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Alternative Shetland Knitwear launches online

29 September 2014

An innovative knitwear design studio based in the village of Hoswick, Shetland, is expanding its business by launching a new website and online boutique.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is providing grant funding of £24,882 to Nielanell which is owned by designer Niela Kalra, and whose contemporary collections have sold successfully to locals, visitors and cruise ship passengers since 2008.

With the aim of reaching wider national and international customers, Niela Kalra has invested in the business to raise awareness of her ‘alternative Shetland knitwear’. 

Support from HIE towards the project has allowed the business to develop the brand, an online boutique, product research and development and diversification.

Elaine Jamieson, Head of Business Growth at HIE, commented: “Nielanell brings to the market unique garments influenced by Shetland life, but very different from traditional Shetland knitwear. HIE recognises that Nielanell has significant growth potential and we are keen to support the business in activities that would help it reach wider UK and global markets, and to develop trade sales with niche retailers. Nielanell’s inventive garments demonstrate the diversity of high-quality knitwear coming from the islands.”

The Nielanell collections merge innovation and artisan tradition in striking designs combining high-quality merino and cashmere with high-tech fibres. Striking colourways are rarely repeated, constantly being updated in limited collections and one-off designs. Collections include capes, snoods, boat-neck jumpers, tunic dresses and accessories, all designed and produced by a talented, locally based team.

Niela Kalra said: “We aim to make highly innovative, individual items and keep the highest of standards in our design techniques and production. Sustainability of the local economy and culture is of the utmost importance to us. HIE’s support has enabled me to focus my aims and aspirations to achieve concrete results and to engage a creative team, whose experience in a wider arena is invaluable, in re-branding my business and developing an appropriately design-focused website and online boutique.”

The launch of the online boutique comes on the back of international exposure for Nielanell, who was commissioned to design the official garments for 100 Shetland fiddlers who performed at The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in August 2014.


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