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Making and Identity: Florian Eisele on using creative knitwear to channel emotions

black and white photo of models in knitwear designs
  • Written byJ Igiri
  • Published date 25 January 2023
black and white photo of models in knitwear designs
Photographer: Alex Johnson, Model: Alexia Cerqueria, Model: Bakhita Alual | Florian Eisele | BA (Hons) Fashion Textiles: Knit

How do you find your creative path as a maker or designer during your studies? We spoke with Florian Eisele, a recent graduate from BA (Hons) Fashion Textiles: Knit at London College of Fashion, about their passions, inspiration, and how collaborative projects have helped them express their identity through making.

photo of Florian in graduation gowns
Florian Eisele | BA (Hons) Fashion Textiles: Knit
Hi Florian! Please introduce yourself and summarise what you do...

My name is Florian Eisele, I’m 21 and I come from Munich, Germany. Currently I work at Burberry as a Product Developer for the Knitwear Runway Team. True to my heart I’m a Knitwear Designer, capturing my own emotions and translating them into knit. In the past, I worked in a Knitwear Studio called KBN Knitwear, experiencing his growth and learning all around the process of industrially developing knitwear. This involved communicating with clients, yarn consultation and textile developments, developing patterns, programming knit on industrialized knitting machines, creating prototypes and working in a close team. Besides that, KBN had its own label by the owner Khanh Brice Nguyen, where we also worked on the design process. LCF prepared me with a lot of knowledge to achieve these steps.

model in multicoloured knitwear design
'René Aubry - Clear Water' | Florian Eisele | BA (Hons) Fashion Textiles: Knit
What inspires your knitwear and creativity?

My inspiration comes from a lot of things, but a main focus in my work is my relation to ballet, which I trained in since I was 6 years old – so now almost 15 years. Connected to that is the grandeur, which translates to my own queer identity and my expression of it in London, the night life and the challenges that come with it. Growing up in Munich gave me a close connection to nature and the importance of family.

All these themes resonated through my course at London College of Fashion. With the great technical knowledge I gained and pushed in my own time, I started to develop my own language, as well as the importance of collaborating and using my knowledge to freelance for other designers like Karoline Vitto, Sophie Steller, Frederico Baldini and Joao Machado.

photo of model in multicoloured knitwear design
Photographer: Alex Johnson, Model: Bakhita Alual | Florian Eisele | BA (Hons) Fashion Textiles: Knit
Congratulations on winning the Carr Doughty Bursary Award from The Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters to support your final major project. What does this award and experience mean to you?

This award meant so much to me and the support continues until now. My mentors are always reachable and the opportunities I got brought me to where I am now – I’m so grateful for that. Also, the support during my final major project opened a lot of new possibilities, like being able to find globally known industrial yarns with which I was able to independently develop samples and garment on STOLL, as well as exploring ranges in colour, texture and sustainable approaches. This was a new achievement for me to work independently on an industrial level, which is what this award means to me.

patterned textile
Florian Eisele | BA (Hons) Fashion Textiles: Knit
Tell us about your final major project – what did you set out to achieve and what did you create in the end?
My expectations and fear that came with knowing this would be the last project at my university, as well as not having access to the resources afterwards, was unhelpful and completely unnecessary because the connections from my degree will continue, and new doors will always open.

I was very pleased with my outcomes at the end, showing my strengths of collaborating, listening to briefs and different identities, as well as challenging and finding my own identity through knit and dance. The project showed I am always pushing my technical knowledge and putting craft at the centre of my work.

collage of model in multicoloured knitwear designs
Photographer: Holly McCandless-Desmond, Stylist: Aliona Kolesnikova, Movement Director: Lee Jay Hoy, Model: Emily Yelverton | Florian Eisele | BA (Hons) Fashion Textiles: Knit

My FMP had three main outcomes: a collaboration for Joao Machado’s MA Menswear Show at Central Saint Martins, an internship at Karoline Vitto, and my own work with textiles – following different trends and a collaboration with two dancers from Rambert, where I created garments for a choreography, capturing the storytelling of my project supported by René Aubry’s music sponsored by Music Box Publishing.

What themes, messages or ideas do you communicate through your designs and concepts? What is important to you as a maker?

My projects at LCF challenged a lot of my own perspectives with Covid, the wish of escapism and the realisation and self-acceptance in new environments and situations. Starting with these abstract concepts gave me the freedom to fully create something new, referencing works from a broad spectrum of experiences, and pieces which inspire me in the moment. Colour is also a big focus – the sentimentality of it and its contrast – which my projects explored.

Another important project for me was the collaboration with Lucy Orta, which focused on Traces. For me, this meant opening new portals to my family, especially my grandmother, and discovering her past when she ran away from the red army back when she was still a child. However, this trauma left traces until now, like rheumatism. This sentimental project symbolises my use of knit – emotions and craft, always staying true to myself and learning from my mistakes.

I am a maker, and I am like a child looking at my surroundings and always learning more, pushing my skills and finding my path in the industry.

What challenges do you face in your creative work and how do you tackle them?

I think sometimes you can lose yourself in your own work – drifting away with new research, more exciting ideas or being frustrated when a technique which you spent a lot of time on doesn’t work. In the end, it is the time which is of the essence, and the only way I’ve found to tackle my challenges is through sometimes being strict and not thinking too much about things. I’m not saying that I always go to bed at 10PM and have a strict life structure, because art is all about living in the moment, but it is also about stepping back, looking at the work constructively and then deciding quickly. It took me a while to learn this and sometimes I still get lost, but I think it happens to everyone at some point in their design process. Maybe by saying this, you realise you’re not alone.

black and white photo of model in knitwear design
Photographer: Alex Johnson, Model: Bakhita Alual | Florian Eisele | BA (Hons) Fashion Textiles: Knit
More congratulations for your newly appointed role of Knitwear Product Developer at Burberry. Could you tell us about the position?

I’m learning a lot of new things by being in a big company with a lot of structures. The team is so great, and I am so proud to be a part of the first collection of Daniel Lee at Burberry. My responsibilities cover, most importantly, helping make sure everything is delivered on time and assisting the team. A lot of people are working together, and it's only through teamwork that the unachievable becomes achievable. Having an overview of everything is important: working globally, communicating with manufacturers in Italy, sourcing materials, translating the designs from the Design Team into execution and working with other teams together, preparing meetings by presenting the different ranges from yarns, samples and garments and listening to the design team about any changes made in fittings.

Why did you choose to study BA (Hons) Fashion Textiles: Knit at LCF?

Before I came to LCF, I did my A-Levels at the International School of the Creative Arts (ISCA), where I had a once-a-week course at Central Saint Martins. This gave me a great insight into UAL and with my Summer School at UAL the year before, my decision was already made to go to UAL. During my A-Levels, I already discovered my curiosity for knit and after I attended my interview with Michaela at LCF, where she gave me a tour around the campus and I saw the facilities, I was convinced this was the right place for me.

You only realise how precious the community at UAL is once you start studying at one of the colleges. Being in halls with students from different colleges and exploring London together, the endless possibility of collaborations with every creative field and being around likeminded people presents you with friendships for a lifetime.

Now looking back at the knowledge I gained from the great technicians I had in my workshops, the insights I got into the industry and the issues with it, how LCF taught us to be the future of designers – I can only say I wouldn’t have wanted it any different.

In what ways did the course help you to hone your craft?

In a lot of things: getting connections from my tutors and peers about internships, which pushed me to work at an industry level. The creativity challenged in different projects to explore, refine and find my design identity, preparing me with a portfolio, and exposing me to competitions, awards and exhibition like Premier Vison and New Designers.

We love seeing UAL students collaborate across courses and areas of expertise. You recently worked with CSM graduate Joao Machado on their project ‘Heartbreak’. Could you tell us about the collaboration? What did you enjoy about it and what did you learn from the experience?

The project was about Joao’s breakup with his boyfriend and him capturing his love in his collection. This meant a lot to me as I could relate to his expression of love, emotion and sentimentality. It was important to me to be a part of his expression of love and the expression of queerness, which resonates a lot in my work as well – even though our works are completely different. I was challenged to work to a different brief and listen to another designer’s identity, capturing it in my work and knowledge of knit.

three pairs of knitted socks
Florian Eisele | BA (Hons) Fashion Textiles: Knit

This project showed me how to independently work in new topics, and I always love looking back at the collection and seeing how everything just came together at the runway. I was completely responsible for the design and research for the socks. I worked with his inspiration and with yarns to develop stitch techniques and pattern explorations. The real challenge here was to create socks on a flatbed machine, which involved shaping the heel and adapting to the foot movement. Through my experience with ballet and different craft techniques, I developed three different designs – capturing structure, drape and love in his set colour palette. Also, working to his brief gave me complete clarity so I didn’t overthink ideas. The project was fast paced and took only six weeks from brief to show. This set a new goal for my own FMP project which followed afterwards.

What do you feel has been most valuable throughout your time at LCF?

I would say the environment. Even though Covid brought challenges and distance, it prepared me to think outside of the box, always being ready for the unexpectable and staying connected no matter in what situation we are in. I got a lot of great friendships and precious connections to my tutors from this course, and my time at UAL, which I carry forward and I can only say thank you for that.