V&A Dundee

Festive Design Market: Jo-AMI

On the run up to our Festive Design Market, we talk to some of the exhibitors about their work, their inspirations and process. Hear from Jolene Guthrie, founder of Jo-AMI, about her cool, contemporary take on classic knitwear and building a Dundee-born fashion brand.

My design process involves me drawing out a new idea, then sampling it on my hand powered knitting machine, then deciding on shape and construction. Next I'll produce a full sample of the design before confirm sizing and colour options. A lot of my products are made to order which means they can be customised in size and colour. This gives the customer control and ultimately creates a perfect piece that has a personal connection. Knitwear evokes an emotional connection and I want customers to cherish their Jo-AMI garment or accessory for a long time!

A photo of a woman standing in a studio
Jolene Guthrie

It is very exciting to be able to run my brand from my home town as when I first graduated I had to move away to seek experiences and find work. I think it shows how much the creative scene in Dundee has really developed and allowed for more independent brands to emerge and have a platform. I think I've been able to find my niche and allow my brand to develop it's own style and become recognisable. There's such a variety of fashion brands in Dundee and Scotland and its great to see the support network that has evolved with this. My advice would be to never give up on your dream and understand your own "why" for doing what you're doing. Then other decisions will become easier and your brand values will become stronger.

A woman with pink hair wearing a pink hoody.
Two people standing next to each other wearing a knitted patch t-shirt
A woman wearing two tote bags, one orange and one pink.
  • Jo-AMI Hoody

  • Jo-AMI Patch tee

  • Tilly Tote bag

I like to develop on from my own work, taking influence from the Scottish knitwear archives. When I knit, I am essentially creating my own fabric. I have complete freedom to create a totally unique piece, a modern take on classic knitwear. I take a lot of inspiration from iconic Scottish knitwear but like to develop and rethink the patterns, colours and textures into new exciting ideas, using sustainable high quality materials and ethical production processes.

I am currently working from my own home studio but would love to get my own space in Dundee. Then I can then invite customers in to to see where everything is made, discuss custom orders and feel the products themselves. I would love to continue doing more high profile pop up shops and meet more customers in person.

I have my biggest collaborative project launching on 4 November with V&A Dundee, featuring exclusive Bella beanies, sock design colours and sock gift boxes, available in the museum shop and website. This is a huge collaboration for Jo-AMI and one we are super proud of! We will also have new pieces in the runway show at V&A Dundee as part of the Scotland Re:Design fashion festival on 17 November.

You can find Jolene at the Festive Design Market on Sunday.

Festive Design Market is in collaboration with Tea Green Events.