Kate knew she always wanted to be in fashion and has been sewing ever since she was 14 years old. From gloves to bags and eventually party dresses. At the time she was unsure that fashion could only be a hobby, she went on to study journalism and soon to realise her passion was for design and turned her hobby into a career and studied fashion design at RMIT . Being inspired by the world around her, including the most delicate pieces of lace and embroidery. Taking her creative journey of her own with her passion of lingerie beyond just an idea. Showing practice makes perfect, but industry based knowledge is the golden key.
Why and how I started KAT
I studied fashion design and technology at RMIT in Brunswick for three years. It was the most intense, but amazing course; I learnt so much during my time there.
During the course, we did a unit on lingerie and I instantly fell in love with the concept. For my final assessment, I made a bodysuit, a padded bra and a bralette and it marked really well. With that positive feedback, I started making bralettes at home and posting them on Instagram, and it all sort of grew from there. People started to buy them, and it was really hard to keep up with the demand, as I was hand making everything by myself.
I sort of gave KAT a break and moved to Byron for my first industry job in Menswear design and production. It was from there I learnt the ins and outs of production and manufacturing offshore so I applied everything I had learnt from my first industry job to my own business. This is when I started manufacturing my designs over in China and it's been crazy, but so much fun ever since.
When designing a collection, how do you feel emotionally when creating, and what goes through your mind as a creative?
I am a lover of fine, beautiful fabrics. I can get so inspired by the tiniest bit of vintage lace or a beautiful lace trim so I always start my collection looking at fabrications.
As a creative some weird things excite me. Just recently I went through a basket of laces and ribbons I inherited when my great Aunt passed away and wow was she an amazing embroider- all by hand! Tiny little-embroidered swans, delicate bluebird and the most intricate mini doilies you’ve ever seen. Finding treasures like these really spark the inspiration and my designs sort of evolve from there.
What inspires you?
It’s really important to stay inspired, and hard sometimes to avoid all the other lingerie brands on Instagram and Pinterest. I prefer to stay away from areas like that for research and stick to fabrics and trims as they are the most important part of each design. I get really inspired by beautiful interiors, architecture and, of course, gorgeous fabrics.
Travelling is a big one- I went to India for a few months just after I started KAT and it was actually amazing how inspired I felt. The fabrics over there are gorgeous and a lot were embroidered so it was absolute heaven for me, I had my sketchbook in hand constantly!
What is the process of getting your lingerie manufactured?
I learnt proper sewing techniques at University, (however this does not mean I am good at sewing by any means haha. I am so messy! )
But what I do is sew the samples here in Australia myself, sourcing fabrics from local fabric stores around Melbourne. Then I send my samples and swatches to my factory in China along with the garment specs listing measurements, colours, clasps and sketches. The factory then replicates my sample for me exactly as I’ve informed them, but much neater and from there they send them back to me for approval. If necessary I make any changes and we go from there!
The funny thing about China is though you never know what you’ll get back, so sometimes it might take a couple of tries to get it how you pictured but that’s all part of the process.
What is the process that you are most passionate about, is it the final product or creating a new collection?
I am most passionate about research and designing the new range- which actually is the job I get to spend the least amount of time doing! Time is mostly spent on production, marketing, sales etc.
But I cannot deny that when the new samples come in its super exciting! You get to see your designs really come to life, and the factory finishes the sewing so beautifully, something I could never achieve on my own.
By the time a style is available for sale I am already designing and sampling the next range so I sort of forget about the current styles. It’s so lovely to see the positive feedback from customers and Instagram followers and it reminds me that I should be proud of the pieces I’ve produced so far.
What's next for your label?
I am so excited!! I only quit my full-time job in January 2016 to run KAT full time. (It's been exactly a year now since I launched, and I was excited to see that I can do this full time now, so I thought I better start taking it seriously!)
Anyway, this means I have all my time dedicated to KAT, so you’ll be seeing a lot more new designs, more matching sets, more one-off exclusive pieces and at some point I will be moving into other pieces like nighties and came too.
I’ll be going to China later this year on a big sourcing trip so I’ll be working with more intricate and unique pieces that you hopefully haven’t seen all over the market yet. Exciting things to come so stay tuned :)
I never leave the home with out my…
iPhone (Instagram never sleeps!)
If i could go on a holiday right now i'd go to…
Tote or Clutch?
Heels or Flats?
Sucker for cookies and cream ice-cream!
Special thanks to Kate xxx
Follow her instagram: kat_thelabel
Emerging from Melbourne's performing arts scene in the late 90's, Kitte Cockerell fell into accessory design by chance.
In just a few years the small production line evolved into a thriving business and by 2000. The Richmond studio housed a large team to manage local manufacturing for Australia's largest fashion retailers. Since then Kitte has worked with industry leaders including Sportsgirl, Kookai, Mimco, Witchery, Seed and Forever New and in 2014 launched her own namesake label, Kitte Accoutrement.
Each Kitte collection is timeless and theatrical, offering bespoke pieces of art to be showcased and adored. Kitte finds inspiration in juxtaposition, contrasting the delicate with the tough. She pushes all boundaries to deliver unexpected combinations & textures while proportion & balance underly all her designs.
Since only launching her brand a year ago, it has already been seen on fashionistas such as The Olsen Twins, Jennifer Hawkins, Micah Gianelli, Kate Cebrano, Delta Goodrem and Ruby Rose, Kitte Accoutrement is fast becoming the accessory label to watch.
Design, made to adorn the brave and the audacious.
What made you want to create Kitte Accoutrement?
After designing for many other labels where I needed to create commercial and price driven styles, I was excited about the freedom of designing without limitations or restrictions.
What is it like being an independent Melbourne fashion label ?
Very busy! There is so much to do apart from design. I like to be involved in all aspects of the business so work closely with my team on marketing, social media, sales and branding.
Tell us the design process of creating a necklace or a ring, how do you source the right materials?
There are no strict rules when it comes to my design process. I tend to source materials such as beads, leathers, trims and metal components and combine them together in different ways until I like what I see. Once I’m happy with the initial sample I send to my manufacture offshore to replicate.
How long can it take to create a piece? Ranging from necklaces to bracelets?
It varies depending on the intricacy of a design or how easily my idea comes together.
You have a series of different collections, could you explain a little about each one and the inspiration behind it?
The latest collection, The Ivy, was inspired by the outdoors, nature, twisted vines and overgrown ivy. My childhood was spent growing up in The Dandenong Ranges, with memories of creek walks along mossy ranges. It was a magical time that I now get to revisit with my own children.
For the Insignia range, I wanted to explore alternate forms of adornment and was inspired by military accoutrement and antique furniture trims. Inspiration tends to find me at the most unexpected times and my love of theatrical costumes and vintage finds heavily influence my designs.
Biggest achievement with the brand?
The growth of the brand in such a short time is something i’m really proud of. Also that some really high profile people love wearing the brand too – Delta Goodrem, The Olsen Twins and Micah Gianelli have all been spotted in Kitte Accoutrement!
Advice to all students and people who aspire to get into the industry?
Young people who want to get in to the industry should consider doing a short business/marketing course. Being creative is usually what draws people to the industry, but having these other skills can be really helpful when starting your own label.
Couple of quick Questions! --
Favourite piece you never leave without the house with?
My Chloe perfume
Heels or Flat?
I’m usually in boots with a bit of a heel.
“Usual” day in the office like for you?
Meetings with my team & suppliers, researching new ideas, working on designs and answering emails.
Coffee or Tea?
Milky tea with lots of sugar. I’ve never had a coffee!
If you could have any superpower what would it be ?
The ability to fly.
Your signature look is….
Seventies influenced mixed with a bit of rock n’ roll.
Special thanks to Kitte xxx
Meet Micaela Dietrich. The creative designer behind her latest brand Earnest Nomad. Micaela explains she has had an interesting ride leading so far to where she is today in the fashion world….
Having jumped right into University after completing high school, Micaela studied "Fashion and Textile Merchandising" at RMIT University.
She admits how she wasn't the best student at times. Explaining there were multiple occasions where she felt she could have been more attentive/dedicated, but in saying this Micaela has narrowed that down to maturity and knowing what you want to achieve out of a situation. At the time, she had no clue, it took a while to figure it out!
Her modelling career started when she entered a pageant called "Miss Country Girl Australia" "There is no way in hell I would have predicted that, growing up I would have had a giggle at the idea of a pageant but something intrigued me and I went for it." Says Micaela.
That spark of intrigument lead her to becoming runner up at the Sydney finals which sparked up a bit of attention from modelling agencies.
Shortly after Micaela followed a close friend, who was working as an agent for Giant Management at the time. "My agents were so incredibly supportive and encouraging to work with, I had no clue what I was doing initially but they helped me in the right direction. I will always be thankful to each of them" .
Giant then lead her to sign with Wilhelmina New York, and FM Models London. After a short stint in Singapore, she went on to grace prestigious runways in New York and London for fashion week in 2012.
"THAT was a crazy experience that I will probably never replicate." She says. "I fell in love with New York and returned in 2013, living and working in the city for approximately 6 months"
Micaela spent the majority of her time modelling and finished the trip with an internship at Wholesaler Esquire Footwear on 5th Ave. "I was devastated to have to return home as New York has become a part of me, but it is something I felt I had to do for my future career." She says. "I have been working within the fashion industry since returning home and recently took the plunge with Earnest Nomad."……
What first made you create Earnest Nomad tell us your moment!
Finding a way to make design a part of my everyday life has been a focus, and a challenge, since I was a child. I couldn't survive doing something that didn't satisfy me creatively. …I was actually reading #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso (CEO and Founder of Nasty Gal) when the desire to pursue Earnest Nomad hit. Her attitude and story inspired me greatly, she didn't go to university, didn't come from a wealthy background, she is simply a hard working woman who learnt from every one of her experiences good or bad. The initial concept was for a blog, however I didn't feel that was my true vision or where my skill set lay... The name Earnest Nomad I suppose is a reflection of my experiences through modelling and travel, the combination of the strong influence city/urban life had on me-NYC is my second home, but also my love and longing for open spaces and adventure. Growing up in such a laid back environment close to the beach meant that natural aesthetic was inevitable! I wanted something quite raw yet sophisticated. I would love for women to step outside in an EN jacket or with and EN bag and show the world just how strong they are.
Who is the Earnest Nomad girl?
The Earnest Nomad Woman is anyone she wants to be… Strong but not self-righteous, she attracts attention but does not demand it. Her aesthetic is natural and raw refined with grace, and just the right amount of grit. Every woman deserves luxury that reflects her unique beauty and that was a key focus for me when developing the label. I think it's important to let the customer do the talking and learn what they want from the label instead of dictating. Social media is such a big part of our lives I felt that it was now or never to jump on board. The label was first launched online, allowing it to reach a broader audience and let the customer direct its path.
What’s like being an independent Australian fashion label?
We are very fortunate to live in an amazing country with access to so many incredible resources and influential people. Australia is an exciting place to live and learn no matter what industry you’re in. We may be a few steps behind Paris or New York, but it’s only a few steps. Having that slight separation from the rest of the fashion industry allows true talent to surface. Our country is full of creatives working their asses off to show the rest of the world what we’re capable of, working hard and supporting each other. I think that is one of the most rewarding and exciting aspects of being an Australian in the industry; witnessing incredible people find success by doing what they love.
How did you go about designing your collection along with finding the right leather?
I wanted the pieces to speak to different types of consumer and not limit to one demographic, the product is quite relaxed and on trend but with a sense of luxe. I think it's important to try and place yourself in your clients shoes, what is he/she looking for?The pieces are all 100% leather outer with primarily cotton lining, all jackets are incredibly soft leather and designed to relax with wear. I was quite fortunate to have a very good relationship with my supplier who has guided me to selecting the highest quality. All items are under $350; It's so hard to find affordable luxury these days! Product is either completely over priced restricting the demographic or the quality/design is poor making the item a "run of the mill" scenario.
I wanted to make sure I gave women the chance to stand out and have a true reflection of their style, there is limited product too so most pieces are quite unique. It would be unlikely that you would pass someone on the street wearing the same jacket.
Biggest achievement with the brand?
You know what? I don’t think I have it in me to narrow it down to one thing… I am constantly appreciative of what I have achieved and the support I have received from those around me. Every response I get from our customer gives me the motivation and courage to continue. Knowing that I am inspiring other women and providing them with the luxury they deserve. I would love for women to step outside in an EN jacket or with an EN bag and show the world just how strong they are. Fashion isn’t rocket science but it’s fun. Everyone has a right to express themselves, and if I’m able to assist in that, I consider myself very very lucky.
Advice to all students and people who aspire to get into the design industry?
Reach out to those who have skill sets that you don’t. Someone sitting next to you could be your best asset and trump anything a book or internet site could tell you. We're not super-human, there are going to be things that we don't know. When you combine individuals who excel at what they do…the outcome is incredible. Trust your instincts and hell, just give it a go! You might surprise yourself with what you’re capable of.
Foxy chit chat with Michaela!
Favourite leather item right now?
A classic biker goes a lifetime, I have a weakness for STONE that’s for sure.
Favourite song on the radio right now?
James Bay Let it go
“Usual” day in the office like for you?
Coffee...A lot of coffee
If you could have any superpower what would it be ?
Your signature look is…
It varies depending on my mood and inspiration, usually consisting of texture and a decent amount of black.
Special thanks to Micaela xxx
Emily Abay Photography