What have you done in the past year to get around boredom from lockdown? Delsy Gouw she turned to crochet, an art she learned from her mother when she was nine. Fast forward to 2021, and the founder of the knitwear brand Memorial Day, based in New York, is adored for her personal and vibrant patterns. Also the stepdaughter of the vice president of the United States Kamala Harris, Ella Emhoff, and the model Kaia Gerber they are fans of hers – “I have no idea how Kaia found me,” Gouw explains, “but I’m very grateful to her.”
Knitwear has experienced a welcome renaissance over the past year. We’ve all seen Bernie Sanders’ mittens at the inauguration of the president in January, and you may have noticed the increase in crocheted fisherman hats in your daily walks. Models are ditching ordinary gloves for pastel-colored mittens and on Instagram i have spread like wildfire crochet bikini in the style of the 2000s.
© Courtesy of Memorial Day
However, for Gouw, a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology – who is currently in her senior year, studying marketing and advertising and doing an internship – knitting was a way of venting pent-up energy, while launching a new business was like an awakening. “I didn’t know I had this creative side and now I’m thinking ‘What have I been doing all this time?’” Says 25-year-old via Zoom from her Brooklyn apartment. “It’s a bit chaotic, but the brand wouldn’t be what it is without what I know.”
The company started out as an online vintage store but the designer is aiming for expansion. Gouw’s products can be purchased via its website and from MALL NYC, but she wants to transform her brand into a sustainable commercial venture for the close-knit crochet community. Her playful and brightly colored creations range from swanky checkered fisherman hats to ton sur ton thong to festive shoulder bags – and embody that eccentricity and youthful avant-garde that made millennials and people of TikTok have flocked to his page.
Here, Gouw reveals the secrets of her dizzying success and how our generation is rethinking and reshaping sustainable fashion.
© Courtesy of Memorial Day
Where did the inspiration for Memorial Day come from?
“The name comes from my birthday, because I was born on Memorial Day, the last Monday in May. At first, Memorial Day was the name of my online vintage shop but, due to Covid-19, I couldn’t stock it and thought ‘What else could I do?’ Back then, crochet had become a hobby and the first piece I made and sold was a shoulder bag made for my best friend. One day it could be a thong and the other a fisherman’s hat ”.
Ella Emhoff and Kaia Gerber wore your models. How does it feel?
“I really have to thank word of mouth because I think there was a cascade effect. She contacted me to do an exchange, which is great because I love her job. We ended up swapping various garments and luckily, everything went as it should. Exchanges with other creatives and designers are great because it’s our way of saying ‘I admire and respect your work’. Kaia texted me and I have no idea how she found me but again, I’m extremely grateful to her. If my aim had been to attract stars, I wouldn’t have been able to focus on what I have now ”.
Was crochet a comfort during the lockdown?
“Definitely! I concentrate so much on knitting that I lose track of time, or the hours of sleep. Getting into knitwear worked really well, especially spending all that time at home. I’m lucky a crochet hook and a little thread are all it takes – it’s that simple and no machinery is needed. Fortunately, finding the thread was easy enough. I only buy it from Joann and in large quantities. Sooner or later I want to focus on more sustainable yarns, even on inventory leftovers “.
Who would you most like to wear your clothes?
“Harry Styles. He is a huge star and an incredible influencer. The cover that American dedicated to him Vogue, in which she wears the Gucci women’s dress, was a really important moment for many people. If she were wearing something of mine, it would be extraordinary and it would also help reinforce the message that there are no men’s or women’s clothes. There are only clothes ”.
© Courtesy of Memorial Day
Why do you think Generation Z has a particular love of sustainability and DIY fashion?
“TikTok influences me a lot. My feed is constantly flooded with videos on how to repurpose vintage garments or create whole crochet suits. The fashion industry has so changed, people are now looking for pieces that will last a lifetime. Clothes that are fun. Clothes that tell something, that are not just a passing fashion. There’s still the misperception that it’s grandparent stuff – but it’s so versatile. “
What does the future hold for your brand?
“I have collaborations that will start soon with some very interesting designers. The first will be with The Consistency Project and we will create a ready-to-wear collection using sustainable yarns – the goal is to launch it in spring. I will also be working on a bikini line with Tyler McGillivary, which I hope to release within the year. One of my main goals for Memorial Day is to be able to teach people different approaches and even create tutorials, similar to those of Wool and the Gang. “