Catching Up With Christian Kimber

Its been a big year for London born/Melbourne based designer Christian Kimber, and TVG’s been along for most of the ride. We caught up with Christian last time we were in Melbourne for a chat about the year that’s been and what lies ahead. 

Talk us through the construction process for your footwear. What are people buying when they purchase your products?

Earlier last year I travelled across Italy and Spain to source new factories and artisans to create the best sneaker you could imagine, as well as improved goodyear collections and lasts. It’s something that has been on my mind for a while and in June last year I finally decided I’d make the trip to find the best manufacturers in the world who’d help me create the absolute best products. That’s the thing about my process, I don’t just go to a factory and pick out a shoe they specialise in, I work with them to create something from scratch, lasts and all. The sneakers have increased without doubt and in my opinion the quality is matches the best products in market. A lot of the higher end sneaker collections have a very similar construction but I think the value for money are killer in what I have created. The sneakers are actually made by hand with the finest suedes and soles available to me. I’m really proud of how they’ve turned out and love wearing them. 

For me though, it’s about creating a product which is both meaningful in design and unique  in the market. The brand ethos is about where the shoes will take you, what will you do in them. Every pair has a story, every detail has a purpose. 

We caught up in New York at the EIDOS presentation for NYFW. Talk us through your collaboration with EIDOS, how did you come to work with Antonio?

I met Antonio for the first time in Florence, at a trade show. My previous role before taking the C.Kimber collection on full time was as a menswear buyer and I was working with Antonio buying EIDOS for Australia. We seemed to understand each other immediately, we design in a similar way (Although I would note Antonio is the most insanely talented designer I have every met). We are both interested in creating products with integrity, which have a particular inspiration for unique design. Items which are thoughtful, or that cause a memory to submerge. Antonio always says ‘clothing with soul’. This is something I try to bring to everything I do, give it a story, so it was a perfect fit. 

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What did you and Antonio set out to achieve with the collection?

Robert Capa was a Hungarian war photographer who covered five wars and documented the course of World War II in London, North Africa, Italy, the Battle of Normandy and the liberation of Paris before he died in Vietnam. He was also innately stylish, friends of artists and general heroes of society. Antonio’s collection was based on the idea of him in Naples in the 40’s.

I sourced British made waxed canvas in colours like charcoal, army green and brown suedes, we have created something very unique. The first collection was killer. The chukka boot has a waxed canvas backstrap and piping on a new last I developed. The sneaker is handmade near Florence with a hand-cut crepe sole, perhaps my favourite piece of the collection. We created everything from scratch, a lot of work and love went into them as you can imagine. We also created a waxed canvas biker boot – I can’t wait to wear them.

We’re currently working on our next season which is and will be the best thing we’ve done together, I can’t wait to show you!

Explain your design process and how it differs when working with someone like Antonio, as compared to by yourself.

I get an idea and often I get a little carried away into the night, starting with the inspiration and then sketching and translating it to a technical drawing. This is really important as footwear patterns are so precise. The sketches are more just playing with ideas than getting the design perfect and that’s how Antonio and I collaborated.

The collection I have just launched for Christian Kimber is called Passport, with inspiration from my travels, each pair has its own story, for instance a surf trip to Byron Bay. I just showed a collection based on Federation Square in Melbourne which I have just finished. I hope that it makes sense when you see them and the design speaks to you. I want to create thoughtful products, footwear with purpose. 

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Cumulus High Tops

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Steve Calder wearing the Siglo Low Top’s in our Stella Artois Wimbledon style shoot.

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Steve and Christian at the Passport Collection launch party.

Your personal style has evolved quite a bit since we first featured your brand. Why, and where do you think menswear is going?

Perhaps a little. I have always dressed similar to how I do now, but people only ever seemed to see me in tailoring. My lifestyle in Australia is quite relaxed, mostly due to the different climate from London. I surf as much as I can and perhaps its given me a little bit more of a relaxed perspective. Men find it really hard to dress casually with the same elegance. I am interested in the blurred line between menswear, streetwear and workwear. 

What are some of the brands you admire at the moment?

The dudes at EIDOS are killer, there are of course people in this industry I look up to – mostly based in America or Italy, but to me it’s more than just how they dress. A lot of the brands I like are more to do with the people running them. At the moment I am trying to create something quite unique, in the experience and the product, so I try not to look at too many brands to keep my stuff as original as possible. I’m steering away from traditional menswear a lot to more casual collections – I really like Visvim, Engineered Garments, Needles. In saying that, I still love the classics as my foundation. I am also looking at retail concepts more, complete retail experiences like Saturdays NYC, trying to predict the next stage of retailing.

What can we expect from CK for the rest of 2015.

New everything. sneakers and new classics, pop-ups, so many accessories, you’ll see my kit in a lot more stores. New website, a store? We will see. I really appreciate the support for the collections to now, humbled, but we are going to take it to another place. I can’t wait to show you.

Shop Christian’s new Passport Collection at his online store.

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Passport Collection Pop Up in Melbourne.

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James is the Founder and Editor of The Versatile Gent.

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