Berlin based knitwear brand Maiami translates traditional craftsmanship into modern designs with a playful ease. What started as a private pleasure developed over the years organically into an inspiring business concept. We met Maike Dietrich, the creative mind behind the imaginative chunky creations to talk return to traditional techniques, being part of the slow movement as a natural consequence of running a hand-knitting brand and the importance of keeping up private spaces.
LASTING COLLECTIVE: Maike, could you tell us more about your brand mission?
MAIAMI: It's important for me to show that traditional handcraftship can be translated into a modern, contemporary look. I want to create an "Anti Consumerism" attitude. It's our mission to make people appreciate products that take time to be made. In short: "Maiami believes in slow fashion as a new luxury."
LASTING COLLECTIVE: You are a passionate knitter. Was it always your vision to have your own brand?
MAIAMI: No, actually i never really thought of it as a possibility. Somehow it all started by accident, around 2004. Shortly before i rediscovered knitting for me. After a boom in the 80ies, hand knitting wasn't relevant at all anymore. In the 90ies everything was very technical, there wasn't much knitwear on the market. But I always loved knitting, already as a child. And when i remembered my old favorite past time i started making pullovers for myself again. Out of boredom I started experimenting with oversize patterns, i created huge flowers and intarsia which were actually so huge that one could hardly tell what it was. I would wear those jumpers and everyone would love them. My friends started coming to me with wish lists and asked for personalized jumpers. My boyfriend of that time wanted a Kalashnikov, and a friend asked for the head of a horse. And i was happy to take on the challenge and make it.
LASTING COLLECTIVE: What happened then? How did you start to commercialize your passion?
MAIAMI: I was well connected in the German fashion and creative scene, some friends were stylists, another owned a magazine, while others again were photographers and editors. They all wanted to help. At some point someone said: Japanese would love what you do. And when i finally launched my first collection—all sweaters featuring oversized patterns—this prediction was right. The very first Japanese store that ordered was Beams, "the" trendsetting Tokyo store. And that's how it all took off into a real business...
LASTING COLLECTIVE: In how far do you consider MAIAMI a "conscious" brand?
MAIAMI: The fact that every piece is hand made makes it conscious for me. I hand-pick each of the women who create our pieces personally, i know their stories, it's important for me to stay in contact with them...
LASTING COLLECTIVE: How do you create? And what is your most important source of inspiration when designing your collections?
MAIAMI: I need the slowness, the process of making to develop a new collection. I have to seclude myself from the outer world. To create i need space. And loneliness. When I am alone I watch movies or TV series. I start knitting on a new piece and have a movie running at the same time. I am too productive to only watch. It is like a natural source of inspiration, it happens almost accidentally that patterns inspired by those movies find their way into my knitting. Twin Peaks is great for my creation process, or Gorki Park. There is e.g. this scene where she wears this amazing head piece—and of course this was a piece that found its way into one of my collections. These films find inspire the whole concept of a collection—from the pieces to the campaign and look book shooting.
LASTING COLLECTIVE: There is a universal demand for speed in today's fashion business. How does it collide with your idea of slowness?
MAIAMI: We are a fashion brand in the end and it's what our customers expects that's why we try to keep up with the crazy speed of the of the seasons. But in the end it's a contradiction to our philosophy, but also to the idea of hand knitting in general. It is a slow process that takes time. And it's the thing that i love the most about knitting—the slowness. That's why I ask myself sometimes: What happens if i just say "no" to all this and start to follow my own rhythm? Maybe I should really do it...