Ever since my parents threw out my large collection of band tees (yes, mostly from the ACTUAL gigs) while I was living overseas, there’s been a punk-shaped hole in my closet.
Yes, as any music enthusiast knows, this is a trauma that I will never fully recover from. However, when I see super cool things like the knitted sweaters by Aussie designer and TAFE NSW graduate-turned-teacher, Kaylene Milner with her label Wah Wah Australia – I regain a sliver of hope.
Yes mates, knitwear is not just for your grandma or ironic hipster friend anymore. Wah Wah is making it legitimately cool. From Sonic Youth to Reg Mombassa (the genius behind iconic Mambo designs) – everyone is signing on to let Kaylene knit the heck out of them.
“I had this idea rumbling around in the back of my brain to do graphic knitwear that was inspired by an image I saw when I was in highschool of J Mascis from the band Dinosaur Jr,” Kaylene explains.
“He was in a hand-knitted sweater that his Grandmother had made him. It says Deep Wound and it’s a punk rock hand-knitted sweater – I just love that clashing of cultures.”
Just when you thought she couldn’t get any cooler, most of her early designs were of bands that she KNEW PERSONALLY and even PLAYED WITH. For her, it was just the easiest way to get permish – for me that just made her my teenhood idol.
I’m not the only one fan-girling either. Please feast your eyes above on Ben Gilles sporting a Wah Wah Silverchair sweater.
“Wah Wah seems to grow very organically at its own pace. I’ve had a lot of boutiques ask to stock it but I’ve decided just to keep it direct to customer, which is really important. I absolutely love emailing customers all over the world,” Kaylene says.
She’s not kidding about all over the world. Across the waters, she’s attracted the attention of supremely odd and totally lovable British comedian, Noel Fielding. Here he is on The Great British Bake Off in a Wah Wah design:
“By the end of [studying Fashion Design at TAFE NSW] I knew how to…design a cohesive collection [and] how to communicate using computer-assisted design – which has been really useful. It’s actually been the thing that’s allowed me to have a business and to grow it from home.”
What I enjoy most, though, is the fact Wah Wah make their garments in Australia, using Australian wool to both support local and ensure fair work for fair pay.
You love to see it! Of course, I would love to see it hanging in my wardrobe more, but that’s just me.Image: Provided.