Thread Forum:
Karol Goodwin
Edition 90
Karol Goodwin: the real “American Fashion Lexicon”

As in the common thread that connects the various interventions in an online conversation, the Thread Forum project, curated by Antonio Mancinelli, is a survey of the role of knitwear in contemporary aesthetics. Thanks to a series of interviews with the most well-known knitwear designers in the world, selected among Pitti Filati participants, it also intends to take on the questions that retailers and buyers often ask themselves and have no easy answers. Conversations on the "here" and "now" of a material that has always been part of fashion culture.

Menswear only for Karol Goodwin, Senior Designer of Flint and Tinder, the internal and most prestigious line owned by the Huckberry company. Here, the best fabrics and yarns on the market are used "not only to provide durable and weatherproof garments but also to tell the most authentic and genuine story of our country. We aim to redesign, season after season, the cornerstones of the American Way of Life, very much connected to the outdoors, which aims to redesign, season after season, the cornerstones of the American Way of Dressing when it comes to menswear," says the young designer. She lives and works in Austin, Texas, which is also home to Huckberry. "And even though I am the head of a team that designs everything, my affection goes to knitted fabrics because it's those that make the garments closest to the body, enhancing and protecting it.
How did you start?

I did not have the sacred designer’s fire oburning within me, as some legendary ways would want: I started university to study biology, which I obviously never finished. But my grandmother, who used to design clothes, pushed me to get into fashion school. That made me want to pursue costume design first - maybe that's why Flint and Tinder chose me? - and then move on to actual fashion. But I am still interested in science, and I believe that yarns are also an excellent subject of study from a technological point of view. I often find myself talking to my mother, who is an actual scientist, to find the pros and cons of a certain fiber and its performance to be applied in my work.
Has this approach in-between creativity and rationality ever led you to think about fashion's impact on the environment?

Of course. And I don't believe those who say: “we can't do anything but produce less.” Of course, the durability of the garments is a fundamental requirement, but this quality has always been part of Flint and Tinder's DNA. It is why we have been working for years with recycled yarns, often mixed with new or artificial ones, and at Pitti Filati, we have always found excellent results from new experiments. I believe that science and creativity are destined to be more and more connected in the future. After all, there are so many variations of the word "sustainability" that I think it is a moral and ethical duty, rather than an aesthetic one, to try to find all the solutions.

Do you think that, even for such a deliberately "traditional" brand in its heritage, men have changed their relationship with knitwear?

Surely. For example, they are more open to new blends of materials but also to cultivate a new passion for color. So, as you see, here too, we are dealing with two parallel desires, one more linked to the practical aspect, the other to emotions. And the competence of materials has also increased, so now my main concern is safeguarding quality.
Does the selection of fibers affect your creativity?

For sure: it is essential for renewing the colors and stitches to choose for the next collection.

What are the skills that a good knitwear designer should have?

To not be afraid to mix creativity with technical information: for example, I have studied for many years the size of the needles, the functioning of the machines, the patterns once they have to be translated into knitwear. Wanting to understand also opens the mind to expressive invention.

What was it like to work during the pandemic: did it hinder your work?

It was such an epochal event that it led all of us who work in fashion to rethink production, quantity, speed. But I must also admit that, since I went to the factory even during the lockdown, it created a team spirit with all my collaborators - some remotely, others in presence - that I would like to remain forever. Precisely, to arrive all together at a greater awareness of the value and consequences of what we do.

What did you miss most in that dramatic period?

(Laughs) ... Not being able to go around flea markets. For me, it is a ritual, and it is a source of inspiration, a chance to rediscover the American heritage in terms of clothing. For me, vintage is like a goldmine of ideas. But then I try to make them with the most technical and original yarns that I find in the most innovative fairs.