Throughout the last couple of weeks, our creative director Beatrice Newman has been collaborating with several amazing Instagram platforms, talking about her brand Korlekie and everything that is close to her heart: traditional crafts and heritage techniques, her inspiration sources, the story behind starting Korlekie and examples of her actual creation process.
The Instagram accounts she had the chance to join for takeovers were an amazing promoter of crafts and traditions in fashion @commuknitty_ , a lovely community dedicated to black females who love crafts @blackgirlknitclub and the platform for black British online creators @blackbritishbloggers. Huge thanks to all of the platforms for collaborating with us, as Beatrice loved to be part of promoting the values we all share in both worlds of fashion and people of colour! Big love from Korlekie and we hope to continue working together in the future. ❤
This post will be summarising all the takeovers and bring you the highlights of Beatrice’s life and inspiration. However, the full-length takeovers are available from the following links:
Black Girl Knit Club: https://www.instagram.com/stories/highlights/18125854060138481/
Black British Bloggers: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CHS34BRg6KR/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet
- Who or what is Korlekie?
Korlekie means ’Queen of Eagles’. It holds from my father’s tribe Ga-Adangbe in Ghana, West Africa, which is also my tribe. Korlekie is one way for me to follow my heritage and roots from Africa, making me able to celebrate them. My craftsmanship is an extension of the cultural upbringing I had. The love of making opulent clothing, an influence from the Ghanaian & Africa queens that surround me.
- Is there a big fashion scene in Ghana? Do you go there often and how does it influence your designs?
Huge! I don’t get to go often but when I do I’m always amazed and inspired by the amount of creativity that is open and around. It doesn’t influence my designs per se, but the culture, food and music is just a completely different world from Europe and the UK. It gives me so much joy. If there was any influence, probably in colour and eclectic style.
- What inspires you and your designs?
I’m not particularly inspired by any one thing, but what really fills my design is the technical process of understanding textiles and its fabrications – I’m a huge fan of lace structures.
- When did you know you wanted to be a fashion designer?
I actually wasn’t too sure so I decided to do a B tech National diploma in all the arts: I learned photography, graphic design, fashion etc. And towards the 2nd part, I decided to go for fashion.
- How did you get started in knitwear?
My BA course provided a varied curriculum of skills, including knitwear. So I learned how to knit on a domestic knit machine. I actually hated it in the beginning but learned to love it in the end with my lecturer encouraging me. Speaking of knitwear, when I started I began to realise that knitwear wasn’t seen as the main fabric of choice to create a whole collection. Except for some specific brands, knitwear wasn’t really seen as an everything piece of wardrobe, but rather only seen as a winter style.
That understanding really excited me because I felt that there is an open market to a be a business brand/designer that could really take knitwear and create occasional pieces that haven’t really happened before except a few exceptions. So a lot of my knitwear philosophy was centred around creating amazing textiles or fabrications that were knit but people wouldn’t realise is knit. Therefore opening up to a more inclusive market to design based on a fabric that people would never have thought could be worn in summer. Further experimentations led me down different paths where I discovered heritage techniques and digital processes such as UV mapping that added to my creative vision.
- How did you enter the knitwear industry and start your own brand, investment and such?
After my MA’s catwalk show, I received a lot of press, which gave me a platform to use this as a launchpad for my brand. I worked part-time/full-time jobs and was able to apply for creative initiatives that fuelled my business knowledge and introduced me to influential people.
- When did you become a lecturer? How do you find time to do that and still run Korlekie?
I became a lecturer after volunteering with @fadcharity after my BA. They recommended me to a college and my lecturing career spun from there. I was able to work my way up to my current post as Head of Department in Fashion @fashionuel. I learned earlier on in my lecturing career how to find a balance so I’m mentally able to juggle full-time lecturing and designing. Working at a university also has its perks so I can work from campus if I need to. I also have amazing interns working remotely for me so their support definitely helps.
- What does your knitting process look like?
Fun fact: I taught myself how to crochet… by using a book! (YouTube was still relatively new so I didn’t get the opportunity to watch video tutorials like you have today).
My knitting process on brother domestic can be seen in the following picture on the left. Each lace semi-circle of this dress takes about 10mins to manipulate and create and is later hand-stitched together. There are about 4 different sizes used on this dress and the total semi-circles used are about 40. The picture on the right presents the final product that was created from the laces.
For more exciting videos of my knitting process, see the links to the full IGTV videos in the begging of this post!
- What’s your favourite thing to make on your domestic knit machine?
I don’t really have a favourite thing but I like to create dresses. I usually start off exploring stitch variations of lace which will eventually be turned into a glamorous dress/garment.
- What is the thing you love the most about knitwear?
It’s versatility. It has so many possibilities and outcomes, fabrications, manipulations and stitches. It’s a medium where I feel you can still be new and innovative in fashion because not everything „ has been done before“.
- Is there anyone in your life who has helped you become the woman you are today?
My family and friends, people and creatives I have met along the way. Educators have also made a huge impression in my life from my BA degree to London Business School mentors.
- What changes do you want to see in the fashion industry? What’s next for Korlekie?
More diverse and inclusive brands. The re-structure of the business model that allows the opportunity for a fairer, local economy for emerging and start-up brands. Better integration between education and industry. #slowfashion is king!
For Korlekie, I am currently exploring new knitwear fabrications and construction techniques using 3D printing. Hopefully, I’ll get to share the process with you soon.
Thank you for taking the time to get to know our fabulous creative director a little better and feel free to follow @korlekie to see more takeovers and IGTV videos in the future. Stay safe!