When I speak to Christian Kimber, he’s still trying to shake off the last of his jet lag. The British-born menswear designer has just returned from a whirlwind trip across Europe and America, researching traditional Italian styling as well as contemporary New York streetwear. This blend of place and identities is essential to understanding Kimber and how he approaches his craft. He’s a designer whose pieces transcend barriers of culture, tradition, and geography via thoughtful meditation on the lineage of men’s style. With the mindfulness of a true devotee of the arts, he reimagines the staples of men’s wardrobes in a manner that befits the modern Australian lifestyle.
When did you get into menswear?
I started working in menswear years ago. I was at university studying business economics. Halfway through I wanted to quit and pursue menswear design, but my Dad didn’t want me to do it – he said, “You’ve started this so you may as well finish it.” So I decided to try and find my own way into menswear. I did six internships in London while I was studying, which is really fun but hard because it’s unpaid. I worked retail, managing menswear stores, then went to Savile Row and did marketing for a small startup. I then went to another startup company called Lodger, which was a luxury shoe brand. Working there gave me the confidence to be like, ‘This is what I want to do.” A lot of my idols went about things their own way – they didn’t necessarily train to be designers.
Do you think that young Australian guys are interested in dressing well, and learning the history of style?
Australians dress for the lifestyle, and what I’m trying to do is bring a little bit of casual luxury to that. If Australians want to wear tailoring, they dress it down a little. I think we’re building our own culture of dressing that’s quite casual and relaxed, and it suits our lifestyle.
Do you think it’s most important for guys to find a style that suits their lifestyles?
That’s what I’m all about. It’s about this casual, relaxed culture and how you can make that a little bit more formal, a little more eccentric, and a little bit more luxury. With what I do, it’s about taking something classic and making them quite casual, with an Australian soul.
You’ve recently designed your own line of sneakers right?
Yeah, this line that I’m about to take to market is called ‘Passport’, it’s based on Byron Bay. I’ve really tried to design with meaning, to do something that’s thoughtful. One of the sneakers for instance, the colourway is the sea, the sand, and the sunset – it’s relevant to Australia.
How important is craftsmanship for you?
It’s incredibly important. People who make these things are artisans. I have a vision of how these things should be made, but at the end of the day I’m not the one making it. The people who do these things should really be celebrated.