Meet our Friday Muse: Natalie Robb of Amélie

16 June 2022
By Nicole Saunders

Fashion Quarterly talks with Natalie Robb, the creative behind Amélie – a new homegrown fashion label dedicated to creating knitwear that will last a lifetime.

One of Nat Robb's creations for Amélie, the Aldous jumper.

If you’ve ever enthusiastically picked up knitting needles for the first time only to find yourself flustered, Natalie Robb, the creative behind the recently launched knitwear label Amélie, can commiserate. But unlike those of us who quickly put the needles down, Robb soldiered on – despite admitting that her first project drove her slightly mad.

“My whānau knit and crochet, and I was inspired by all the beautiful things my brother and māmā were creating,” she explains. The first jumper Robb created – a unique piece for a friend – quickly sparked a blossoming love affair with knitting. “It was the beginning of it all. From then on, I started knitting jumpers for friends.”

Very soon, the word got out, and Robb started creating one-of-a-kind pieces for friends of friends. And now, via Amélie, Robb knits for anyone who wants to get their hands on her bespoke creations. “Amélie was originally called g-u-knit,” Robb laughs. “But when I decided to go more public with it, I renamed it Amélie.”

Left: Natalie Robb. Right: Two of her one-of-a-kind Amélie creations.

Robb’s small range includes jumpers, cardigans, vests, balaclavas, and gloves – all products she imagined herself. “It’s important I create pieces that last a lifetime, are made slowly and well, and only release small ranges and create custom-made knits. I never thought I’d have my own fashion label, so I’m figuring out how to do it along the way, but I’m happy with how it is going so far.”

Whānau is still at the heart of Amélie; Robb knits most of the pieces herself, with her mum and grandma stepping in when she finds herself swamped. “I’m very lucky,” she says. “My mum is beside me crocheting right now.” As for how she fits knitting into her busy life – Robb works full-time in climate change – most of her spare time is spent with needles in hand. “I’m focused on producing a high-quality product, so it takes its own time,” she explains. “I knit in the morning before my day job, usually on my lunch break, and spend time after work knitting. It sounds like a lot, but I love it.”

If you find yourself inspired to reach for those knitting needles again, Robb says her best advice is to find something you want to wear or make for a loved one. “I get excited if someone close to me wants me to knit something as it has a lot more meaning,” she says. “Or if it’s a new idea I want to try, those are the projects I can’t put down.” And if you’re just starting your knitting journey, Robb’s essential advice for beginners is to start with big needles. “It’s a lot quicker,” she explains.

Take a look at more of Robb’s knits here and keeping reading to discover some of her favourite things. 

The best book I’ve read recently…

We Can Make A Life by New Zealand Author Chessie Henry – she was in her 20s when she wrote this! I bring this book up at almost every occasion; it’s written so well and made me seriously invested in her family. 100/10.

I just finished Sprigs by Brannavan Gnanalingam, another New Zealand Author. This is an extremely captivating book that’s frustrating but really important to read. Put both books on your list!

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My current podcast recommendation…

NUKU – a podcast that interviews some amazing indigenous wāhine doing things differently! The stories are inspiring, emotional, and incredibly interesting. My dad bought me their book too which is also a must.

Last TV show I binged…

The Sopranos… this show will have an everlasting effect on me.

My favourite place to dine…

Recently it has been Baklawa Café in Mount Roskill – the food is OG Lebanese and is sooo delicious and reasonably priced. I also LOVE Cassia in Auckland City.

Best coffee spot…

I don’t drink coffee but the best hot choccy spot is Scopa in Pōneke! Or Tay Street in the Mount as you bump into anyone and everyone and it’s right across the beach – perfect spot after your morning surf.

Best place for a cocktail…

Auntie Social in Pōneke – such a cool funky spot in Newtown with delicious cocktails and mulled wine. The décor is fun and they have live music too.

Best current season fashion purchase…

My Wixii Tilt Tencel pants. I’m living in them! 

The item at the top of my wish list…

Rebe boots – any of them would be a dream. The riding boot is definitely a fave of mine, and I was lucky enough to be able to use them in our Amélie shoot.

My hometown’s best-kept secret…

Our family farm used to be down South, outside of Geraldine/Temuka. In Temuka there is the best vintage store in Aotearoa called Elegantly Waisted Vintage Clothing Emporium. It is in the old post office. Dad and I used to spend hours in there. It is open randomly but if you are going through and it is open, prepare to come out with endless gems.

This winter you’ll find me…

In Europe!

Where I go for inspiration…

My family bach in Whangamatā – time is slower, I’m surrounded by colour, and I’m close to the beach.

The style advice I live by…

Invest in long lasting pieces! Make fashion as slow as possible. I stay very true to this and have built Amélie on this piece of advice.

The best knitting advice I’ve ever received…

Invest in quality yarn. You want your garments to last, and you want you or your loved one to wear it often. Using synthetic yarn means your garments won’t last as long and can’t handle being worn time and time again. There are many amazing yarn suppliers here in Aotearoa that offer a range of different yarns (wool, mohair, cashmere, etc). Save your pennies and explore your local yarn store, I guarantee you’ll find something to fall in love with.

My guilty pleasure is…

Scandinavian marmalade. Mash sardines in a bowl and add fresh chopped brown onion. Splash some malt vinegar in there and season. Mix it all together and put it on hot buttered toast. It might sound like the worst thing in the world but trust me, it is YUM. It’s a family tradition!

My style icon is…

My good friend Wyllie, wears what he wants and make pulls it off so well. A low key fashionista. 

When I’m not knitting you’ll find me…

I have a full time job! I work in climate change which I love so this naturally takes up a lot of my time. In the weekend I spend most of the time adventuring with either whānau or friends. Most of the time is spent surfing, going away on trips, going to gigs, or dining out around Tāmaki! 

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