Australian Label St Cloud Makes Retro Knitwear for Every Season

Written for Broadsheet

Sharon Taylor is an advocate for wearing knitwear in any climate, all year round. Whether it’s a long lunch in winter or balmy rooftop drinks in summer, a knit is your friend. That’s why she launched her own all-seasons knitwear label, St Cloud, in Melbourne last year.

“Our knit dresses are very versatile and are designed for day wear with sneakers, or dressed up with a heel,” Taylor says. “We then go into fine-knit tops for layering, as well as statement cardis and coats for comfort dressing.”

Inspiration for each St Cloud collection comes from yarn and colour trends identified by the label’s yarn mills in Florence, Italy. Other materials and fabrics are sourced from Asia, and St Cloud’s production is based in China.

The label’s signature viscose-nylon blend is used for its stretch-knit crepe pieces, while silk-cotton blends and merino are used for the fine knits. Soft alpaca and mohair blends come into play in the winter collections.

Before launching St Cloud, Taylor worked in Country Road’s knitwear department as a product development assistant. During her seven years at the company, from 1990 to 1997, she learned about the trade under the former head of product development for Ralph Lauren in New York, who’d been poached by Country Road founder Stephen Bennett. “The hours were brutal, but I loved every minute of it,” she recalls.

After Country Road, Taylor established her own sourcing and development business, Sourcing Studio, which helped Australia designers sample and manufacture their knitwear drawing on Taylor’s technical expertise and contacts in China and Italy. Sourcing Studio worked with a number of brands over the years, from emerging designers to national retailers such as Gorman, Witchery, Country Road, Portmans and Just Jeans.

In 2018, Taylor closed that business and launched St Cloud in her Cremorne, Melbourne design studio.

“I was approached by a European fashion distributor who saw a gap in the market for interesting knitwear [that focused on] colour and texture,” she says. “It didn’t take long for me to jump on board – after more than a decade of producing knitwear for other brands, I was excited to be able to put my own stamp on something.”

The label’s spring-summer 2019 collection has just dropped. Inspired by ’70s Palm Springs, it includes short-sleeve polos, knit polo dresses and other fresh takes on retro styles. The Rhodes Rib Knit Polo is made from a lightweight viscose nylon-blend, knitted in a wide rib and features a collared neckline with gold buttons. It’s available in a range of colours including khaki, pink, mandarin, tan, black and white. Style it with denim (or a skirt) and sneakers.

The sporty Rib Knit Polo Dress, with its bold accent stripes, is a contemporary take on a retro summer tennis dress. Dress it up with strappy, barely-there heels or down with sneakers or slides.

Prices range from $149 to $449.

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