Ejected from her brand Willow two years ago, Kit Willow Podgornik has returned confident and spirited. She has launched her new label, KitX, which keeps to her signature style of tailoring, corsetry and silk drapery. This first collection is representative of Podgornik’s new mission. “I was having conversations with a lot of people who are working with sustainable practices. They were saying that most of the damage done by fashion is in the material, the fabric. So when everything happened I thought, I know what I’m doing next. If I'm coming back it has to have a positive impact,” says Podgornik.
Over the next two years Podgornik researched and travelled to meet with makers in order to consciously source materials and fabrics for a new label.
The KitX collection is striking from afar and beautifully intricate up close. It uses pure materials such as organic cotton, hemp, ethically produced tencel and hand-woven silk. There is a distinct Victorian feel to the collection, in its structure and the use of exquisite fabrics that have been sewn by skilled hands and made to celebrate a women’s figure. Draped jackets come in at the waist and silk blouses sit just below the collarbone.
After more than 10 years designing and creating clothes for women, Podgornik knows how to dress them in a way that complements their shape. “Making clothes that heightens a woman’s experience has always been my major driving force. There is a lot of product in the world and there is a lot of choice,” she says. “So it has to be thoughtful.”
The streamlined KitX corsets are constructed with Italian Lycra made from plastic bags fished out of the sea, and zips are made from recycled bottles. It’s a little hard to believe given the calibre of the garments.
“It costs double the price to use recycled zips, and I wondered why, since they're basically made from rubbish. The maker told me it’s because their units per order are so low. So if more people used these they would become cheaper than plastic ones. They actually look better too.” Also in the collection is leather footwear, accessories and jewellery made out of materials such as reclaimed water-buffalo horn and used bullet casings from Cambodia.
Podgornik is employing sustainable design solutions with integrity in an industry where many address sustainable methods, but few actually practice them. “Everyone has to win,” Podgornik insists. “I want the farmers to win, I want the customer to win because they love the product and it is affordable, I want every person in the process to win. This is what I think success in this industry is.”
KitX will launch its first collection in stores around Australia in July.