Designer Profile – Kuwaii

Lilt designer ProfileKuwaii 09

Kuwaii has by far become one of my absolute favourite Australian labels ( I love them so much I asked them to make my bridesmaids dresses). Especially when talking timeless, but interesting classics, Kuwaii knows where it’s at.

Established in 2008, by Melbourne designer Kristy Barber, the label has really carved itself a rather strong following in the Australian fashion scene.

Kuwaii ticks a lot of boxes for me when it comes to choosing, ethical, sustainable and quality garments and footwear.

All pieces are made in Melbourne, and designed to last, usually inspired by things like nature and art instead of fly by fads and trends.

The label takes a minimalist approach to design, but despite the simplicity in styling, garments are still meticulously considered and the smallest details are spared no attention. Take my gorgeous Radian dress seen in a past #liltblogbacktobasics post for example. Simple, elegant, but also very cleverly designed to be versatile, and worn in a few different ways.

There is a lot to admire when you consider Kristy’s vision of creating beautiful, timeless clothing as an alternative to mass-made, poor-quality garments flooding the market.

Kuwaii’s clean lines, impeccable tailoring, quality fabrics and support for local manufacturing will always win over my hard-earned.

Check out the beautiful new Aurora AW/16 Campaign and interview with Designer Kristy Barber below.


Kuwaii 02Kuwaii 01Kuwaii 08Kuwaii 07Kuwaii 06Kuwaii 05Kuwaii 04Kuwaii 03Kristy Barber Kuwaii


Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what led you to launching Kuwaii in 2008?

I studied fashion and won a competition for graduating designers at the time which was help starting a label. That being said I had the concept for Kuwaii brewing for some time before then!

How would you best describe Kuwaii’s aesthetic, and customer?

Aesthetic – refined, simple, useful, modern, timeless, classic

Customer – considered, aware, practical, fun

What inspires your design and creative decisions?

Both our customer and our aesthetic constantly inspire me – but for the narrative source for each collection it can be as varied as plant cells looked at under the microscope or the golden ratio.

What does a typical day at the Kuwaii office entail?

Morning – a walk to the cafe and obligatory coffee. Usually the first hour is spent on emails & catching up on paperwork or meetings. I then catch up with the team and see where we’re at with our projects and planning. Then I always try to get to our creative studio to spend the afternoon working on designs, patternmaking and going through fabrics.

What are 5 essentials in your wardrobe?

Oversized sweater, classic black shoe, jewellery, tailored pant and a positive attitude!

If you could design a product for anyone in the world, who would it be and what would you design?

I used to work for a high-end furniture store so have always wanted to dabble in furniture and homeware design.

What are the top 3 resources that you turn to for inspiration?

time off, research, the internet

What is next for the label?

It’s been such a huge year for us! We’ve gone from one to two stores, from 3 staff to 8…it’s been big! So we are taking some time to enjoy what we’ve built. That being said, we have just launched our new website and our winter collection “Aurora” – it has just started arriving in store in and I’m so excited about it. The colours are stunning (inspired by mountains  glacial landscapes and the colour of the earth and minerals) and the fabrics are just beautiful – we have sourced some really luxurious fibres from Italy, France and NZ.  We just moved to a larger studio/warehouse space last week so there’s lots of settling in to be done! Finally, I’m already underway with Spring Summer 2016 designs! So there’s never a dull moment that’s for sure.

Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to start his or her own business in fashion?

Be prepared to work harder than you could ever have anticipated possible! Be ready to juggle wearing many different hats and don’t give up. Have a strong idea of what you’re point of difference is, stick to that and be sure everything you do fits in with your concept.

What is your favourite place in Melbourne?

The stables where my horse lives 🙂

 (shop the new Aurora AW16 collection here)