It’s not unusual for celebrities to look for ways of cutting corners when they launch a fashion label. Kim Kardashian’s ill-fated “Kardashian Kollection” was accused of using child labour. Ivanka Trump’s was suspected of copying another designer’s work. But this week Tom Daley, surely takes the entrepreneurial biscuit: he has designed some garments, but rather than go to the trouble of having them completed, he’s cutting out the middleman and leaving the manufacturing process to the customer. Lord Sugar, take note: this lad has ideas.
“I love this new collection and I love summer, being outdoors with my family and friends, going on holiday, having a barbecue on my rooftop,” Daley said in a statement, introducing a nine-piece collection, “Summer With Love”, which is so seasonally appropriate, it’s not just being launched a week after midsummer has passed, but is comprised solely of woollen goods. Literally. Just yarn for days.
“This collection for me sums up that feeling and contains pieces you can create that can be part of your summer memories,” Daley, 28, continues. Those recollections would presumably be summarised as: “That time when there simply wasn’t enough heat rash cream in the world… But at least my arms were cool.”
As well as a professional plunge-taker, Daley is also one of a growing number of celebrity “knitfluencers”, spotted manipulating his yarn in the stands at the Tokyo Olympics last year, where he created an elaborate Team GB-themed cardigan and dog jumper.
The coverage led to a surge in popularity for the hobby, which a million people took up over lockdown. And now Daley is making hay, or at least loads of sweaters, with a clothing line, Made With Love. He sells crochet, homeware, kidsware, dog jumpers and a Pride collection, and has 1.3 million followers on his knitting Instagram page.
“The one thing that has kept me sane throughout this whole process is my love for knitting and crochet and all things stitching,” Daley said in an Instagram video after the Olympics, where he won a gold medal. He then showed an adorable pouch he’d made.
“This morning I made a little ‘cozy’ for my medal to stop it from getting scratched. It slots in like this and I’ve got [a] Union Jack on the side, and [a] Japanese flag on the other.”
The new summer range has pastel-coloured crochet and knit vests (£65). It has knit-kit cardigans (£95); blankets for babies (£79) and bigger babies (£120). And for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, macramé wall hangings (£35) and plant hangers (£29), because if you’re wearing a knitted vest in July, you might as well match with your dracaena.
Daley is “obsessed with the vests”, which he models by wearing nothing underneath them – a look that’s not uncommon in fashion circles (Harry Styles embraced it a year ago, now ASOS has knock-off £30 versions), but still looks a little like Frank Spencer’s grabbed anything to answer the door in the middle of the night. In fact, everything in the collection, we’re told, is “something Tom would make and wear himself”.
The idea is laudable, of course. Knitting’s popularity in recent years has been partly down to fashion, boredom, and just to save money or the planet. Rather than another celebrity-endorsed bit of cheaply made fast fashion, Daley has offered something different for the consumer. Chiefly in that his range isn’t quite made at all.
The first slew of Daley’s kits sold out almost instantly last year, but his idea might just prompt a worrying trend among the celebrity class. Coming next: Phillip Schofield’s vintner kits (just grapes, yeast and a bit of sulphur dioxide) and Victoria Beckham Basics (a strip of black cloth with a pair of scissors). Oh Tom, what have you started?