If Christian Kimber came with a tagline, it would be “redefining modern Australian menswear”. Just a year shy from his 10-year work-versary, there’s no question that the British-born designer is doing just that.
Having studied at the Queen Mary University of London and the London College of Fashion, Kimber first cut his teeth on the fashion industry working as a footwear designer, producing casual, yet elegant sneakers and boots for the discerning gentleman.
Upon relocating to Australia in 2011, Kimber observed a lack of local menswear designers creating clothing suited to the Australian lifestyle and climate; a grey area between the boardshorts and t-shirt culture, and the suited-up professional. When compared to the designer’s British roots, Kimber said the biggest difference comes down to formality.
“In my opinion, Australian style is about dressing casual up, whereas in the UK it’s about dressing formality down,” he said, “This probably harks back to aristocratic tradition in England, versus working-class culture in Australia.”
In my opinion, Australian style is about dressing casual up, whereas in the UK it’s about dressing formality down.
Determined to offer a point of difference, Kimber launched his first footwear collection. In 2016, Kimber collaborated with Harrolds to produce an exclusive-to-Harrolds collection of dress shoes and sneakers, marrying high-fashion design and artisan elegance, with a more accessible price point.
Making the transition into ready-to-wear, Christian Kimber exists today to address this grey area. In March last year, the designer was recognised for his efforts and was awarded Australia’s National Designer Award at the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival (VAMFF). Based in Melbourne, the namesake label produces contemporary, trans-seasonal and comfortable everyday wear and tailoring.
Our customers tend to be inner-city professionals who want to dress in a way that sits between casual and formal. Often they are from creative industries and want to look elegant without having to wear a suit.
Drawing on personal experiences, the designer’s latest Resort collection was inspired by a recent summer vacation he spent with his wife Renuka in Sardinia, a sandy island in the Mediterranean. As a result, garments are functional, durable and breathable.
Taking a hands-on approach, Kimber is actively involved in the entire design process, working closely with mills and manufacturers in Europe and Japan to develop bespoke garments from sustainably sourced and recycled fabrics, such as the Terrazzo sneaker, which is made using 100 percent recycled rubber soles.
Sustainability is no longer a trend in the industry, it’s essential.
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“Markers and customers alike have started to wake up to the potentially detrimental environment and social impact of retail and are demanding change at the till.”
Kimber’s commitment to making what he calls “happy clothing” is further exemplified through the label’s signature garment-dyeing process, where garments are washed and dyed after the production process, as opposed to designing with pre-dyed fabric. As a result, garments are softer, have a worn-in feel and are more durable. It also reduces waste.
For the average Australian gentleman, shopping is a deeply personal experience that needs to be practical and uncomplicated. Despite its challenges, Kimber says once men try on and feel the garments, they immediately understand the difference in quality when compared to mass-made fashion.
“They can see the detail in the stitching and buttons, the texture of the fabric and see how much of a difference the right fit can make to a look.”
Working closely with clients, Kimber spends time understanding the gaps in their wardrobe and filling them appropriately. Whether it be a failsafe pair of quality pants or a versatile shirt that can be worn from work to weekend, Christian Kimber designs are created to be layered-up and accessorised with both tailoring and casual wear to achieve that happy medium of casual, yet elegant.
“What’s been particularly exciting over the past year now that we offer clothing, accessories and footwear, is watching customers put an outfit together head to toe.”
Harrolds is the exclusive wholesale partner of Christian Kimber. Discover SS20 in Harrolds Melbourne and Sydney now.