PDR KNITTING

Luxury knitwear made in Los Angeles

Jakarta Post 1

Jakarta Post, Tuesday February 9, 2021 -- Print Edition

The United States presidential inauguration on Jan. 20 was a highly watched ceremony that was broadcast all over the world. Fashion-wise, the event was also a parade of some of the world’s top designers. Among the looks that stole the show was Michelle Obama’s plum suit by Sergio Hudson. The three-piece pantsuit consisted of a long, tailored overcoat, high-waist pants and turtle-neck sweater that kept the 44th US first lady warm in the harsh January cold. The sweater was produced by PDR Knitting, a private label knitting company owned by Indonesian-born knitter Evita Chu. 

The sweater was produced by PDR Knitting, a private label knitting company owned by Indonesian-born knitter Evita Chu. “The color [of the sweater] is actually called oxblood,” Evita told The Jakarta Post. “The material is Italian yak wool and cashmere. It’s very soft and warm.”

 

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Dressing Michelle Obama: Indonesian-born knitter Evita Chu climbs the fashion ranks - Lifestyle - The Jakarta Post

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LIFESTYLE

Dressing Michelle Obama: Indonesian-born knitter Evita Chu climbs the fashion ranks

SYLVIANA HAMDANI

THE JAKARTA POST

PREMIUM

 Jakarta  /  Tue, February 9, 2021  /  02:56 pm

September 10, 2019

 

Welcome to our new series, Factory Tour, in which we're taking you inside the manufacturing facilities of some of our favorite brands to find out how the clothes we buy are actually made. 

 

While domestic apparel manufacturing has all but disappeared from the United States, knitwear factories are especially few and far between. Many designers, even if they produce other categories domestically, outsource knitwear to countries like Italy, Peru, China and Japan where there are more knitters and lower production costs. But for those who are dedicated to a made-in-the-USA ethos, or want to produce locally for quality control and convenience, there are options, like PDR Knitting in Downtown Los Angeles.

 

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Why Los Angeles’ Menswear Scene Is Flourishing
BY STEPHEN GARNER

FEBRUARY 26, 2020

When you think of fashion capitals around the world, the obvious always pops up: Paris, London, Milan, Tokyo, New York. But with a new decade upon us, Los Angeles is staking its claim as a creative force in fashion.

If the ‘70s through early ‘90s was a golden age of the city’s fashion scene, the early aughts took an unfortunate turn when L.A. “style” became synonymous with trucker hats, Ugg boots, and Juicy Couture velour tracksuits. Now, there’s an optimism and an easeful elegance defining the city’s most beloved labels. So much so, that New York-based talent is frequently flocking west for a new point of view under the endless sun and towering palm trees.

But Angelinos have more than New Yorkers to thank for the city’s sartorial rehab and rebirth – it’s largely due to a new generation of designers committed to local production and craftsmanship and taking a grassroots approach to brand-building. From the likes of John Elliott, Amiri, Fear of God, Matias, Les Tien, Elder Statesmen, Rhude, Outerknown and countless other menswear brands that were born in L.A. over the last decade, the community is thriving.


WHAT’S GOING ON WITH MANUFACTURING?

Through our research, we were able to get in contact with one local factory in downtown L.A. that specializes in luxury fashion knits called PDR Knitting. The operation is run by Evita Chu, who started her business by accident (quite literally) 13 years ago when a severe car accident caused her to have to quit her design job and stay home to recover. While she was home, a friend of Chu’s asked her to knit a few sweaters, and they were a hit. Through word of mouth, and several trial and error milestones, Chu now boasts a client roster ranging from fashion clients like the artist Sterling Ruby (who launched his own brand in 2018 called SR Studio LA CA), Fear of God, Reese Cooper, Camp High, Baja East, Grei New York, to home goods and even dog sweaters.

Chu confidently says that she is one of only two or three luxury knitwear producers in the entire United States. Her secret to success is her willingness to work with individual clients on out of the box ideas. She researches their collection and concept, then will direct them to a specific yarn and technique that would be appropriate for their collection. And magic is born.


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https://mr-mag.com/why-los-angeles-menswear-scene-is-flourishing/

 

 

MANUFACTURING

Investing in Los Angeles’ Next-Gen Knitting Industry

Dorothy Crouch, Associate Editor | Thursday, February 8, 2018

As many design houses rely on outsourced production that has been sent overseas, domestic suppliers are investing in their own businesses, building strong reputations for quality products and incomparable service.

One of those is Evita Chu, owner of PDR Knitting, who explains how she unintentionally transitioned her quiet hobby into a trusted source for luxury knitwear that is made in a 7,000-square-foot space in Los Angeles’s South-Central neighborhood.

“I had back-to-back car accidents. The second one prompted me to quit my job. While I was rehabbing at home, a friend of mine called me and asked me if I could knit him some sweaters. He told his friend, and his friend told another friend, and it landed with Mike Gonzalez of Mike & Chris, who called me. That was my big break,” she explained.

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Evita Chu, owner of PDR Knitting, in her studio, surrounded by her projects

Since that opportunity in 2006, Chu has grown her business into a 14-employee operation that includes nine automated, all-gauge machines that use extremely thick or thin yarns. Employees join sweater pieces through a linking machine and perform hand finishing while adhering to Chu’s standards, which rely on Italian and French traditions of quality.

Despite her belief that the future of the industry is in automation, she retains two hand-loom knitters, reflecting her love of traditional production methods, value of loyalty and desire to see others succeed in domestic production.

“They have been with me from day one. They have been really loyal to me, and I will be loyal to them. Actually, one hand-loom knitter, I promoted her to assistant programmer,” she said.

While Chu is dedicated to promoting local manufacturing through a passion for creating products that spread the made-in-America message, the overhead for managing a business locally is expensive. She cites rising business costs—such as rent, increased minimum wage, public-health license waivers and workers’ compensation insurance—as large expenses that are shifting her strategy.

“We were, at one time, 24 employees and right now we are down to 14,” Chu said. “Mainly because we cannot afford any more with the rising of the minimum wage, so we have become more automatic right now. Basically, the domestic price as it was, even 11 years ago, has been high compared to overseas production. Even right now, products made in Italy are cheaper.”
 

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A knitter works on a hand-loom machine.

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A PDR Knitting employee uses a linking machine to connect the pieces of a project.


Despite the burden of the growing costs to manufacture in Los Angeles, Chu remains optimistic about her knitting niche, which caters to the luxury market.

“I think because mainly we are dealing with the high-end market, there is always a consumer in the high-end industry, and they are less price sensitive to anything that is going on. The market that got hit the most was contemporary, which is in the middle,” she said.

With luxury-market clients—such as Baja EastHelfrich Los AngelesJohn Elliott and lifestyle brand Giannetti Home—price points that hover from around $400 to approximately $2,000 afford greater financial security in a challenging marketplace. Though consumer spending in the luxury sector means customers spend more money on individual pieces, the bottom line is that these buyers expect quality, which is not lost on Chu.
 

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View of the PDR Knitting workspace, which includes this Shima Seiki SSR 112 machine

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The PDR Knitting resource room, where clients choose yarns from the company’s collection


“The most expensive ones [brands] still survive and, also, we try to keep our quality on par with Italian products since we cater mainly to the luxury market. Most of my clients, because they’re in luxury, don’t follow a certain trend. They are the trend leaders,” she said.

These leaders are focused on the high caliber and accessibility of Chu’s services. As a client who has worked with PDR Knitting for six years, Canadian designer Raif Adelberg of Herman Market prioritizes quality of his finished designs and feels a kinship through working with a North American company.

“She is really good at what she does, plain and simple,” he said. “With her attention to detail, timing, quality and delivery, there was no reason to go overseas. When you are producing sweaters retailing for $1,600, you’re not selling thousands of them. I felt everyone was going overseas to save a dollar and, on that level, I don’t know how much you’re saving.”

This sentiment is echoed by Brandon Sun, who has worked with Chu on his eponymous brand since her company started 12 years ago. “Nothing beats seeing the entire process and having the opportunity to instantly make adjustments rather than dealing with international shipping time and cost,” he noted. “PDR can crank out five prototype iterations in the time it takes to do one anywhere else in the world. Additionally, PDR has relationships with so many global yarn providers and their color cards, creating a one-stop shop for brands looking to advance their knitwear program easily.”

Providing quality yet effortless production is important to Chu, who is able to bring the resources of Pitti Filati to her clientele in Los Angeles. For Chu, this means leading clients through the process of choosing appropriate yarns for each project and dispelling any confusion that could result from the overwhelming issue of having too many options.

“When they come here, with anything that they already have envisioned, I can say, ‘Okay, you have to order this, or that, yarn.’ It’s easier for them to get the yarn. We have about 70 percent of what Pitti Filati has over there. All the major Italian yarn companies are here,” she explained.

At PDR Knitting, the business promotes the quality of local manufacturing yet affords access to global resources. This comprehensive business attitude has allowed Chu to grow from a woman with a few knitting passion projects to a key player in Los Angeles’ local apparel scene.

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