23-year-old Ohio Native Lindsay Degen’s eponymous knitwear line is full of cheeky details, from anatomically-themed tank tops (patterned with decorative breasts and nipples) to cutouts on briefs putting backsides on display. Thankfully, for those of us who aren’t quite ready to show off our underwear, her multicolored, multi-textured, whimsical aesthetic will be translated into a line of sweaters for Fall/Winter 2012. Here, the Rhode Island School of Design graduate bares all, like her dream clients, to her distaste for matching socks.
BULLETT: How does your background as a fine arts student at RISD influence the way you design?
LINDAY DEGEN: I seem to like actually making things more than other designers. I therefore don’t really consider myself a designer because I don’t sit down and design, I make and react to the piece as I make it.
At RISD you were part of a performance group called Knitting Nation. What did you perform?
Knitting Nation is a performance group by artist and fellow knitter (and my knitting professor at RISD), Liz Collins. This project has had numerous iterations over the years, but most recently, Knitting Nation is part of a show at the ICA in Boston. We performed an endurance knitting challenge where we knitted a massive red pile for seven hours straight. I knitted 20 kilos of cotton! Being a part of this wonderful group has helped my knitwear line not just be a knitwear line. DEGEN is more of a knitting-based project, part of which is a knitwear line, the other part being fine art-, collaboration-, and performance-based.
Any plans to branch out in the future and make a line of sweaters?
Fall/Winter 2012 will be the first season of ready-to-wear sweaters and pants, bras, shirts, and coats. I also plan to launch LD (Little Degen) in the upcoming spring.
Your socks are all sold as singles—why the aversion to matching socks?
Its just not practical and the more texture in an outfit the better for me. There is no difference in a right foot sock and a left foot sock (unlike some gloves) so there is no need to have a matching part.
Who would you love to see in your designs?
Patti Smith. And my mom—but that would never happen
Which artists do you most look up to?
Who is your dream collaboration?
How would you describe your personal style?
My best friend Zandy would describe me as “picky” concerning clothing. I like very simple shapes with beautiful fabrics and hand work. I definitely wear my own work and pair it with designers like Gary Graham. It’s nice to have a piece of his paired with one of mine, even if it’s just on me.
What’s the most intricate piece you’ve knitted? How long did it take you?
I think I just completed it actually. The only way I can describe the amount of time is so long. Pieces take me a full week of 12-hour days sometimes.
There is clearly an element of humor to your work. Do you find it important to not take yourself or your designs too seriously?
There is caring, and then there is taking yourself too seriously. A huge amount of care goes into everything that I do, but I also like goofing off and laughing. My line is a version of me goofing off.
When you’re not knitting, how do you spend your free time?
My roommate and I are trying this new thing called cooking. I made chili and cornbread yesterday and was so proud! Dancing is also great. There is technically no free time though because everything is Degen when your name is Lindsay Degen.
What are some of your favorite spots in New York to unwind?
My roommate’s closet. Gary Graham. Creatures of Comfort. Trash and Vaudeville. Assembly New York. One summer I ate at Frank on 2nd Avenue almost every day, but remember I’m trying this new thing called cooking. I also like karaoke.
What are the key inspirations for your line?
For the line in general, the body. This upcoming season is all about the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, things that are politically interesting to me.
photographer James Orlando
stylist Evren Catlin
makeup Natasha Smee, The Wall Group
hair Takeo Suzuki
models Celestine, Elite; Kelly, DNA; and Pauline, Marilyn Models