Australia keeps delivering on style and sustainability, let us tell you. Our latest fashion crush coming out of the far-off country is Kalaurie – an ethical label run single-handedly by Melbourne-based designer Kalaurie Karl-Crooks. Handcrafting the small-scale collections of made-to-order pieces herself, mainly using biodegradable deadstock fabrics, she’s keeping the process slow and personal.
Aesthetics are feminine and somewhat fairy tale-like – yet with a modern sensibility – and kept to a subtle color scheme of mainly blacks and whites. Classic shirting comes with an air of excitement by the designer’s signature puff sleeves and flounces, and the over-all feel is just divine.
What is the story, concept and idea behind the brand?
– Kalaurie is a womenswear brand that was founded with storytelling, craftsmanship, quality and environmental consciousness holding equal priority. The brand is self-titled, as it is my medium for personal expression. Conceptually, Kalaurie’s collections explore emotion, and personal experiences, whilst diving deeper into external sources of research and inspiration to backup my storytelling. I’m fascinated by history and nostalgia for bygone times, and often make wearables that draw upon my time studying costume design.
In what ways is it an ethical brand, and how do you work with this as well as sustainability in general? Any plans to develop this further in the future?
– Made-to-order and working with deadstock materials are practices that are at the core of the brand ethos. Working from a made-to-order manufacturing model means that only what is needed gets produced; everything has a purpose and an end destination. It also allows me to be resourceful with materials, more responsible with waste, and it eliminates ‘deadstock’, which is a massive issue in the industry.
– Since the beginning of my career in fashion I’ve been passionate about using premium deadstock materials in my collections. Like deadstock clothing, these are materials that are left over and considered undesirable for reasons as basic as not being quite the right color. Ultimately, they can end up in landfill or being destroyed. I’ve always found it really exciting to take what is considered undesirable and give it a new beauty and life. With every collection, I’m using more and more deadstock materials, and my goal is to work exclusively with deadstock fabrics.
– Due to the way I work, my clients are emotionally invested in the pieces they buy, and aren’t likely to ever part with them, or throw them out. I want the people who wear my clothes to have a long-term love affair with their pieces and treat them as heirlooms of affection. In addition to my focus on creating pieces which are of the highest quality, Australian customers can book in repairs to ensure longevity.
“I’ve always found it really exciting to take what is considered undesirable and give it a new beauty and life. With every collection, I’m using more and more deadstock materials, and my goal is to work exclusively with deadstock fabrics.”
Would you care to share your design and production process?
– Creating clothing is like creating art for me – it’s deeply personal, therapeutic and satisfying. More like a fine art practice rather than traditional fashion product development. I’ve always found great pleasure in creating something from start to finish. Therefore, it made sense to keep everything in-house and to only create pieces which I have the capacity and skills to meticulously craft myself.
– At the moment I do almost all the work myself, from designing to pattern-making to grading to cutting and then sewing. Everything is made to order, so I only produce my clients’ orders, along with a set of samples per collection for promotional and creative projects.
What materials do you prefer to work with, and how do you source them?
– I have a preference for fabrics made from natural fibres and that are biodegradable. I adore the stability of woven fabrics. My tastes tend to change depending on my mood, but I always love organic and grainy textures because they evoke something that is primal and raw. Density and sheen are luxurious to me.
– All collections focus heavily on deadstock fabrics which I source through a NZ company that deals exclusively in global premium deadstock textiles. Deadstock trims are harder to find, so I usually pick those up privately directly through factories or other large design houses.
What’s on the horizon for Kalaurie?
– The dream is to set up a curated (gallery-like) boutique and open studio space. As things grow, I’m looking forward to being able to create a team around me. To engage them in a really meaningful business ethos, and help them appreciate the pleasure and importance of craftsmanship.
– But for now, I’ve made some updates to my signature shirting range – all made from 100% deadstock materials and trims. This will go live at the end of this month. I’m also working on a new two-part collection, which I’m about halfway through sampling. I am very excited for what this year has to bring.
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