Once upon a time...
I made my first garment at the age of 7, on the grass in my back yard in North London. It was a green halter neck top. I couldn't understand why it gaped widely under each armpit, so I used sellotape to preserve my modesty! Though I sewed my green halter-neck by hand, I also had a little toy sewing machine, a little like this one below. My joy at possessing it was brutally cut down one day when my younger brother (engineer that he was), learned how to use the machine's screwdriver, and painstakingly dismantled the entire machine into a pile of small parts.
I grew up with a black and gold singer sewing machine in the house, and from an early age, watched fabric come to life in my Mother's hands and transform into 3d clothes worn by my siblings and I.
I have a deep love for creating clothing. It came and went over the years. At 19, I made and sold clothes to my friends. I studied fashion design and took fashion drawing classes at London's Central St Martin's School of Art, however, I chose the predictability and dependability of corporate retail, immersing my geekish side into a function called merchandising (profits, forecasting and analysis of inventory data).
I left corporate retail behind just before starting my family, hoping to change course, and do more with my life to impact and improve the lives of others.
My life took an unpredictable turn one day Having set out on the school run, I had no idea that upon my return to the house a short while later, that, I would learn, out of the blue, that I had gone from married family life to single parenthood. This marked the start of my journey of recovery and re-discovery.
KAIA Clothing represents a return to one of my earliest passions; designing and making clothes. This journey has also re-connected me to my earlier desire to impact the lives of others, in particular, vulnerable women and children. The name KAIA (pronounced kye-ah) is made up of the initials of myself and my son.
The world is very different now to when I made my first halter neck top, and by now, many of us are discovering the awful truth about the fashion industry:
One wash-load of polyester clothes can release 700,000 microplastic fibres into the environment.
It is estimated that half a million tonnes of these microfibres end up in the sea each year.
Polyester, made from fossil fuels, is non-biodegradable.
Microfibres from synthetics are a major contributor to microplastic pollution – a 2019 Bangor University survey of UK rivers, reservoirs and lakes found micro-plastic pollution at all locations tested.
According to the Pulse of Fashion report in 2015 the industry was responsible for 1,715 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.
The UN states that the fashion industry consumes more energy than the aviation and shipping industry combined. The Pulse report forecast fashion emissions to grow by 63% by 2030.
According to the 2017 Wrap report, the average water footprint for a kilo of cotton (equivalent to pair of jeans and a shirt) is 10,000-20,000 litres. India and Pakistan are major suppliers of cotton to the UK, but both countries suffer from high levels of water scarcity.
KAIA Clothing is a sustainable clothing brand that offers relaxed and elegant designs in beautiful and sustainable fabrics, including GOTS certified organic jersey bamboo, 100% artisan linen made by members of the Linen Guild, Organic rubber, and cotton elastic.
There was no other option for me, than to make sustainable and planet-friendly choices for the KAIA brand. This video shows why we should all care about the true cost of clothing;
Mostly, women's clothing is secured around our waists, which requires an exact fit.
Being fitted at the waist means that other ratios such as waist to crotch, and upper and lower hip measurements must also be calculated.
The more exacting the measurements in the design, the higher likelihood that it just won't fit some people.
Most items are returned due to poor fit and the return journey increases the carbon footprint of that garment by at least 100%
I bear this in mind when designing KAIA Clothing, often designing from the shoulder, as the hanging point of the garment.
I also design in order to maximise self-fastening of the garment where possible, eliminating the need for synthetic zips and fasters, which in turn, brings down the carbon footprint of the garment.
Look Good, Do Good
Giving is built into the KAIA Clothing business model from the outset in the form of support for women and children, that are affected by domestic abuse.
In 2020, UK Police forces recorded more than a quarter of a million offences flagged as domestic abuse-related from April to June, the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
KAIA Clothing sets the goal of donating 10% of each purchase to a nominated local domestic abuse charity, Eve, that supports women impacted by domestic abuse.