Valentina Karellas 

Sustainable knitwear designer Valentina Karellas took over The Crossing for a pop-up residency just before the recent lockdown. Valentina describes her brand as “an antidote to fast fashion”, producing hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind pieces using surplus yarn from large UK factories that would otherwise have gone to waste. The result: each item is a lifelong-lasting, entirely unique London original.

Valentina took some time out to talk to us about her business and her experience at The Crossing.

What inspired you to start designing knitwear?

I have always been creative and interested in clothes. My mother was a dress maker, and I learned a lot of skills from her, however I wanted to carve my own path. I absolutely loved knitwear as a teenager and went on to study knitwear design and even did a masters in Italy. I wanted to hone my skills as a designer before starting my own brand, so I worked for a few years in Italy and China where I learnt the true cost of fast fashion. I knew that If I were to have my own brand, it must focus on zero waste and ethical production, which it does and continues to be so.

What sets your brand apart from others?

People really enjoy the fact that I create each piece to order and by hand, which in London, is very rare. The main aspect of uniqueness is the colours and use of varying shapes, I’m multi-product as well, offering a huge variety of knitted pieces that is rather unusual.

What is your current favourite Valentina Karellas piece?

Right now, I love the beanies, my cashmere ones in particular have been popular in store as they make great gifts. And I have just created a simple face mask that utilises my mitten samples in merino wool so it’s super soft on the face yet warm for the winter!

How has the pop-up residency at The Crossing benefitted Valentina Karellas?

It has been a great way to meet the locals and for them to meet me. More than ever it’s important to support local brands and artisans, and this way the customer gets to interact directly with the maker, when discussing custom orders and learning what is behind the brand.

Tell us some of your favourite things to do around West Brompton Crossing?

I must say, I really enjoy popping into the Hoarders next door, having a lovely chat with them while they prepare the coffee. They’re always so friendly, it feels like a hub for the local community. I will miss them when my residency is up. I also really enjoy Pedalback - I love their unique bike store and their toasties are delish too.

What's next for Valentina Karellas?

Well, I will be focusing on the brand and online sales, as there are so many uncertainties with Covid and physical retail. And I will be creating new knitted products… forever knitting!