For years Brunswick was one of Melbourne’s fashion and knitwear manufacturing hubs, but over the last few decades the industry has moved off-shore and most of the factories and workshops have slowly closed. That’s why I was so excited when I discovered Otto & Spike, a family run knitwear label that has been proudly manufacturing knitwear in Melbourne for over 50 years.
Not only did I visit this very unique Hidden Retail Gem, I had the privileged of taking a behind the scenes tour of the Otto & Spike knitwear factory!
The Otto & Spike Concept Store
Recently Otto & Spike has opened a storefront to showcase their colourful range of locally made scarves, blankets, homewares, socks, beanies, and accessories, all made from premium Australian wool.
It’s chilly in Melbourne at the moment, so it’s the perfect time to wrap up in some cosy wool. The store is a riot of colour and I loved the variety of designs available. There’s really something here to suit everyone’s taste.
Melbournians have a reputation for wearing a lot of black, so for a colour lover like myself, finding well made garments in vibrant colours and patterns can be quite a challenge. It’s refreshing to walk into a store and have such an awesome range of designs to choose from.
It’s also good to know that Otto & Spike is endorsed by Ethical Clothing Australia, and is committed to safe treatment of all animals involved in the wool gathering process.
Here’s how to wear an Otto & Spike infinity scarf 4 ways:
Behind the Scenes at Otto & Spike
If you’ve been reading for a while you know that I’m fascinated by the making process, so the opportunity to visit the Otto & Spike knitwear factory in Brunswick was too good to pass up. Owner Anthony Mananov gave me a tour.
The Mananov family have been in the knitting game for over 50 years and are passionate about preserving part of Brunswick rich textile industry history. Even though the Otto & Spike designs are contemporary, the machines that are used to create the range vary in age from 1890 to the 1990’s. As Melbourne’s knitting mills have closed, father and son team, Les and Anthony Mananov have bought up surplus yarn and outdated machines, reconditioning them and giving them a new life. Many of them are still programmed manually, or with outdated floppy disks. They’ll end up in a museum one day (hopefully), but up till now, they are still creating beautiful products. So just like Les, no signs of retiring yet.
My favourite machine was the glove knitting machine. I watched as it knit one finger at a time and spit out a whole lambswool glove in under a minute.
It can be programmed to knit various styles including finger-less. The most fascinating part was the difference in the feel of the fiber from the knitting stage to the finished product. The glove is knitted quite large with a yarn that feels slightly oily and a little coarse, but once it’s steamed/washed the glove shrinks, loses it’s oily reside and feels soft and fluffy.
Machinists then hem the cuff, add labels, and then the finished product is ready for pressing, then off to the shops.
I’ve always wanted my very own pair of finger-less gloves, and I got to see my actual pair being tagged and pressed. What a treat! I chose these in petrol colourway.
The warehouse is full of colourful yarns collected over many decades, which means they can create truly unique products in limited runs.
I loved chatting to the ladies on the sewing machines, who took time out of their tea break to show me how their vintage pom pom maker worked. Maria tells me she’s probably made thousands of pom poms in her time, what a star!
Otto & Spike is part of the fabric of Melbourne, if you’re in the Brunswick area take a detour down Victoria street and pop in to see their fine knitted wares. If you’re not in Melbourne, they have an online shop with FREE SHIPPING Australia Wide.
Phone: 0431 144 218
Where: 324 Victoria Street,Brunswick VIC 3056
Tuesday 11 – 4pm
Wednesday 11 – 4pm
Thursday 11 – 4pm
Friday 11 – 6pm
Saturday 11 – 4pm
Sunday 11 – 2pm