Katya Zelentsova Is The Zero-Waste Designer Reinventing Knitwear For A New Generation

Daisy Murray
·2-min read
Photo credit: EA
Photo credit: EA

If your idea of knitting and crochet conjures images of prickly Aran jumpers and Nana’s clicking needles, then Katya Zelentsova will surprise you. Her seductive, cut-out, high-colour styles blow the dust off those crafty stereotypes.

The wry 26-year-old (‘Is now the time to start lying about my age?’ she jokes over the phone) creates provocative pieces that have captivated the fashion industry following her BA and MA in knitwear from Central Saint Martins.

‘I’m really thankful that people seem to like it,’ she laughs, aware of her designs’ unconventional appeal. The industry’s key players certainly do – including super-stylist and Simone Rocha collaborator Robbie Spencer, as well as musician Celeste.

Photo credit: Courtesy of brand
Photo credit: Courtesy of brand

There’s much to like about Zelentsova and her self-described ‘sensual and sentimental’ designs, inspired by her glamorous grandmother who brought her up in southwest Russia and is skilled at craft herself. Zelentsova knew she’d be a designer from the age of seven. ‘There was never any plan B,’ she says.

After cutting her teeth at Marc Jacobs and Burberry, Zelentsova has spent the past year creating zero waste capsule collections in her own name, all hand-crocheted, sewed and knitted from her Brixton home and sold via her website. Think candy-hued, punk-infused dresses and bralets that inject energy into the classic craft. ‘I’m greedy when it comes to techniques,’ she says, excited about the versatility of a skill often considered twee.

Photo credit: Courtesy of brand
Photo credit: Courtesy of brand

She is mindful of sustainability, too – every offcut is made into something unique. ‘I just think it’s blasphemous to waste!’ Not that being thrifty or green has thwarted Zelentsova’s sense of fun – some of her main references are the fantasy 1965 Fellini film Juliet of the Spirits and her own friends on a night out. It’s no wonder her vibrant, playful and frankly sexy knits look as they do. ‘Ultimately, I just want to make people happy. That’s what I intend to do,’ she says. And in these (still) unprecedented times, that’s all we really need.

This article appears in the May 2021 edition of ELLE UK.

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