Henry Zankov Is Creating a Colorful Future in Knitwear

Henry Zankov

Courtesy Henry Zankov

Henry Zankov is not afraid to brighten things up. In fact, when he set out to create his eponymous ready-to-wear label, it was the whole point. After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, Zankov began his career working with top designers, including Diane Von Furstenberg and Donna Karan. In 2017, he began working with Christopher John Rogers and Tanya Taylor (who told InStyle during Fashion Week that his brand was one she was most excited about), before going out on his own in 2019. 

Designer Henry Zankov
The designer, Henry Zankov.

Courtesy Henry Zankov

Zankov’s line is filled with bright colors, contrasting stripes and geometric shapes. “I started it about three years ago, but I think I was working on it my whole career in a way,” Zankov tells InStyle on a Zoom call from his studio in New York. “I wanted to create knitwear that doesn't look like knitwear in the traditional sense. I've always designed stitches and textiles where I pushed myself to create something interesting and different, not necessarily that looks like a cable knit sweater or waffle knit sweater. My love of color and pattern was calling me to start something new for myself.”

Henry Zankov NYFW Presentation
Henry Zankov's NYFW presentation.

Courtesy Henry Zankov

While the collection is bold, Zankov’s pieces are undeniably wearable. The expertly crafted patterns are made such that they pair well with any wardrobe — even one that’s more muted. A green zig-zag cardigan, for example, might be the standout piece you wear over understated jeans or slouchy cargos. In his Spring/Summer 2023 collection, shown on models gleefully running around outside during a rainy day during New York Fashion Week, the designer introduced a few pieces to partner with his bright knits, including khaki chinos, and an embroidered white cotton button down. His shirts start at around $300 and dresses are priced anywhere from $500 to $650, putting him in a sweet spot for those looking to invest in multifunctional but statement-making pieces.  

“I want to make pieces that you can cherish.”

Henry Zankov Colorblock Knit Dress

Courtesy Henry Zankov

Starting a brand wasn’t just to show off his technical skills, Zankov says. It was also about the opportunity to consider its potential environmental and people impact from the beginning, which the designer sees as both a responsibility and an opportunity to push fashion forward. He is  meticulous about his sourcing, and uses only non-mulesed wool — mulesed wool uses a painful removal technique that some major brands are only beginning to move away from after an animal rights campaign drew attention to the cruelty of the practice. “We work with a factory that my friend owns,” Zankov says. “It's been passed on from generation to generation so we are very aware of the production process.” 

Henry Zankov Pink Knit Outfit

Courtesy Henry Zankov

For some designs, he also works with artisans in New York and France. His fall collection, which is available on Net-a-Porter, was made in collaboration with a women's cooperative based in France. “It's about 18 women, and they farm a specific breed of sheep and make a special heritage wool,” Zankov explains. He’s not just working to make new clothing, but to uplift and help preserve artisan communities around the world. 

For Zankov, the future of fashion includes a better understanding of clothing’s value. “That’s a big part of a sustainable fashion industry — having clothes to hold onto,” he says. “I want to make pieces that you can cherish.”

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