The Designer Of K-Pop’s Favorite Knitwear Brand Doesn’t Even Know How She Was Discovered
How Dainty Knit’s crochet pieces ended up on aespa, SHINee, STAYC, and more idols.
Dainty Knit founder Rebecca says she doesn’t consider herself much of a K-pop listener. But somehow, her knitwear brand has landed on the biggest (and most sartorially influential) K-pop stars, from soloist HyunA and mega groups like NMIXX and XG — and, most recently, aespa’s Karina for her first-ever Converse campaign.
“I feel like I didn’t do anything except exist in Korea,” she tells NYLON. “Korean stylists tend to use a lot of small brands, but people [online] tend to not believe me because there aren’t many other foreigners doing what I’m doing here.” (For the record, she says she still doesn’t know exactly how the stylists discovered her one-woman operation.)
Before moving to Seoul in 2021, Rebecca was selling her handcrafted pieces on Depop and juggling a part-time bartending gig in her hometown of Liverpool, England. “At that moment, I thought, ‘Fuck it, I’ve got nothing to lose,’” she says of launching her storefront, which she filled with delicately woven two-pieces and mini dresses, cat-ear bonnets, and mohair balaclavas — many of which took cues from her childhood spent creating outfits for her Bratz dolls. Within 10 months, she received so many orders that it felt like a sign to pursue designing full-time. Now, Rebecca says she sees her work as a time capsule of her early 20s that anyone can wear (“you can even put your dog in it”).
Ahead, the British creator breaks down how she took her business from Depop to K-pop, finding out about her first celebrity placements from TikTok, and what aspiring designers should know.
On Dressing Emma Chamberlain
“After I started my Instagram six months [after opening my store], Emma Chamberlain’s stylist, Jared Ellner, popped into my DMs. I sent a screenshot to my twin sister, thinking this person was trying to scam me. After we confirmed it was legit, I replied and sold him the piece that was later seen on her. A few months later, I sold another item to an Instagram-famous client. I gained a following from there, which eventually led to K-pop clients.”
On Designing For K-pop Idol Groups
“I don’t realize who [these stylists] are when they reach out, so I never know where it’s going at first. My first major K-pop client was STAYC. I actually didn’t find out until a month later when I made a TikTok, and people started commenting that they saw my pieces on them during a performance. In Korea, if you can get in with one stylist and if they like your products, they’ll recommend you to other stylists.”
On the Struggles of Being an Independent Designer in Korea
“It’s been trial and error for me. When I first started, I received so many orders at once. I didn’t realize I needed processing times, but luckily, my customers understood if my stuff shipped a bit late. These days, I let people know there’s a wait, and I give myself extensions just in case of emergencies.
There's always something to do when you’re just a one-person business. When I have free time, I’ll make and ship orders. I also remember taking months to build my website. While I love what I do, my day-to-day is tedious. It’s also tough to start a business here as a foreigner because you need to deal with the paperwork that comes with it.”
On Advice For Aspiring Designers
“For people starting a brand, I recommend doing your research. Brush up on everything and map out a plan. What’s your aesthetic? Business plan? Before starting a brand, you need to know the identity and who your target customer is. I didn’t think about these things when I started, but I should have, looking back.
Be true to yourself while trying to maintain a unique perspective when designing. Don’t just copy what everyone else is doing because it might get you some short-term attention, but you won’t build a long-lasting customer base doing that. Instead, focus on a niche in the market and find something no one else is doing. Try to be original even with your marketing ideas because I learned how you brand yourself is essential. It’s funny seeing myself as a professional entrepreneur because, most times, I feel like a 25-year-old teenage girl.”
On What’s Next For Dainty Knit
“I don’t know if any of these will happen soon, but I have a few things in mind. First, I would love to hire interns and staff, but so far, it’s been difficult because of the laws in Korea. I’d love to focus on designing and having others help with things like social media. People don’t realize a lot of work goes into small labels, and online, people write mean things about me or the brand. I want to move into a bigger studio space in the next few years. And lastly, I hope to see some of my stuff in magazines!”
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.