Melbourne-based Kiwi Karishma Kasabia has just launched the first collection from her label Khòlò. It features a partnership with Italian-born artist Carmelo Blandino, in which his artwork is brought to life on clothing using 3D sequin and beaded embellishments. Kasabia shared some of the inspiration behind her brand with us.
Tell us about where you’re coming from with your designs. Do they reference any known trends?
When I design, I source inspiration from a range of boards, a lot like Pinterest, but in real life. With a background as a creative director, I'm very comfortable and familiar with the process. I love to start off with looking at artists and their art for inspiration. Florals never leave my mind, especially as it's spring right now and often a cutting of fabric will be the spark for an idea.
I do reference trends, I feel trends are quintessential for moving ahead and act as a signpost to make sure you're with the market, not riding a wave against it. Our primrose yellow Bae dress is the perfect example of this.
Is there a particular market you’re targeting?
Our woman is thoughtful before she buys. She could be a mum who cherishes her evenings out; a passionate Uni student who is a long-time fan of art and fashion; or a woman who loves to step outside of the expectations of black in a corporate bubble and adorn herself in a way that brings the weekends into a Monday morning. She loves low-fi and high-fi, we recently saw a fashion blogger pair one of our $380 dresses with a pair of white kicks and it was perfection.
Whomever she is, our Khòlò woman loves a colourful life and loves the beautiful. Always.
The copy on your website seems to cover more than just clothing. Is there any particular philosophy you’d like to share with customers while you sell to them?
Yes, yes, yes. I'm so glad you asked! We are about caring, inclusivity and goodness. We believe in the whole chain. From me, coming up with an idea, to you, wearing our ideas and to everything in between to make that happen.
How do you think that philosophy complements your commercial activities?
We truly care. Where does the money you spend with Khòlò travel to? What is it going on to create more demand for?
This is to whom most of it goes:
- The youngest of workers in our India team is over 21. The most recent report for them from Sedex showed no overtime.
- We are sourcing hand spun cotton, because it is so much more tactile than mill spun cotton and it's keep a dying tradition alive.
- We try and produce as much Australian made product as is financially viable, because it's keeping the local industry alive.
- I'm concerned about choosing mixed race models, supporting size 16 influencers and making the fashion industry more inclusive.
- Every dollar spent with us, is so much more than buying a garment. It's a whole chain of events.
Your press release says the ‘Breathe’ collection is being released globally. Can you provide more detail on what that means? Are you targeting stockists or will you sell D2C?
We sell globally and provide heavily discounted shipping for our global shoppers, I was so delighted when a bride in London chose our Leela Lehegna ensemble for her wedding dress. Whilst our presence is digitally strong, we are also to be found in stores in Australia such as Design A Space, Think Thornbury, Cecil & Gunn and Monte Establishment. We are definitely ramping up for more local and international stockists as well as a space of our own in 2018. Can't wait.
In your opinion, are you doing anything with Kholo that you’re not seeing other retailers doing?
In 2016, I had a son. I was 30 and suddenly, I'd jumped from a size 14 to a size 16. Suddenly, I felt like I was out of the "designer wear" category. I could find clothes in stores like Zara or Seed or Country Road. But I didn't want that, I wanted fancy! It wasn't fun or colourful enough and it definitely felt mainstream and too trend focused. I love designers and I love supporting them, but suddenly, I couldn't find anything I liked in my size. I had the finances to afford something a lot more delightful, but one size out of the normal spectrum and it was hard to find.
I guess I'd love for retailers to consider larger sizes in their luxe wear and more colour and fun. Black is always nice to have, but colour makes the wearer feel so happy.
What would you like to see more of from Kiwi womenswear companies?
Oooohhhh! To be honest, I get so excited when I come to back to my Auckland. I'm a total sucker for Miss Crabb, Twenty-Seven Names, Karen Walker and Trelise Cooper. I'd love to find a space which collates a lot of underground and independent designers who haven't quite made it yet, I think we all love that kind of a find, that one that says, "I was here way back when!" Kiwis are just the bestest.