Christian Kimber ‘East Australia Trading Company’ collection + exclusive interview
Fresh from the release of his newest collection (available online) entitled ‘East Australia Trading Company’, I took the time to catch up with Melbourne based designer Christian Kimber for an exclusive interview.
As a generous bonus, Christian also provided me with previews of the new and handsome styles you can obtain online (or in select Henry Bucks retailers).
You held your first pop-up event in Melbourne recently, what was local reception to that like?
It was insane really, it was the second event I have had like this in Melbourne - which ended up mostly attracting a great group of dudes who just like menswear and want to chat about it. Menswear in Melbourne is something that is growing, especially with a younger generation of enthusiasts creating new businesses locally. There seems to be a revolution in Australia spear-headed by a handful of well-dressed dudes. The reception has been wonderful so far - Melbournians celebrate local start-ups and I’ve been very lucky so far.
What are some of your must visit destinations in Melbourne?
Melbourne is a beautiful city with some of the best food and coffee in Australia. From the city, it’s a very short drive to the Yarra Valley wineries. I’ve taken up surfing recently so my most memorable times in Australia have been around the Great Ocean Road. Cafe - located in Collingwood – they serve the best coffee and are really close to my office, I know that seems lazy but I would drive there if needed. As far as food goes there’s a great joint called Brother Burger I’ve been to every week for a month, their specialty is self-explanatory. As for Bars, definitely try out Siglo.
Melbourne has a few killer #menswear temples. Double Monk is a shoe store owned by two good buddies of mine, dudes with considerable skill: one was a brain surgeon; the other a lawyer and I reckon they’ve assembled some of the world’s best footwear in a single place. Sneaker boy are another great joint, and will hopefully be stocking my sneakers sometime in the future.
The guys at P. Johnson are another must stop for me: Tom and Porter (who run the Melbourne outfit) just get it. Then there’s Henry Bucks – the Australian equivalent of Paul Stuart – who are going through a renovation at the moment, definitely Australia’s oldest and most classical men’s outfitter.
You’ve been hard at work on the new collection; tell us about some of the new styles you’ve introduced and what the inspiration for this particular run was.
The new collection includes a couple more tassel loafers, some riffs on classic penny loafers (sans eyelets) and new boots. I’m also looking at launching a sneaker range by March next year which I have been developing for a while, that’s particularly exciting since I’ve always been a huge sneakerhead. I’ll also have some sunglasses and bracelets made in LA by Christmas, so there are a lot of things in the pipeline. We’ve been taking things very slowly initially but we’re starting to pick up momentum.
The inspiration for this collection is the East India Trading Company. I love the idea of the stylish traveling salesman, which is kind of what I felt like when I moved to Australia. The idea of a merchant vessel coming into a town with exotic fabrics, teas etc. which people haven’t before is something I have been interested in for a while. The influence of travel actually extends to our logo, which resembles a colonial goods and cargo seal.
Do you have any rules or tips that you swear by when it comes to clothing?
Fit is the most important thing for me, which I was always weird about as a young chap in the UK. Growing up I was obsessed with clothes and shoes, which was hard on my poor mother. It’s also crucial to develop an understanding of your own style, don’t dress to imitate, just because one dude wears bracelets on his ankle that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to work for you. Menswear is undoubtedly something I’m passionate about, but girls are more important.
If I had to avoid one piece of clothing it’d be white jackets, there’s a great line from Jeeves & Wooster where Stephen Fry assumes the only way a white jacket could make its way into a gentleman’s wardrobe is if “it had been placed there by enemies”. Wear what makes you happy but try not to disappoint Stephen Fry.
To those unfortunate people not yet in the know how would you describe the Christian Kimber brand?
Christian Kimber designs casual footwear and accessories with a neoteric twist. Most of my designs are based on classical construction or historic designs. I design things your grandpa would have worn, but pull them into 2013.