Not Your Traditional Knitter: Meet Mens Knitwear Designer Kevin Kramp

If you thought you’d seen all possible permutations of knitwear for men, let me introduce you to something completely different.

Kevin Kramp and I first talked several months ago when I interviewed him for an article in our university’s alumni magazine. I was immediately struck by his idiosyncratic creativity. In fact, the lede in my article quoted Kevin’s design mantra; “I think my work is stunning, and I want you to be stunned.”

Looking through images of his menswear designs prior to our interview, I understood in an entirely fresh way what people mean when they talk about artistic vision.

Not because I can actually imagine a “regular guy” wearing one of Kevin’s creations, but because he has an emphatic, highly original perspective on knitwear and menswear. His work is uncompromisingly true to this concept, despite published comparisons of his work to “Snuggies for men,” and other unflattering descriptions.

Kevin’s designs have won numerous awards in the world of high fashion, where his knitwear is assumed to have evolved from the work of avant-garde fashion designers such as Rei Kawakubo, Issey Miyaki, and Comme des Garcons.

He rejects these comparisons, however, arguing that existing fashion is, instead, anti-inspiring in the creation of new fashion.

You may not like what you see, but I’ll bet it gets a reaction out of you because you’ve never seen anything like it before (oh, wait a minute, of course you have: think about ghetto kids with their jeans riding so low on their hips that their boxers are entirely exposed; think about oversized sweaters that make some of us feel – if not actually look – smaller).

If you appreciate nothing else about these images (Just for starters: luxe fabrics, texture in abundance, movement and drape), you must at least acknowledge the unique quality of the designs. 

Next month, Kevin’s work will be featured as part of a prestigious fashion design exhibition, Unravel: Knitwear in Fashion, at the  MoMu Mode Museum in Antwerp, Belgium. The exhibition will introduce visitors to knitted garments and accessories from across the last centuries, with a focus on high fashion pieces and their vernacular interpretations.

From the exhibition press release: “Top pieces by national and international designers and labels (Ann Salens, Vivienne Westwood, Sonia Rykiel, Versace, Missoni) historic couture pieces (Schiaparelli, Patou, Chanel) as well as more avant-garde and cutting edge pieces by established designers and newcomers on the international fashion scene (Sandra Backlund, Maison Martin Margiela, Comme des Garçons, Mark Fast, Kevin Kramp) will sit side by side to reveal the richness and diversity of knitwear in high fashion.”

Perhaps I should have stated at the outset that Kevin is not a hand knitter. He works on knitting machines that allow him to manipulate his luxury fibers, slowly creating sumptuous textured fabrics. A single swatch takes hours to develop (hand knitters can definitely appreciate that), and a prototype of a single garment can take him ten months to complete.

Although you won’t find Kevin on Ravelry, next time you find yourself in search of inspiration, a scroll through his site just might turn your knitting mojo upside down!

All images accompanying this post are courtesy of Kevin Kramp.

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  1. Thanks for this designer profile, Julie! I really enjoyed reading about Kevin and his amazing work. The vest in the second image is really interesting — it looks like big, knotted skeins of yarn. Cool!

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