Kinobi is a beautifully curated store with a strong ethos, how did it come about?
Kinobi was launched in 2014 to advocate for a slower, more considered take on fashion. I had just moved back to Melbourne after working in London for a few years as a buyer for a high-street retailer. The fast fashion world had showed me a side to the industry that did not sit well with my own values, so I decided to launch Kinobi to create something that did.
The idea of opening a store had been on my mind for nearly ten years. It was something I kept coming back to, so after spending time studying, travelling, working, and falling in and out of love with fashion, I came to the realisation it was something I really did have to try.
How do your personal values shape your business?
Launching a business has helped me solidify my own values, both on a personal and professional level. I’ve realised more than ever that I have strong feelings as to how I want to treat people and things.
First and foremost, respect is my main driver. To me respect is the result of curiosity and a genuine interest in other people, processes, and consequences. I’m endlessly fascinated by what humans can do.
On a practical level this informs how I select products and the way I interact with suppliers, contractors, and of course customers. I believe in being open and engaged, and working with people who have a similar approach.
How would you describe your relationship with fashion/clothing?
It is a true love affair, with all the ups and downs that come with it. I was obsessed with clothing, rather than fashion, from a young age and spent a lot of time dressing up, shopping at op shops, typical stuff. I discovered ‘fashion’ as a pre-teen when I convinced my mum to buy me Vogue one week at the supermarket. This is when the real fascination began.
I suppose now that I’m older and have worked in the industry for some time, I’ve discovered the parts of fashion that I don’t love, as well as defined the parts I love most—and that would probably be clothing. I love garments and all the elements that make them—the fabrics, the finishes, the cuts. I love the craft and the story behind clothing: who made it, how and why, and who will go on to wear it. I also love how intertwined clothing is with our history, identity and progress.
“I prefer not to be a part of the ‘thrill of the new’ that drives the industry. It is very hard to avoid though—even in independent retail the appetite for the new is palpable.”
The Slow Fashion movement means…
It’s about being aware, considered, and discerning in our purchasing and—above all—knowing oneself.
Slow fashion as a movement is one that involves the whole supply chain, through to the retailer and finally the consumer. It’s about everyone having the ability and resources to ask questions, not just about what we are making or buying, but why. This is what we really need to be addressing.
The relationship between aesthetics and ethics is very interesting to me. Just because something has been made in a ‘sustainable’ way doesn’t always mean it will speak to a person, or add value to their life.
I believe garments, like all objects, have a power and magic about them that can enhance our daily lives. To me this equates to items that are both beautiful and functional, because these two ideals work hand in hand. However, they are also subjective and so I believe it’s important to explore and really contemplate what we bring into our lives as individuals. If we do that we will be more likely to look after what we have, and maybe each other too.
On a larger scale, the movement is about creating systems that can support considered production and thoughtful buying decisions. This is something I see growing and gaining momentum. The popularity of brands such as Everlane and Reformation, as well as the work of Stella McCartney at her own label and her influence on the wider Kering group, is really promising.
What is your personal uniform?
It’s really rather boring and practical, but more forgivingly it could be described as minimal or classic. Black pants, white shirts, navy coats and black leather boots are my everyday staples.
How have your attitudes toward fashion changed as you've aged?
When I was younger I saw fashion as an art form and something I could be very creative with; I would experiment to test what I was daring enough to wear outside of my bedroom. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve definitely become more utilitarian and considered in my personal style, and also more pragmatic in my attitude toward the industry.
While I love seeing exciting new collections, often the ones that speak to me most are when a designer evolves themes they have explored over time, hones a craft, or reinterprets an archetype. Fashion is very future-focused and I while I love that this opens up potential for positive change, it also has a downside. I prefer not to be a part of the ‘thrill of the new’ that drives the industry. It is very hard to avoid though—even in independent retail the appetite for the new is palpable.
"First and foremost, respect is my main driver. To me respect is the result of curiosity and a genuine interest in other people, processes, and consequences. I’m endlessly fascinated by what humans can do. On a practical level this informs how I select products and the way I interact with suppliers, contractors, and of course customers. I believe in being open and engaged, and working with people who have a similar approach."
Who / what do you look to for style cues and why?
My go-to style guide is a fantastic book from the 70s called Cheap Chic, which I highly recommend for contemporary women. There are some gems in there, and advice that is still relevant today.
In real life, I always find excellent style inspiration while checking out people at art galleries and museums—women in art know how to dress. Instagram is also a great source; I particularly love Sophie Buhai, Kayten Schmidt and Harry Were.
For personal, business, and lifestyle inspiration, my ultimate is Margaret Howell and the way she champions workmanship, tradition, and classicism, while also remaining utterly modern and relevant. I saw her first public talk at the Victoria and Albert Museum a few years ago, where she was interviewed by another dream woman, Penny Martin of The Gentlewoman. It was brilliant to hear about her journey and how she built a global empire while maintaining the values and vision of her brand. Her dedication and consistency to her style is always inspiring.
Who has impacted your life the most and how so?
I couldn’t choose one ‘who’. Rather, I see my life today as the accumulation of so many different people and places. If I had to choose, I would say the great teachers I have had. There have been many, including my high school English teacher who was by all accounts a grumpy, slightly terrifying Scot disillusioned with the private school system, but who gave me great confidence in my writing and, more importantly, my opinions.
Also, the Fashion Theory teacher I had when I was studying in Paris who, while also brilliant and slightly terrifying, worked for Chanel and Dior as a historian and consultant alongside her academic career. She validated my feeling that fashion is not all frills but also a valid area of enquiry.
What tends to keep you up at night?
I’m actually quite a sound sleeper, but on the rare occasion that I’m kept up it is usually caused by excitement for an upcoming project or reading about something or someone that sparks inspiration. The sense of boundless possibility and optimism of late-night brainstorming—before practicality is considered—is something I try to harness and draw upon in the harsh light of day too.
Is there a garment that has had a special place in your life or is linked to a treasured moment?
Currently, I am revisiting a pair of black nubuck leather ankle boots with a woodstack heel by Rachel Comey that I bought four years ago. They have stayed with me through five house moves including one from the UK to Australia, along with several wardrobe purges. I bought them during my first full time job post-graduation, when I was working at a lovely boutique in Notting Hill. The boots were a huge splurge considering my retail wage, but I had been pining after them for so long and felt they were an important milestone from student to young professional. Now, they remind me of those first months in London walking down Portobello Road to work and wearing boots that spoke to my secret inner hopes and dreams. They still look fantastic too.
What does the outfit in your portrait mean to you?
I really love secondhand clothes shopping, and both the shirt and pants are lucky online finds. The shirt is by one of my favourite designers, Margaret Howell, and was purchased when I was living in London. The pinstripe trousers are by Bassike and were bought when I had just moved back to Melbourne and re-settling into life here. They are both made from really beautiful, natural fabrics which is something I'm always looking for in a garment.
Photography Paddy Macrae
Thanks to Shop Kinobi