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 
lounge room 
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 
new born
 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 
off shore,
 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
 shoe string
–
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 wardrobepackage 
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 
show case 
our 
services 
and
 wares.




Kim shares images from a workshop held at the Whitehouse Design School earlier this year.

"Headed by stylist Philip Boon, the 3rd year styling students at Whitehouse were contracted by Prahran Mission to put on a charity fundraising event to celebrate their 65th anniversary. Using only donated, second hand pieces and garments found within their Prahran City Mission Op-Shop, the students put on a fantastic catwalk auction event at Red Bennies on Chapel Street. (it was back in June). You can read more about this project here. The first mental health refashioning workshop I had ever run was with Prahran Mission back in 2000, so I was thrilled to be involved! As well running a workshop to show the students how to refashion and rework some of their garments, I was also one of the designers who contributed a garment for the fundraising auction. The photos I've sent through are of me during the workshop, playing with the jacket that I then sent down the catwalk. "

Kim reconstructed a suit jacket into a fabulous dress..












Thank you so much for your time Kim, we wish you every success in your sustainable business.

Photobucket

2 comments:

Mongs said...

this girl is amazing, a suit to dress ? Awesome!

mongs
mythriftycloset.blogspot.com

Wardrobe Stylist said...

I just added this feed to my bookmarks. I have to say, I very much enjoy reading your blogs. Keep it up!

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