While knitwear isn’t always the obvious route to go down for budding fashion designers, Alicia Robinson, or AGRKNIT as per her Instagram handle, has found her niche in the craft – slowly but surely earning herself a reputable name in the highly-competitive industry.
From studying at UAL to creating custom pieces for the likes of A-Cold-Wall and Nike, Alicia’s penchant for creating intricately embroidered custom sweaters has only improved throughout the course of her journey.
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Just several years ago, the designer was juggling several bar-jobs alongside interning for free and working as a guest-list girl for industry events. It’s a life that’s all too familiar for those aspiring to work in fashion, with the dream of that glamorous and successful career that was promised seeming near impossible.
While it’s not easy, stories like Alicia’s prove that it is in fact possible – it just takes a hell of a lot of hard work. While working nearly 24/7, the designer’s handiwork first found it’s way into the limelight during James Long’s London Collections Men show back in 2015. The unique and innovative bubble-knit sweaters she had designed especially for the catwalk while interning there turned out to be the key-pieces from the show, giving her her first ever big break.
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My face in the @eveningstandardmagazine today. 2019 is turning out alllllrighhhht ya nahhhh. Literally broke my back for brexit. 3 jumpers in three days, close ups soon come. Don’t watch my face in this photo either or my hair cut, I hadn’t slept and needed a trim 😂 Shout out to my mum on the crochet stars ⭐️ and of course @jessicaskeetecross @dee_acharya @antongottlob and al the team! Much love and GENUINELY BREXIT IS A FUCKERY AND I WANNA BE IN THE EU!
From here on, Alicia embarked on the start of her journey as a freelance designer. From James Long she moved onto working with fellow London-based designer Helen Lawrence, where she eventually got picked up by Kanye West’s namesake label YEEZY. She worked for the brand for nearly two years, producing bespoke knitted garments that were seen during the house’s SEASON 4 and SEASON 5 presentations. During her time at YEEZY, Alicia told us she had the pleasure of travelling Europe with the label’s production team, and was even set to work side-by-side with Mr. West himself in Calabasas, however she was unfortunately deported from LA just before due to visa issues.
Alicia decided to part ways with the brand shortly after, deciding instead to focus on her very own label that was set to become AGR. She started out creating one-off custom garments for VIP customers and friends, but soon found she was inundated with requests as word of her work continued to spread via social media. She cites an important moment in her career as the run-up to Notting Hill Carnival 2018. Nearly all her friends were requesting custom outfits for the occasion, where vibrant and colourful get-up is the standard attire, so she made the decision to turn it into her first ever capsule collection as such. While she was working on the 15 bespoke outfits she pitched the idea to Nike in an attempt to collaborate with the legendary Oregon-based brand, and without avail a week later she had 30 pairs of sneakers turn up on her doorstep.
The collection was a huge success, with Alicia’s friends capturing the day via 35mm film cameras. She states her Instagram account blew up virtually overnight, with industry figures and the general public alike flooding her message requests with compliments and work offers.
Since then, the designer has created many more one-off showpieces and special edition collaborations that have attracted just as much attention. 2019 saw her create three one-of-a-kind sweaters for the cover of Evening Standard magazine, team up with Nike again to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Tn, and also join forces with the likes of Wavey Garms and Ryan Hawaii.
Alicia states that all these essential moments were all contributing factors to her eventually launching AGR as an official brand. The label was instantly spearheaded by an exclusive capsule that launched in collaboration with Canadian high-fashion retailer SSENSE. The collection spanned across both menswear and womenswear, showcasing the designer’s signature colour-blocking throughout. It was received with mainstream commercial success, with influencers and celebrities alike seen wearing garments from the capsule leading to the eventual sell-out.
With AGR in full-swing, 2020 will see the label expand to more stockists, including both menswear and womenswear at prestigious London-based boutique Browns. Through eternal hard-graft and constantly pushing boundaries, Alicia has made all that she’s enjoying now entirely by herself. She states “I still love seeing people wearing my clothes. I’m in shock when I see how happy they look in my colourful bits. It’s so mad and I love it!”.