Fair Fashion

Isobel and Cleo: Next Level Knits Born in Nantucket, Made by Hand

The Charleston tuck striped fringe poncho, knit with merino, silk, bamboo, recycled jersey, paper, and lambswool yarns.

Focusing on creative shapes and an unexpected use of crochet, the designer behind isobel and cleo proves that knitwear can be totally badass.

Perusing the pieces above and below, you’ll not be surprised to hear that Charlotte Hess is motivated by the ideals behind Slow Fashion (she describes herself on isobel and cleo’s Facebook page as a “knitter who strives to continue the tradition of hand knitting, a skill that is slowly dying out due to a disposable culture and cheap labor.”)

The taylor cropped knit tank. knit with various yarns sourced in australia. the isabella sweetheart jumpsuit. made with silk and cotton fabric handwoven by cara deheart of seaweaver.

The good news is that it’s ideas like this that are being recognized by fashion influencers; she won the Emerging Designers Competition at Charleston Fashion Week in 2011.

Handmade on Nantucket Island, Charlotte’s inspiration for her first post-win project comes from an unusual source — an overture from the soundtrack to the movie The Shawshank Redemption. “I really feel I could design an entire collection based on that whole song,” she told elle.com.

The silk crochet flower gown. handstitched with over over 200 hand crocheted rosettes created from a luxury 2 ply tussah silk yarn.

isobel and cleo began with a desire to perpetuate the endangered ideas of true elegance and long lasting luxury in bespoke hand made garments. We wish to preserve the intimacy, tradition, and quality that is the essence of a hand knitted garment.

To have some of these gorgeous knits for yourself, check out the Isobel and Cleo Etsy Shop.

The Betsy shrug. Handwoven with 100% wool roving from a local Nantucket Island farmer. The 2 pocket ulia jersey dress, made with a cotton blend knit jersey fabric.

The Klaus chunky knit halter dress. hand knit with 100% merino wool. the tina circle skirt. knit with 100% soft linen yarn.

The Anastasia apron dress. made with tea dyed cotton cheesecloth and japanese silk and american cotton fabric handwoven by cara deheart of seaweaver.

The ruthie crochet flower dress. made with hemp hand crochet flowers and silk and cotton fabric hand woven by cara deheart of seaweaver. the blount paper fisherman hat. hand crocheted with 100% paper yarn.

Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of Eco-Chick.com and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life. She's also a freelance science and environment writer who has published in National Geographic, CNN, Scientific American, Mental Floss, Pacific Standard, the NRDC, and many more. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her partner and black cat. She was a geologist in her first career, and still picks up rocks wherever she goes.