thing of knowing the ladies who make me things. My friends said they also wanted them, so that's how I got into making and selling them on the website.

I've knitted since I was eight, but the ladies can knit faster than I can. I have the ideas then we work out how to come up with my own designs. The ladies help me do that since they're more experienced.

So it's very much a collaboration between yourself and these women.
Sort of. The designs are all by me, but hand-knitted by them. They are very talented. It's a back and forth process a lot of the time.. I find a lot of the hand-knitted patterns you can buy at the moment are quite dated-even if they're new. I like trying to create more fun and wearable stuff.

That's what's so nice about them-they're very fashionable but not "on trend". They're the kind of jumpers everyone wants, but not what I'd picture if you told me this cool young artist is making clothes. Are they inspired by anything in particular?
Lots of things. I work at an amazing shop here in Auckland called Scotties, and for the first lot of jumpers I did, I took a little bit of inspiration from the ladies I work with. In particular I really like my boss Marilyn Sainty's style and the way she wears shapes. Lots of people and friends inspire me, but so does New Zealand itself. Even if I'm not doing jumpers with landscape scenes-which I have done-but in the textures and colours I'm using. I picked them up from my surroundings here. Day to day things inspire me too, like underwear and t-shirts.

I saw some of the knits use possum fur, is that a reflection of the New Zealand element?
I like that yarn because I find it very New Zealand-ish [laughs] but some people find it weird that I use it. In New Zealand possums are pests and lots get killed because they ruin the wildlife. I'm using the fur of possums that have already been killed- they're not killing them just for their fur, it is a bi-product.

The possum yarn doesn't pill very easily, and they say it's warmer than cashmere. It's just super, super soft. I get really bad eczema and when I wear the possum jumpers it doesn't really affect me. That's probably why I use it too

I noticed the pieces are all one size. Tell me about that decision?
I try to make all my jumpers one size because I want everyone to be able to wear them That's a conscious thing. If I do one size fits all, hopefully they fit most people and they're more like one offs.

Is that also why the runs are so small? So each piece remains special?
I find it very personal when the ladies knit things for me, and I want my jumpers and hand-knits to feel like that when people purchase them. They are special to me and I hope the buyer thinks that too.

For more from Harry, check out our New Zealand Ones to Watch


Text Wendy Syfret
Photography Harry Were

Harry Were