Crochet dressing as popularised by Harry Styles in JW Anderson: How to wear it and the brands to know

Crochet dressing as popularised by Harry Styles in JW Anderson: How to wear it and the brands to know

Knit it up

Text: Emma Firth

Crochet enthusiasts are flexing their muscles on TikTok. It's all thanks to Harry Styles, apparently. For those who've taken a brief internet hiatus, a refresher: the singer wore JW Anderson's colour-block cardigan, and a viral trend — which saw thousands flock to the video sharing platform to post DIY versions of the £1,250 garment — was born.

I have very little patience for such a time-stealing activity, but some of them are impressively good replicas. So good, in fact, that the Irish designer has now shared a detailed sewing pattern on his website ("I am so impressed and incredibly humbled by this trend and everyone knitting the cardigan," Anderson wrote. "I really wanted to show our appreciation, so we are sharing the pattern with everyone. Keep it up!")

Herein lies the beauty of crochet. Its artisanal, homespun charm. Be it an heirloom bedspread. A baby beanie. Or, a multi-coloured mini dress a la Heather Graham in Austin Powers (the vintage costume designs save what is, famously, a pretty mediocre film). It's one of the most timeless and transporting of textiles.

Even if you have a complicated relationship with the 'summer wardrobe' (really — who doesn't?) — which now hangs almost mockingly in your wardrobe — crochet conjures up a warm, nostalgic feeling. Of care-free, running through fields, daisies in artfully tousled hair, bygone summers.

Crochet dressing

"I've always had a soft spot for crochet," says Holly Tenser, Womenswear Buying Manager at Browns Fashion. "We have few brands at Browns who really dominate this technique in our resort wear offering, She Made Me is one of my favourites. They not only have fun vintage inspired bikinis they also have flirty dresses in beautiful soft tonal colour palettes." When it comes to brands that have been championing the look consistently each season, "you can't look past Missoni for incredible chic and luxury crochet kaftans in their iconic zigzag pattern."

Crochet novices take heed. Holly recommends starting with the She Made Me Indra crochet crop top. "It's easy to wear both on the beach and in the city, as it's not too sheer," she says. "You can also easily pair it back with jeans or shorts, if you're not quite ready for the head-to-toe crochet look."

Crochet dressing

Summer dressing is notoriously difficult; it can feel like a 'dressing down', or like there's less room for experimentation, as layering becomes obsolete. But the crochet dress is the perfect harmony of easy-going and elegant. (Or, as many a fashion critic love to tag the look: gypset. Roughly translated, as the marriage of bourgeoisie jet-set style with an air of Janis Joplin-esque, Woodstock-era charm).

On that note, meet Cro-Che. The London-based brand launched just two months ago, during the Lost Days Of Lockdown, and each dress is handmade, and waste-free ("there are no off cuts"). Founder, Tacita Brown, explains that, unlike a lot of resort wear crochet, where the stitch is "too loose and see through", you don't need to wear a slip, or even a bra underneath to wear the colourful, vintage-inspired designs.

"Our first collection was inspired by the swinging sixties [each dress is named after a Motown song: Baby Love, Jimmy Mack, Love Hangover]," Tacita says. "Music has always been incredibly important to me, and will always be a continuous theme and inspiration for Cro-Che.

"Our first collection is called 'Sally Go Round the Roses,'" she continues. "[Which is the title of] an amazing 1963 song by girl band The Maynettes. It's been said that Andy Warhol only ever listened to this song in his studio."

Crochet dressing

Crochet is a timeless fabric, but modern shapes and styles can update it to make it feel more relevant. "My Beachy Side is label based in Turkey which works with refugee women to hand weave its signature knitted dresses and brightly-coloured crochet pieces," says Chelsea Power, Senior Buyer at MatchesFashion.

Elsewhere, ESCVDO creates contemporary dresses and separates which are handmade by local Peruvian artists using traditional weaving, knitting and embroidery techniques to support the brand's commitment to ethics and sustainability ("their matching crochet crop top and skirt are a great option for someone who is looking for a modern update on the maxi dress"). And the open weave knit of the two-piece is "ideal for keeping you cool when making the most of this warmer weather." For a summer garden party statement, Chelsea suggests Zimmermann's bold sunflower yellow mini-dress, woven in a playful palm tree crochet.

Made a mid-year pledge to find pre-loved alternatives for the majority of your retail whims? This forever trend is blissfully easy to source vintage.

Alice Hebrard, Head of Vintage at Vestaire Collective, says; "the unbranded classic vintage crochet pieces are very popular — the combination of colourful knits and hippie styling create a playful 70s aesthetic that our community is interested in this summer." You can shop their new crochet edit here.

For more affordable second-hand offerings — take a deep dive into Etsy, eBay, and good old-fashioned charity shops. A more conscious way to consume, yes, but also there's nothing quite like the serotonin hit of finding a one-of-a-kind outfit for the price of a Pret lunch (remember those?).

"Crochet is so versatile," Tacita says. "You can wear trainers, boots [or] wedges. You can wear our dresses for a picnic, trip to the supermarket, to work, or a BBQ. They're designed to suit any occasion."

Add to that list, impromptu getaway style. Minus the getaway. Since travelling anywhere exotic is almost certainly off the cards this summer, it is all the more reason to inject fresh zeal into your stay-at-home holiday wear; staples which do not inflict a state of prolonged FOMO at the mere sight of them. And really, who says the great escape can't be found in your closet?

This story was first published on Buro. London.