In Conversation with Joerg Hartmann, Fashion & Technology at Stoll

Joerg Hartmann, Head of Fashion & Technology, Stoll. © Stoll

Stoll, Germany’s leading flat knitting machine manufacturer, concluded its first Stoll Symposium at its New York City facility last Thursday, in honour of its 145th anniversary. The event was a means to give back to the key industry players that utilise Stoll’s machinery and services, as well as to educate designers and brands alike on the various knitting solutions and techniques available through working with Stoll.

The event featured seven key sessions that provided an in-depth comprehension of Stoll ADF & CMS techniques, Stoll-artwork, Stoll-autocreate, Stoll-knit and wear, yarn experience and usage, and technical textiles at Stoll.

Head of Fashion & Technology Joerg Hartmann hosted an evening reception with Stoll’s CEO Andreas Schellhammer and presented Stoll’s impact on product creation and fashion throughout the years. Knitting Industry spoke to Joerg Hartmann about the benefits of Stoll’s ADF flat knitting technology, the company’s new knitelligence software solution Stoll-artwork and Stoll Trend Collections.

As a knitwear designer, what do you see as the main advantages of Stoll’s ADF flat knitting technology? Can you give us a couple of examples of how the technology has been used by designers to create outstanding work and unique work?

Joerg Hartmann: In the field of active sportswear, ADF has innovated pattern and garment construction with extended features like plating and pre-shaping. In addition, the technology tackles moisture internal management proficiently. Inlaying, Stoll-weave-in, and selective plating are features that can lock and stretch the fabric selectively where needed.

Another hot field of ADF applications is within the smart textiles realm for which you can run conductive wires throughout the fabric without being visible on the outer layer. Such imbedded functions can be used for passive and active thermal management. Stoll has made patents on fully-functional knitted electronic cycles that are ready-to-use once knitted off the machines. For high-end fashion brands, ADF represents technology which allows for complex material combinations within the same garment – through artwork and material.

Digital Knits Trend Collection from Stoll. © Stoll

The machine advancement that comes with ADF, and its corresponding software, allows for a feeling of complete freedom for the designer as the technology has become incredibly user-friendly. This holds most true for designs incorporating intarsia.

How important is Stoll-artwork for knitwear designers? Since the recent launch have you had much interest or uptake from designers?

JH: Stoll-artwork is a tool that allows for the complete aesthetic output for which the designer can feel assured that what he or she designs will knit right off the machine. It also shortens lead times because there are less iteration cycles between manufacturing and design.

Furthermore, new digital tools enable new ways of expression and innovation that allows for the creation of future aesthetics, technologies, and design as we know it today. The designer feels empowered by not having to stress as much on the “technical” component of design. This tool disrupts the traditional “copy and paste” design routine that many brands fall into.

Colleges and universities are the pioneers of this tool, which is quite fascinating to us. They utilise Stoll-artwork in training sessions. This makes us inclined to believe that the next generation of designers will be showing the world techniques and trends that have never been seen before.

Digital Knits Trend Collection from Stoll. © Stoll

Traditionally, knitwear design has been very ‘hands-on’ and about the ‘craft’ as well as the technology. Many young designers come from a background of hand flat knitting or even hand knitting – what is your experience of how designers are adapting to and adopting digital design processes in knitwear. How do you reconcile craft and digital?

JH: Without a sound understanding of knitwear technology, a designer would not achieve anything beyond the standard designs you see today. When you want to “push the limits,” you must understand knitwear technology. More and more young designers are less hesitant to learn in-depth knitting technology. This has changed over generations, and attributes to the “Digital” generation. The digital creation process, designing artworks in Photoshop, is craftsmanship. Complex design can take as long on the computer as a painting on a canvas.

Your seasonal Stoll Trend Collections are well-known internationally. How popular are they with customers and designers? Do they purchase your designs and use them as they are, or are they used as influential start-points for further development?

JH: Thank you. Stoll designs by the motto, “design to inspire”. In other words, please copy! Most of brands and designers create their own products for their own target demographics and brand DNAs.

The pieces showcased in Stoll’s trend collections are based on the fundamentals, or the “building blocks,” that designers can use as inspirational references. Sometimes, we see big similarities on products sold on POS and our own developments – we find this very rewarding.

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