Earlier this year, KitX, the second women’s clothing line from fashion designer Kit Willow appeared in boutiques around Sydney. Now, she’s opened a tangible home for the brand on the corner of Oxford and Hopewell Streets – the latter is where she used to live. “I’ve always admired this 1850s corner building, and never felt it was maximised in its design,” she says. “I wanted to sink my teeth into it.”
The space is just around the corner from her former Willow store (her first label). Willow says staying in Paddington was a conscious decision, because the brand has a strong alignment with what she describes as the Paddington customer. “She’s very fashion savvy, very aware and very discerning.”
For Willow, maintaining the existing beauty of the building was key, a philosophy shared by Melbourne-based architects, March Studio. It stripped back six prior fit-outs to unveil the original shell, “the bones before the design,” says Willow.
A pre-existing upstairs room had the best natural light. The solution? Remove half of its floor to see into the level upstairs. “We brought that room into the ground-level retail space,” Willow says. “So there’s 10-metre-high ceilings and you see the beautiful fig tree outside.” Plants are a theme in-store as well as out, including a 40-year-old, four-metre-high palm tree. There are no cut flowers. “Plants give off oxygen, so they bring fresh air and longevity, rather than something that’s going to get thrown in the bin,” she says.
Like the KitX clothing line, the boutique was designed with environmentally friendly principles in mind. The centrepiece is, “an incredible, artistic, engineering feat of a staircase,” made of sustainable wood with a natural, water-based sealer. It also serves as a display for the KitX shoe range. “So it’s functional, but certainly a sculpture,” Willow says, reflecting the brand’s ethos of, “multi-functional, high-frequency, democratic high design”.
Despite using the original features of a building designed more than a century ago, the store’s overall aesthetic is highly contemporary. Fluorescent bar lights dangle from the ceiling, highlighting a monochrome theme of white brick walls against black metal bars that trail the walls, from which the collection hangs.
Willow’s hometown is Melbourne. If the right space were to cross her path, that would be the next KitX location, though she’s not looking to “churn out” new stores. For now, she says, “this is the flagship we’ll breathe life and energy into.”
Corner of Oxford and Hopewell Streets
(02) 9360 3511
Mon–Wed, Fri 10am–6pm