Aspire To Inspire

STUDIO VISIT: JO ABELLERA OF KKIBO KNITWEAR

By now you all know that I have a fascination with:  (a.) handmade things  (b.) the 1970′s  (c.) textiles and textures. These are the things that grab my attention and inspire me when I’m out in the world and I’m learning that they all seem to have a profound connection on my personal aesthetic.

When I first saw Jo Abellera’s handmade knit pieces I was awestruck and mesmerized with her technique. I’ve had a fascination with textile art since the day my good friend Michael V showed me a picture in one of his many books of a work of fiber art that was hanging in a museum in the 1960′s.  I remember staring at the picture with my mouth wide open completely in shock with the amazingness of this type of art.  I knew it was special and felt that the timing of this medium would soon be on its way back into the cultural fold( I saw this picture 8 years ago).  Well I was right, and the past few years we’ve seen a re-birth in fiber art and a mega trend in regard to surface textures in design.

Jo’s knitwear brand, KKIBO, is in perfect alignment with this over-arching trend of ART TO WEAR, HANDMADE QUALITY, and LUXURY TEXTURE.  When I met Jo at the Echo Park Craft Fair in December, I asked if I could sit down in her studio and chat with her about her new line as well as her inspiration.

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Similar to her current collection for KKIBO, Jo’s studio is a soothing palette of neutrals and textures.

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KKIBO’s debut collection of handmade knitwear

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KKIBO is Japanese for “hope”

Jo comes from a background in textiles working on special projects for DOSA  as well as studying design at Parsons in NYC.  Knitting was a hobby that she learned in school that she shelved for several years until inspiration struck after the birth of her daughter, Margeaux.

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Designer Jo and daughter Margeaux

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Pictures from her home studio

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A neutral palette fills her studio and home creating a very peaceful vibe

About a year ago she got inspired by the work of mythologist, Joseph Campbell and his studies on the evolution of myth through society and cultures.  Pictures of aboriginal tribes and their native dress inspired her to pick up her knitting needles and start on a new project that soon became her debut collection for her knitwear line called KKIBO which translates to “hope” in Japanese.

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Pictures from Joseph Campbell’s book that inspired Jo

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One of her first experiments in creating knitted texture

Her work is a very unique take on fiber art and knitwear and I haven’t seen anything like it out in the market.  I see lots of people trying to knock off the idea of TEXTURE, but nobody is creating texture like Jo is.  I mean, these pieces are beyond special.

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One of my favorites from the collection

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More moments in the interior of the studio

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Beautiful melange of yarns in this piece.

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Where it all starts

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The beginning stages of a piece

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Knit experimentation

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Her warehouse of natural yarns

Jo uses only natural baby alpaca, alpaca and sheeps wool in all of her pieces.  She has started to work with a cooperative in Bolivia that will be helping her production needs while still keeping the approach of her project on a conscious level.  Her pieces can take up to 3 days to create and are all hand done with love and care.  Prices range from $280-$600 which is quite reasonable for this type of garment.

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Front side view of cardigan

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Backside view

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Shapes and textures all around

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Almost feels like an expensive shag rug on your back!

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Look at the texture!!

Jo is starting out slow and steady and is currently featured in a handful of great stores including Dream Collective, Platform and The General Store.  She has already branched out into Childrenswear and has plans to expand her ideas further as she develops the KKIBO brand.  Although what you see here is in a neutral palette, experimentation with hand dying and color is her current mood.

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For spring she combined vintage African waxed fabrics with her knitting technique.

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I mean really…what is cuter than a little tot in this sweater?

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Soft and sweet

If this is just the beginning for Jo, I am thrilled to see what she does in the coming seasons as her perspective grows and her following increases.  To see what she is up to you can follow her on Facebook and Instagram @joabellera.  Below are some beautiful photos of her lookbook shot by Martin Rusch featuring shoes by Beatrice Valenzuela, Jewelry by Kathleen Whitaker and See Real Flowers.

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1,711 Comments

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