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Tsitsi Fred Knitwear is an emerging knitwear brand founded in 2016 by a Zimbabwean born London based textile designer Tsitsi Fred who is well known for her signature artisanal knits. As a
young girl she grew up with her auntie who owned a knitwear studio. This is where she got her inspiration from as she used to knit alongside the workers, learning simple knit techniques.
Tsitsi Fred studied Fashion Textiles (Knitwear) at University of Arts London (London College of Fashion). Tsitsi Fred’s first collection ‘Knowing Dylan’ was inspired by her son who is diagnosed autistic and presents social and communication deficits from a very young age. Through research
she integrated her findings into fashion where materials, colour, texture, functionality and practicalities of the garments are all taken into consideration to suit the needs of the autistic as well as the non-autistic, aim being to break the boundaries of a neurotypical culture and raise a neurodevelopmental awareness to the society. Since her first collection, she has participated in community autism awareness projects in Greenwich Borough. She showcased her new collection ‘miles apart’ at Africa Fashion Week London 2017 and this collection is also inspired by her autistic son and her immediate family.
‘Knowing Dylan’ won Tsitsi Fred a Fashion Designer of the Year title at the Zimbabwe Fashion Showcase UK (ZFSUK) in July 2016 and was also awarded for being the Unique Knitwear Fashion
Designer at Women of Purpose “Be It” Purpose Excellence Recognition in October 2016. Tsitsi Fred was nominated for ‘Fashion Designer of the Year 2016’ at Zimbabwe Achievers Awards inNovember 2016, ‘People’s Choice’ category at Black African Women Rock in November 2016 and was also among Style Oracle Fashion Awards (SOFA) nominees for Zim Diaspora Fashion Influencers 2016. She was selected as a finalist in the category of Fashion Designer of the Year 2017 by Women4Africa UK.
In April 2016 Tsitsi Fred collaborated with her former tutor and made garments for a S/S 17 collection that showcased at Pitti Filati (Florence, Italy) in June 2016. Tsitsi Fred is an Associate Lecturer / Outreach Mentor for University of Arts London Insight (London College of Fashion) where she teaches students from widening participation backgrounds. Tsitsi Fred launched a Foundation Trust by the name ‘Knowing Dylan’ aim being to raise autism awareness through fashion as well as helping families living with autism in Zimbabwe, aiming to expand to other
parts of Southern Africa in a few years to come.
When it comes to design Tsitsi Fred always creates one of a kind knitwear that is colourful and very textural, she makes samples and garments that are empowering. To challenge her aim, she
challenges traditional techniques and tries to push boundaries of modern knitwear. Her knits are made of a mixture of fine and thick cotton and luxurious yarns. Her collection gained popularity soon after her showcase at the ZFSUK 2016 and was published in the Herald and Daily News Zimbabwe. One of her pieces was published in Cake Magazine UK in December 2016). Tsitsi Fred
is working towards producing exclusive and original knitwear that is sustainably sourced and ethically made.
Related links: blogs.arts.ac.uk: On the cusp of graduation with Outreach mentor Tsitsi Fred