The yarn she uses is ethically sourced, whether it be cotton, cashmere, silk or alpaca. When speaking about the evolution of her designs from alpaca to apparel, she does so with a reverence to the animal as if she knows it by name and has been to visit the Peruvian breeder to pet the alpaca’s silky fleece.
“My winter wool comes from Peru from a breeder that is really ethical regarding its treatment of the animals, with very regulated quantities. And everything that is cotton comes from Italy in very limited quantities as well. I want to make sure that all of my suppliers work in methods that are good for the planet, or in any case to a maximum.”
She also speaks reverently about her grandmother’s strong influence on her vocation and what her grandmother passed on to her by way of the knitting tradition.
“I was taught by my grandmother who taught my mother, but my mother was really busy with work and didn’t have the patience or time to teach me so it was the hobby we did together at four o’clock when I came home from school.”
Her grandmother even helped Thys with a tricky design project for Thys’ final show at Esmod in 2014, but has sadly not lived to see her go on to create her own label last year.
The principle of the brand is to pay more but buy less, and only buy the most beautiful things – natural beauty, of course – so as to make as little waste as possible. It’s not a collection, but a wardrobe, and therefore more intimate, considered, and conscious.
“I think it’s time to change things up. Why pay people to make clothes for miserable salaries when it is completely possible to make it here in Belgium, even if the price is a little more expensive. What’s more, it’s much better for the climate. It’s my way of changing things or at least to try. It’s time to put clothes back into a different category, as they were in the past, to make them. There are people who are trained to knit here in Belgium and I don’t see why companies have to go elsewhere for clothes.”
Her words are an ode to the grandmother in her rocking chair, knitting a tangible legacy for her grandchildren to wear into the future. Indeed, a heritage we hold dear in our collective emotional memories and indeed better than the sweat shops and child labour that have replaced it.
If the sheep, alpaca, or goat knew of the love Thys puts into her work, I’m sure they would give her the fleece off their backs.