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October 18, 2017
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kdon collection at Eco Fashion Week 2010 (Source: ecofashionistas.com).

In an industry that involves a broad range of experience and expertise, the individual who brings innovation to the fashion forefront is king (or queen). How can an emerging designer make their mark among others attempting to do the same? The answer: one must wear many hats to demonstrate their innovation and establish themselves as a force behind different positions in the fashion industry.

Kim Cathers and Haiku Studios
(Photo by Leigh Righton).

Enter Vancouver-based fashion designer Kim Cathers. With more than 15 years of experience in the fashion industry, Cathers does not pigeonhole herself into a single position. She is most known as a designer and finalist on Project Runway Canada, but she also has experience as a model, retail store owner, stylist, textile recycler and environmentalist. Her range of experience and expertise is reflected in her personal style and throughout her kdon line.

Cathers began her work in fashion at age 20, repurposing fabric and old clothing to create innovative pieces under her brand, "ReStyle", which she sold at music festivals and farmers markets. Her current designs are displayed at various fashion shows, including One of a Kind and Eco Fashion Week, and have been featured, accompanied by her with her styling efforts, in publications such as FLARE, The Georgia Straight, BCBusiness, The National Post, and Vancouver is Awesome.

Cathers' natural talents are bolstered with training in technical sewing and pattern making from the Blanche Macdonald Centre of Design, where she graduated in 2005 with the "Innovative Design" award. Fueled by friends and fellow designers, Cathers' workspaces operate as open-doors for shared innovation. Her life as a designer is natural and genuine, rarely distinguishable from her life outside of the design studio. This is reflected in her founding of Haiku Collective, a collaborative effort which brought Cathers and like-minded designers together.

Cathers' approaches her design work through the lens of a stylist. Clothing design allows Cathers to  bring her experience as a stylist - and her own style and interests - to the wardrobes of others, so her talents may be enjoyed by many.

I spoke with Cathers earlier this week about her work and personal style:

DW: As someone who works in design, sales, styling, and many other areas of the fashion industry, how do you delegate which jobs you take on and what to concentrate on?

I usually take jobs and gigs that excite or push me creatively, although sometimes I do things out of my range so I can learn new skills and grow from those experiences.

KC: I like to do many different things in a day, and even more in a month. I usually take jobs and gigs that excite or push me creatively, although sometimes I do things out of my range so I can learn new skills and grow from those experiences. I always design and have a hand pushing the kdon brand forward, no matter what side things are going on.

DW: Have your custom designs changed the way you've work on pieces from your line?

KC: The past couple of seasons I had taken a small step away from the one-of-a-kind pieces and the custom items. While I was able to produce more per year, I am ready to get back to the depth and quality of the hand-made items. This year will be the start of the capsule collection: the best selling items from previous seasons, available with small twists and new colours, and the relaunch of the kdon couture collection - a small army of handmade dresses and gowns, all made by me. This is my true craft, and between the capsule collection and the couture, kdon is going to make a big presentation this spring.

DW: Please describe the styles and techniques reflected in your Spring 2012 line.

KC: The 2012 Spring line has a very feminine feeling with, as usual, the hard edge. As far as colour palette, I am directly referencing my time spent in Berlin this winter. The colours and textures I saw really stuck with me, and right away I knew it was going to be the base of the collection. Grey, muted blue, a sort of dulled sea foam (yes, I said sea foam - just trust me on this one). I will be revisiting my favourite skill of draping. There will be oodles and oodles of one-of-a-kind hand draped dresses... I have been inspired to put my hands directly back into my work.

Aleisha Jones styled by Kim Cathers
(Photo by Kyle Goldie).

DW: What was it like traveling across Europe with Michael Bublé on his promo tour in December 2011?

KC: I was both the stylist and assistant stylist at different times on Bublé's recent European Promo Tour. We did 11 countries in a couple weeks. It was fast, furious, and really a once in a lifetime experience. My role was to pack and carry bags (sorry to disappoint but it wasn't glamorous for me) steam and clean suits, shirts, etc., and whatever other laundry needed to be sent out. I would set up the change room, unpack the makeup kits, hang the clothes, dress him, lint roll, press and primp him to make sure he looked his best when in the public eye, then pack it all up, jump on a jet and do it all the next day. It was an amazing crew: super friendly and warm.

DW: How has traveling as a stylist influenced your designs and ideals for kdon?

KC: Seeing other parts of the world, especially the architecture, has provided huge inspiration. From broken down bathrooms in Berlin to the most exquisite detailing in Paris and Rome, I have gathered colour combinations and finishing ideas.

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