Jacob Coburn-Blaauw talks to the designer behind an emergence of technicolour transcending the boundaries of knitwear that is Alicia Robinson’s AGR
Existing as merely an idea whilst working under world-renowned designers like Missoni and Yeezy, then emerging into a technicoloured showcase, the AGR AW21 collection rests its roots in Nomadic grunge. Filled to the brim with dense mohair knits, unorthodox patchwork pairings and vivid colour fusions, the warmth so evident in the collection is achieved with a broad selection of heavy knits. And yet, London-based designer Alicia Robinson is casting her eye on a much bigger vision. Here, she speaks on transforming knitwear’s traditions.
Hello Alicia. With this seasons theme being ‘Nomadic grunge,’ could you elaborate on how that idea came about?
Alicia: AGR as a brand generally goes against the rules of traditional knitwear. The AW20 collection had a naturally ‘punky’ feel to it from the very start, as we tried to develop stripes from standard straight lines into printed and hand-sprayed gradients. In addition, I’ve had an obsession with brushed mohair for a while, which gives the garments an extra fuzzy layer and which isn’t necessarily common in traditional knitwear. All the ideas just slotted into place in the end into some kind of wandering grunge.
Here, the collection’s overall theme is embodied to a tee. With the zip-up hoodie’s dulled colour block mismatches, as well as the mohair sweaters alternating red and green ribbed stripes, it only amplifies the connotations of the wandering Nomad, but reimagined with that sweet ‘AGR touch’.
How often do you alter and experiment with you knit techniques? Are there any changes you could describe in this season’s collection?
Alicia: We are constantly developing and exploring new techniques in our studio, especially now that we have our own STOLL knitting machine, which creates so many more possibilities for us. For this season, we concentrated a lot on plaiting different fabrics – e.g., cotton ribs with brushed mohair, and then also dipped our toes into knitted cables, which was a first for the brand. Knitted cables are a little too traditional for me, so that’s why we decided to spray them with a technicolour rainbow in a signature AGR manner.
AGR is of course known for its vivid colour fusions, but is there a specific method to coordinating a piece’s colour scheme?
Alicia: To be honest, I think it’s one part natural affinity towards colours, and one part trial and error – and a pretty big one at that. At some point you’ll know what colour to add to make it feel right. In my day-to-day I usually focus on colour or seeing things in stripes, and I also like to frame things a lot with black. Plus, I have a love for certain colour combinations, especially for fluro green. Which is no surprise if you look at our logo.
Various experimental knit techniques are forged together in the cotton-blend patchwork sweaters. Featuring brushed mohair and ribbed detailing, these sleeveless sweaters make for countless style options alongside their extensive colour palette. Paired with printed denim cargo pants, the ever-so-psychedelic hues allude a 90’s rave scene rebirth.
Is there a particular piece from AW21 that you feel the proudest of?
Alicia: My favourites from AW21 collection without a doubt are the hand-sprayed pieces, because they show a beautiful collaboration between artist Joel Holbrook and myself. Once we moved into our new studio, he sprayed a huge AGR mural of swirling colours on our studio wall, and from then it seemed like such an obvious next step to have him spray our knits. They ended up being some of our top sellers.
This is the first time seeing puffer jackets in an AGR collection. Was this an idea you had always wanted to execute since the founding of the brand?
Alicia: This was something I wanted to execute since before the brand even existed. I live for a puffer jacket! For AW21 we finally made it happen, and the rainbow puffer has been a huge hit with our community. Get ready to see many, many more puffers in our next collections.
Robinson debuted a range of technicolour dreamcoats for the winter season. Two long down coats with intricate patterning featured glacier blues fading to midnight navy, and hot pinks that clashed with bright yellows and greens. Puffer jackets that touched the colour spectrum entirely came in both sleeved and sleeveless variants, broadening an already abundant combination of styles.
As far as experimental goes, AGR AW21 took a turn for the best this season. Alicia Robinson’s ever-changing approach to knitwear distorts traditions, forging new boundaries and makes possibilities limitless with every iteration.
Finally, is there a particular celebrity/artist you would love to see in AGR?
I would really love to see J Hus in my pieces – always been a big fan.
For more information on AGR AW21, click here