After building the knitwear line for Rag & Bone, Emily Diamandis launched Tabula Rasa, a lifestyle brand that brings together a passion for knitwear with a love for beachwear vibes, proving that knits are a seasonless style.
“When I decided to go into fashion, I knew I wanted to stay to the side of fashion that was more about making your own fabrics,” Emily Diamandis says. Now the founder of fashion and lifestyle knitwear brand Tabula Rasa, Emily feels just as passionately about knits as she did at the start of her career. Knitwear goes far beyond your everyday woolen winter necessity—it’s a medium for countless possibilities and a material that isn’t bound by any seasonal or design constraints. Emily values knits for the freedom they allow in her work; not only she create her designs, but she’s creating her fabrics as well.
“Even though it was a long time ago, I just loved what knitwear was and what it does,” she says. “There is such a wide scale of what you can do. I was just very fascinated by it… it’s one of the things that you just don’t stop learning. You don’t get bored. There really is a huge scope in knitwear of what you can do.”
Emily’s affinity for knits brought her to Rag & Bone, where she built the brand’s knitwear line. “That was such a huge job, and it was back in the day that they didn’t have any knitwear, so I really sort of set up the whole department,” she recalls. Her work for Rag & Bone went beyond creating and designing both the men’s and women’s knitwear offerings—Emily dealt with the logistical, business-oriented end as well, managing production and pricing.
“I finally get the point after six years, where I’d done it. [Rag & Bone] was going smoothly and it was less challenging, still really enjoyable but that challenge wasn’t there,” Emily tells. “And I’ve always been someone who really wants to challenge myself. I always put myself in a situation to make things harder again, or just more interesting again. And so it was at that point where I was ready for a new challenge.”
And where do you go after you’ve built up a brand’s entire knitwear line? What is the next challenge? For Emily, the answer was simple: you build a brand. “I could see there was a niche in the market for a knitwear brand that could do something really different, could really push knitwear but also use knitwear as a full collection,” she says.
Emily’s new challenge for herself was just that: a solely knitwear brand that encompassed clothing for all times of the year and home goods. In 2013, Emily founded Tabula Rasa, which for those of you who haven’t studied Latin or philosophy, means “blank slate.”
“It took a while to find a name, because I wanted to make sure there I chose a name that was really related to the core philosophy within the brand, so having a blank slate really came from the idea that we are constantly recreating ourselves and we’re constantly recreating our space,” Emily shares. “There is something so amazing about blank slates in the way that you dress and decorate your home, but also in the way that you live. It’s great to reinvent, it’s great to always feel like there’s opportunity for newness.”
For Emily, yarn is its own blank slate with which she can craft her own fabrics and build unique designs for entirely new styles. “What I like to do is try to invent different stitches, do something different,” she says. “And the only way you can do that is by looking at something that isn’t knitwear and be inspired by it.”
In the same spirit, the brand itself is a blank slate. Unlike joining Rag & Bone to build a line of knits into an existing company, Emily started out Tabula Rasa with no definitions or guidelines. “You have this sudden freedom, you could do anything,” she explains. “No one’s telling what to do, what to design, which is awesome. But it also can be harder in a way, because there are so many different way you can go. It’s endless, and you can get carried away. You have to keep stopping yourself from getting too carried away and make sure it’s all really cohesive. You’ve got to make sure that when you check in, there’s a balance. So you have to check in with yourself a lot more and try to be more disciplined.”
The freedom of a blank slate has allowed Emily a platform to display the breadth of knitwear. Tabula Rasa is a year-round knitwear brand—with sweaters and bikinis. “The breadth of knitwear is what you normally see knitwear, it’s winter and sweaters, that are cozy and warm, your cables and heavy knits,” Emily says. “And then the other part is true resort, and within that collection, we do a crochet bikini and will do our macrame hammocks and we’ll do beach cover-ups and finer clothing. It really is such a great collection to do because I can kind of do all the things I love to do, which is the chunky wool luxy sweater, to these kind of more flamboyant, beachy, warm weather stuff.”
When founding Tabula Rasa, Emily wanted to be sure that her brand could encompass all seasons and show the place of knits throughout. Summertime knits are just as viable as winter essentials, it’s just a matter of using different types of yarns. “I like to do a lot of open stitches, so it’s cosy and light. So it’s the yarn and the stitches that kind of denote what season.” Whereas winter items see a lot of alpaca yarn, wool, and cashmere, summer is all about lighter, more airy fibers, like linens, viscoses and fine cottons.
“I think my vibe is more like I am really into [beachwear],” Emily says. “ I think with clothing, Tabula Rasa isn’t so serious. It’s fashion but it’s not serious. There is this sort of bohemian, sort of traveling feeling. And I’ve always loved that kind of feeling and that kind of clothing. You know so for me, I just like and I’ve been travelling because it is such a big part of what I do. So yeah it’s was always important to have that kind of vibe.”