Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
In the sea of dainty jewelry and boho dress brands that compose a large part the made-in-LA fashion scene, Knorts sticks out like a sore thumb. And we mean that in the best possible way.
For starters, the indigo-dyed knit clothing collection isn't gender specific, which means their rad branding includes images of boys in bikini tops and gals rocking baggy joggers—and all of it seems to make perfect sense. After all, the line was created out of designer Eleanore Guthrie's own need for garments that let her bike around town feeling cool, comfortable, and free (not over-sexualized), so Knorts focuses on breathable, feel-good fits, regardless of whether your style du jour is oversized or itty-bitty (personally we're wish-listing these overalls and this comfy crop top).
Guthrie recently taught us a bit more about the concept behind her contemporary collection, including her go-to LA haunts for getting inspired, and what the heck's up with that name.
Other than the fact that it's a rad word, why Knorts?
Knorts came to mind as I was trying to figure out a name that wasn't traditional in the fashion industry. The brand isn't traditional, so using the typical flowery name or my personal name would contradict what the brand is all about. I wanted something slightly awkward in order to challenge the industry norm.
To be honest, Knorts is short for "knit shorts" because the brand started with only a few knit shorts designs. It was inspired by the term "jorts" for jean shorts because I was born in the 90s and that was a popular term back then.
How did the line come to be?
The line came to be while I was a senior at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah (yes, I was a devout snowboarder). I rode my bike everywhere because Salt Lake is so beautiful, the weather is comfortable, the parties are close, the streets are navigable, and the downtown area isn't too big and ridiculously busy like LA. I always wanted to look stylish on my bike because...who doesn't want to look good? But wearing those types of clothes riding probably would have sterilized me by now if I were a guy. It was while riding in the summer months that I became obsessed with the knit shorts I had collected over the years. They were super comfortable, stylish, and I didn't see anyone else wearing them. Since I couldn't satiate my hunger for knit shorts, I decided to start designing them. After I came out with a few shorts, people wanted to see me design other garments as well, so I gave it a shot.
Knorts is composed of unisex pieces. Did that come from a desire or experience of your own, to create clothing that wasn't gender restrictive?
Growing up, I always had a bit of a gender neutral outlook on fashion because I played a lot of team sports in uniforms that consisted of t-shirts and baggy shorts, so that's what I felt most comfortable wearing. When it came to dressing myself in clothes other than team uniforms, it was usually impossible to find girl's shorts long enough to not make me feel like a sexual object. To remedy that, I would either buy extremely large girl's shorts for the extra length or I'd resort to buying boy's shorts, neither of which made me feel good about myself because the fits were awkward (though I've since embraced really short knitted shorts because they make me feel free and unrestricted; I don't view them as a sexualized design anymore, but rather something that allows me to be comfortable with my natural body).
Having pulled garments from the boy's and girl's section throughout my life, it was only natural for me to design clothes that represented the best of both worlds. One of the differences between traditional male and female clothing and Knorts is that our knitwear is designed and marketed with a focus on fit, running in sizes 1, 2, 3, etc. rather than with a focus on gender. One should buy the 4 if they want an oversized, baggy look and buy a 1 if they want a more form-fitting look.
What inspires you about living and working in LA, or where do you go for a jolt of inspiration in town?
I am constantly inspired by all of the people in LA who are already living their dreams or are working hard to turn their dreams into a reality. It takes balls to relentlessly pursue what your heart desires.
I can't help but be particularly inspired by all of the artists in LA. Many have become my friends, fellow collaborators, mentors, etc. and they are all making names for themselves in ways that I never thought would be attainable. When I learn of their accomplishments, it only encourages me to work harder because they proved anything is possible. They are the ones who keep me believing in Knorts and myself. They are also some of my biggest supporters (other than my mom).
For a jolt of inspiration, I love attending art show openings at all the local art galleries (MAMA, MaRS, Rhabbitat, and Last Projects in particular) because of the artists who are bringing their visions to fruition as well as all the young professionals who attend wearing creative outfits. I also love stopping by my favorite Italian boutique and showroom, A One Plus, on La Brea to chat with my friends and mentors Ricardo Rizzi and Antonio Barragan. They have a lot of experience in the fashion industry, so I naturally learn a lot from them.
How would you explain the brand's message?
Knorts strives to communicate that nothing should influence, force, or pressure a person into particular mold, hence the reason all of the designs stretch. Knorts wants people to be comfortable with everything that comes naturally to them, including things like bodies, beliefs, creativity, personality, self expression, etc.