GS Journal

The Story behind the Founder

Genevieve Sweeney creates no ordinary knitwear. Using unique yarns and innovative colour blends, the brand fuses contemporary design with traditional techniques that results in a luxurious, high quality finish. The label will begin with a collection for both menswear and womenswear; bringing together an exciting collaboration of silhouettes and key seasonal pieces that firmly establish the label as a key player in the premium knitwear market.

Founder and designer of her eponymous brand, Genevieve Sweeney, explains how her passion for knitting began when her Grandparents taught her to knit as a child.

“When I was five my family lived in Belgium and we spent a lot of time in the car. My Nan taught me to knit to keep me entertained during the long journeys. That’s where it started really. I’d knit and unravel continuously with the same yarn and needles until I created something that I wanted to keep.”

As a self confessed ‘closet knitter’ for well over a decade, it wasn’t until Genevieve was sixteen that she discovered that knitting was something that she could make a career out of. A few years later, she was accepted at Nottingham Trent University and graduated in Fashion, Knitting and Textiles with a First Class Honours. During her degree, Genevieve spent a year on industry placements gaining valuable experience working with big names such as Marks & Spencer, New Look and Sophie Steller. Her final graduate men’s collection was so impressive, she was sponsored by a yarn mill in Hong Kong, Novetex and invited to show at Spin Expo, the yarn trade show in Shanghai.

Genevieve Sweeney Graduate Collection Nottingham Trent University

It was at her show in Shanghai that Genevieve’s talents first caught the eye of Hugo Boss, but until they headhunted her a few years later, she spent some time freelancing with a number of luxury design houses, then moved to New York as a Knitwear Assistant for the renowned brand, Rag and Bone. A company she describes as ‘insanely creative’. Before long, Hugo Boss found a role for Genevieve as a Creative Knitwear Developer for their Sports Collection, Boss Green, which took her from New York to Lake Como.

“This is where I learned how to program the knitting machines and more about innovative knitting processes such as 3D Shima Simulation. Hugo Boss are very forward thinking with their knitwear collections, so it was great opportunity to be there and learn how to fully translate a sketch into a final product.”

The move to Italy was where she really began to understand the importance of building relationships with yarn mills and suppliers. Some of the mills she worked with during her time there are so supportive of her new venture that she continues to work with them today.

Returning to London, she worked on a children’s collection for Burberry before settling in to her role at Lyle and Scott, where she has been there ever since. With an impressive CV and masses of experience, she is now enjoying being able to inject this in to her own business, which has always been her goal since leaving university.

“I realised I had no tangible experience in running a fashion business straight out of university. I needed to learn how to go from sketch to production therefore every job I’ve ever taken was quite strategic in order to specifically gain the necessary experience to get to where I am today.”

It is clear that the hard work and international exposure is certainly paying off. Not only is the collection absolutely beautiful, but also the techniques that Genevieve has used and the relationships she has built with her suppliers, ensure that the pieces aren’t just sophisticated items of clothing. Each has its own individual narrative and that’s something Genevieve is really proud of.

Every Genevieve Sweeney customer will have exclusive insight into the story behind their products. They can learn where the product was made, what materials were used in its construction and the purchasing environment. Shopping at Genevieve Sweeney is much more than simply buying online, she wants her customers to have a unique experience.

Aside from the luxury fibres sourced from Italy, Genevieve is determined to ensure that her brand is authentically British, showcasing the artisian skills and quality of the knitwear industry in the UK. Establishing herself as an advocate for small local mills that specialise in custom yarn blends and keeping her production within the British Isles, demonstrates her commitment to sustainability as well as embracing the ethical practices and responsibilities of a premium British brand.

“Finding suppliers to do the production has been the biggest challenge, especially keeping it in Britain. Not many have the capacity to work with start up quantities, but I’ve made some great working relationships and wasn’t prepared to compromise.”

Genevieve isn’t leaving all the knitting up to the manufacturers, she also finds time to source and fully restore rare antique knitting machines back to working order. Some that she has devotedly brought back to life haven’t been used in over fifty years. These machines have allowed her to experiment with stitching and techniques, which has all influenced the brand’s overall essence of combining slick new designs with traditional hand crafted techniques.

Genevieve Sweeney promises to make a significant and exciting impact on the knitwear market and she wants to share her passion with her customers, illustrating the limitless potential of knitwear.

“I want to show people that knitwear is more than just a jumper. There is so much more that you can do. It’s actually incredibly exciting and the possibilities are endless.”

Discover the GS Collection HERE.

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