A Co Antrim woman is leading the latest fashion trends with her colorful crochet bucket hats, but is urging shoppers to support local and independent makers when they opt for the artisanal look this summer.
he recent resurgence of Y2K clothing trends has been a serious hit within the fashion community and no exception has been made when revisiting our most beloved accessories from the early 90s and 00s; from garish beaded jewelry to platform sandals, but one accessory stands out from the crowd – the crochet bucket hat.
The latest summer craze has been spotted on the pages of Vogue as well as on Instagram with celebrities, such as Dua Lipa and models Bella Hadid and Hailey Beiber, sporting the latest must-have headwear.
Caitlin Armstrong (29), originally from Whitehead but currently living near Manchester, started her crochet business shortly after leaving Ulster University, where she was studying textile art along with design and fashion, in 2015.
“My hobby quickly turned into an online business when I was between jobs and got back into crocheting, which I thought was actually quite therapeutic, so I decided to get into making hats and different things and I guess it just took off from there,” she told the Belfast Telegraph.
“Crocheting is also very easy to learn and a fun way to create unique and lasting garments for yourself and others.”
With a Gucci bucket hat over £400 and Fendi selling theirs over £700, Caitlin hopes to encourage those who admire the crochet craze to support locals wherever possible and care about fast fashion and high-end designers selling similar products. for less.
“My crochet style and the techniques I use have evolved a lot over the years; I design more complex models, which take longer to make and that has to be reflected in my prices,” she explained.
“I sell my hats for between £20 and £40, so I want people to understand the value of handmade products; hours and hours of work go into designing, crocheting, photographing, editing, listing and marketing my handmade accessories and clothing.
“What worries me is that some fast fashion brands have started selling crochet items at very low prices and this unfortunately reflects the low compensation offered for labor in the crochet industry. fashion,” she explained.
“It’s impossible to crochet by machine because machines are unable to create the cross-chains that are a definite attribute of hand crocheting, so the major brands that sell crocheted tops, bags and hats therefore make either imitation crochet fabric, which can be knitted and sewn on machines, or by greatly underpaying workers to produce these items by hand.
She added that artists like her spend hours, if not days, creating a singular piece and urges customers to support designers as they seek to recreate the retro style.
“Clearly the products created by us artists are of good quality and I can create any color and pattern you like, so why not support local instead of going fast fashion? ” Caitlin said.
The accomplished artist not only sells her artful creations online, but also works as a product developer for Grant International in England, working closely with brands Pretty Green and Lazy Oaf to bring their colorful accessories to life.
“I love my job because it reflects my interests in the fashion and textile industry,” she said.
“With each passing season, brands are learning what it takes to become more eco-friendly, like using REACH-compliant and recycled fabrics, packing goods in compostable or recycled polybags, shipping production in bulk by sea rather than by air and increase minimum order quantities to reduce wasted fabric in manufacturing.
Since launching her online moniker ‘CAITmaker’, the talented craftswoman has created a wide range of crochet headwear, from 90s-style bucket hats in bright, bold colors and patterns to woolen witch hats in styles black and rainbow and colorful devil horn hats – both sold year round, not just on Halloween.
After creating her very first bob in 2018, she has also branched out into crochet jewelry, festival wear, scarves, and even miniature stockings and sweaters for Christmas, but she still primarily focuses on the ideals of sustainable fashion.
“I use a variety of different types of yarn for my unique designs, blends of acrylic, cotton, used and store bought wool and I even use 50 year old wool that belonged to my granddaughter. -mother!” explained Caitlin.
“My packaging is also 100% biodegradable, so I try – where I can – to make my products as sustainable as possible.”
To keep up to date with Caitlin’s latest creations, follow @cait_maker on Instagram.