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recycled fashion

Here’s a bit of Q&A blog-loving I recently received on the Recycled Fashion blog, accompanied by some photos from a refashioning workshop I held last year for the Whitehouse Institute of Design in support of a fundraising charity event for Prahran Mission – Mission 65.

An interview with The Sustainable Stylist

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Whilst browsing online for refashion workshops, I stumbled upon Kim Kneipp’s website. Kim, aka The Sustainable Stylist, is a sustainable designer, personal stylist and workshop facilitator from Victoria, Australia.

Kim is somewhat of a sustainable stylist guru, offering not only refashioning workshops, but other services including sustainable interior design, ethical shopping excursions, a ‘shop your own wardrobe‘ service, tailored alteration, wardrobe and space design and mental health projects.

Kim spares us some time to answer some questions for Recycled Fashion readers, regarding her work, her history, her values, and her future goals.

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Can you tell us about what you do?

I offer a personalised styling service with a focus on sustainability. Working with a client’s unique body shape and existing wardrobe, I alter, redesign and re-style their garments, offering tips and suggestions for how to maximise their cupboards full of ‘nothing to wear’ whilst flattering and embracing their figure.

I also provide clients with ethical shopping sources and help identify ‘missing link’ garments that can be added to their wardrobe to help broaden their style range. My emphasis is on developing and expressing a client’s enduring personal style, independent from the vices of seasonal trends.

I offer a similar service with space and interiors. Using a client’s existing objects and furnishings, I rearrange them alongside sustainably sourced and repurposed objects to create beautiful, personalised spaces.

On a really good day, I start with pinning and refashioning a client’s wardrobe and finish by rearranging their loungeroom and kitchen wares.

Tell us a little about your background?

I studied fashion at East Sydney Tech and spent the next ten years working in all sorts of roles within the industry, trying to find the little niche where I now belong. I worked in mass market product development, I designed for independent boutiques, I helped other designers launch their own labels, I worked with the Fat crew to create and launch their first in-house label, Prince Billy, I worked in fashion retail, fashion wholesale, and visual merchandising. I moved to Quebec then Montreal and worked in costume design and fashion education and facilitated clothing deconstruction workshops working with groups of people who were experiencing mental health issues.

Your inspiration behind The Sustainable Stylist?

I returned to Melbourne in 2007 with my newborn son Felix and realised I couldn’t go back into the fashion system as I’d known it. I’d spent years working exclusively with second-hand garments and my own frugal approach to fashion purchases felt discordant with the costs I needed to ask to produce my own collections locally and ethically. I was also shocked that after only 3 years away most garment production had gone offshore, local factories were closing down, disposable, ‘fast’ fashion had become common place and the world was going through economic upheaval.

I had spent years supporting nana-fashion and the make, do and mend mentality of the 1940’s by looking stylish on a shoestring – simply altering and refashioning my op-shop purchases. After an influx of requests and enquiries I realised other people were willing and eager to do the same and that given the state of the economy, the timing was right to try to encourage others to slow the frock-up too.

What does the word sustainable mean to you?

Within the context of my business, I use the word sustainable to express our relationship to the earth’s resources and our relationship to self.

I think of sustainability as living within our means and reducing the gap between a ‘need’ and a ‘want’. In a fashion context, I believe we can do this by reducing consumption, understanding our body type, making considered, quality purchases and making our existing clothing work for us.

A sustainable style also includes sustaining ourselves. It encourages accepting and dressing for the body we have today, and allowing our clothing to reflect and compliment our personality and physical essence. A sustainable style embraces the physical, practical, financial and environmental realities of today’s lifestyle

Treading gentle steps on the self on the earth.

Of all the services you currently offer through The Sustainable Stylist, which is most popular?

My shop your own wardrobe package is definitely the most popular!

This is where I turn up at the client’s house and spend around 3-4 hours doing a comprehensive wardrobe blitz – identifying what works and what doesn’t, taking photos of new style combinations and pinning and reworking the garments that aren’t flattering their figures. After this session I follow up with a mini look-book of their new styles and offer style notes on what works best and what’s best to avoid – I try to always explain why styles do and don’t work so that the client can then confidently make their own shopping decisions.

It’s an amazing service to be able to offer, as I am entrusted with the privilege of exploring a client’s sartorial history whilst enhancing their personal style. And I get such great feedback about the compliment and confidence they receive!

What is the future of The Sustainable Stylist?

As the business – and my son – grows, I look forward to exploring and altering more wardrobes whilst expanding our interiors portfolio. I’m excited about setting up a shop front and studio where my team can expand and we can work, play and showcase our services and wares.

 

Someone recently referred to me as a ‘mumpreneur’. As flatteringly daggy as I find this word, I think the same title applies to Erica from Recycled Fashion. A mum with a passion for quality, stylish, recycled wears, Erica keeps a well updated, inspiring blog and is also the co-founder of a collaborative blog called Refashion Co-op – a international site where creative folk can share their reworked op-shop finds. Erica is also one of the intrepid tour guides offering style support through Melbourne Op Shop Tours. Busy lady!

Thanks for the interview Erica, you can read the full blog post and see the photos here.

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