KAHLO (founded in early 2011 by Rachelle Sinclair and Fay Ogunbadejo) is fast becoming one of Australia's most coveted labels. Living up to the luxe-for-less love story, KAHLO are already known for their slick, modern staples like cotton shirts and cropped tanks in lush leather without the hair-raising price tag. The lovely ladies behind the brand took some time to chat with me about their F/W12 collection 'Awkward Presence', their love for Patti Smith and what else we can expect from KAHLO in the upcoming months.
B&B: Were you at all surprised by the success of 'A Vacant Canvas'?
Both: (laughs) Yes!
FO: We haven't gotten over it because you probably know we only started in January this year, we shot the lookbook in March and from then it's just literally snowballed.
RS: It's been such a whirlwind for the both of us.
B&B: How has the reaction over in the States been? I've seen a few American bloggers repping the label!
RS: We've been very fortunate to be on some of the top blogs and we've even been in a few magazines overseas so that's incredible for us considering that at that stage it was only our first collection.
FO: And it wasn't even in store! (both laugh) Fingers crossed we'll have the full collection in the States early next year.
B&B: 'Awkward Presence' possesses quite an androgynous tone, moreso than your first collection. What do you think is most captivating about a girl who carries a boyish charm or style?
RS: I think the character that we built around this collection is such an intriguing individual but she knows who she is and she's this smoking hot girl but with that tomboyish element.
FO: And she's somebody who's not scared of dressing for herself. She doesn't feel like she has to wear short skirts all the time and she's comfortable wearing things that genuinely make her feel comfortable.
B&B: Patti Smith has had a phenomenal influence on the fashion industry and is celebrated for her androgynous quality. In what ways has her personal style influenced your designs?
RS: We love Patti Smith. She's such an interesting character. Patti herself is timeless. We derived a lot of the inspiration from her memoir "Just Kids" so it's all about her and her then-lover Robert Mapplethorpe and their encounters of New York City, the people they deal with and the art scene. She wanted to stand out and be androgynous but she did it for herself not for anyone else and thats what we love because as you know we like to design for ourselves.
B&B: Rachel Rutt seems perfect for the campaign. Was she an easy choice?
FO: Yeah, we've always loved Rachel. I think because we used Anja for our first campaign it was really nice to have a complete polar contrast. We just felt that she was the perfect fit for this particular collection. I think she worked really well. We did have some feedback on a blog, though, that said "love the clothes but the model looks really sad". That was the idea! We weren't going to have her smiling and laughing and being happy.
RS: Especially because this collection is slightly darker than the last. Being Fall/Winter it fits the aesthetic perfectly.
B&B: Obviously social networking and blogging has had a significant impact upon the fashion industry over the last few years. How much of the label's success would you attribute to the social networking realm?
FO: A lot, really. When we started the label we decided that we weren't going to have a Facebook page or Twitter. We wanted to keep it really underground. And then we realised you really need to reach those people and have a strong online presence. A website nowadays is just not enough, neither is word of mouth. It plays a huge part because it means you can reach people instantly and get instant feedback.
B&B: This is only your second season, yet you already seem so accomplished and solid. What's on the cards for KAHLO in 2012?
RS: World domination! (laughs) We really just want to focus on building our brand here [in Australia] and getting great publicity, both print and online, and getting a few additional stockists. Last season we had 2 stockists and now for Fall/Winter we'll have 8 really good stockists. Then focus on getting the brand over to the USA which I think will be quite a challenge within itself; just aiming to never stop improving and growing.
Saying "watch this space" would be a little belated. These girls are already on fire and I think domination is certainly in the wings (I speak on behalf of my wardrobe for starters)! Can't wait to slip into the Mr Bard leather tank I have on pre-order!
'Awkward Presence' will be available from March 2012 from selected stockists here.