Unisex label Jac+ Jack release a one-time project of hand-darned sweaters, each purposefully mismatched.
When Jacqueline Hunt first spied art consultant Virginia Wilson, she was sauntering down Woollahra’s terrace-lined Queen Street, eyes masked by a colossal pair of sunglasses, slender form outfitted in black jeans and a too-big white shirt. Hunt was, as she puts it, utterly distracted by this character: “When I think of her, I think of Darlinghurst … in its truest form.”
Wilson soon became friends with Hunt and her business partner Lisa Dempsey, with whom Hunt founded knitwear brand Jac+ Jack. Over the years, the designers observed the inimitable manner in which Wilson moved in her garments, the way she’d have them mended and tailored and tucked to suit her form. As Wilson changed, her clothes did too, and they liked that very much.
Jac+ Jack garments are famously neutral: the woollens are pillowy and soft and have cuts that don’t date; their shirting comes in hues that are the antithesis of shout-y. Like near-everything she wears, Wilson even made these her own—adding sleeve extenders to older pieces so they drooped a little further past her wrists (she’s very tall, and jumpers often don’t fit), darning small holes with bright little patches. The effect, with all its purposefully incongruous woolly bits, was like a grown-up Pippy Longstockings.
As an ode to their long-time friend’s custom fix-its, Jac+ Jack have released a limited edition collection entitled The Darning Project, adapting men’s and women’s pieces from Winter 2017. Produced in collaboration with Chandaroti, a non-for-profit initiative based in India, a percentage from each piece will go directly to the Yarrenyty Arltere Artists. In these reworked knits, clashing stripes of yellow and purple poke out from mushroom turtlenecks. Squares and rectangles—in shades of pink and sky blue—climb up a round-necked men’s sweater. There are 44 garments in total.
Hunt argues the tradition of repairing something in a way that identifies and enhances it has been lost; too often we attempt to make pulls and holes seem as though they never existed. The stitches Jac+ Jack have used here are practical and robust—reminiscent of blankets at Hunt’s grandparents’ country home. “The beauty of this project is the use of different wools,” says Hunt. “It’s not about blending and invisible repairs … The sleeve extenders are created using a simple jersey hand stitch knitting technique; the skill is in the simplicity, the restraint and the colour combinations. Too much or too little wouldn’t work. I think that’s where Virginia’s eye for what works comes into play.”
The Darning Project is available across Jac+ Jack’s six stores and online. Each piece is darned by hand, ensuring miniscule differences in knitting tension.