Kimos Apparel is a local kimono brand that has its home at 180º SHOP. Its originality and its concern for changing the way fashion is made position it as a unique and unmissable project, related to the vision of 180 GRADOS. To get to know them a little better, we asked their creator, Carolina Rivera, about her path in design, her inspirations and the details of the brand.
180º: How did you get started in design?
CR: I am a graphic designer by profession, but, like most women, I love clothes. I am from Costa Rica and studying design there I realized that in my country there were not many possibilities to dedicate myself to fashion, if I did not want to starve. In 2006 I had the opportunity to go to Barcelona to do a master's degree in Art Direction. At the same school there was a Master's Degree in Fashion Design, which I was curious about all the time. So I decided to change: I did a postgraduate degree in Art Direction and a Master's Degree in Fashion Design.
At first I did very experimental things with two friends. We started our first brand, which was called Sugar Rush, in which we went against all the rules of fashion. We did performance, we played with video art, it was a more artistic thing. The clothes were more for shows, we even dressed Mala Rodríguez for her album at that time.
Four years ago I came to live in Mexico and the brand fell apart. I came here with a hair accessory brand, Banalidades. A year and a half ago I stopped making them, because Kimonos began to absorb my time more.
180º: Why kimonos?
CR: My idea was to make a timeless product that could be used all year round in different places, in the city. Since I am from Costa Rica I always miss the beach a lot. About two years ago I went to spend Christmas there and I started thinking about it. I had a kimono that was vintage—at that time kimonos weren't in fashion yet—and I started to think that it was a very easy garment to wear. I wore it to the beach, then when I came back I also wore it with jeans. I saw a lot of room for the kimono.
180º: How did you start making them?
CR: I started with a version that was much more focused on the beach, more colorful and summery. But then I continued with a slightly more urban line. I make small productions and I change the models every time I produce, which is like every two months. My idea is not to repeat prints, except black and white, which I keep as infallible basics. I do not produce more than eight identical pieces and I distribute those at my points of sale. Some go to Costa Rica, others stay at 180º SHOP, some in Oaxaca and others in Cancún. I try to disperse them as much as possible, as a way to counteract the effects of fast fashion , that everywhere you find someone wearing the same garment. It is part of the added value.
180º: What are your main inspirations?
CR: I get a lot of inspiration from nature, I don't know if it's because of where I come from. If there is a guiding line, it is the organic lines and colors of nature. There are designers that I like, but my inspiration is more internal, I am one of those who prefers not to limit myself too much with designs. I have an idea of colors in my head, but it is more the fabrics and prints that I fall in love with. I take the time for that search, it's what I enjoy the most. Walking into a fabric store is my paradise. It's the moment when I start thinking about how a kimono would look. That's more of the inspiration.
180º: How do you select fabrics?
CR: I try not to go to the more commercial stores in the center. Rather, I like to explore the entire center, I go into small streets. In places where you don't even imagine that they can sell fabrics or that you can get out of there alive. Marketing and walking around downtown is part of what I enjoy.
180º: Do you have any favorite material?
CR: Silk definitely looks great with kimonos. Now I'm working with linen and I love it. For winter kimonos, I call them “ kimo sack”, I use thin wools or thin cashmeres. I like to experiment with fabrics. I play a lot with silks, chiffons, chiffons and thin wools. Since the kimono is a very light garment, they have to be light fabrics, with a lot of drape and movement.
180º: What has it been like to design in Mexico?
CR: Mexico surprised me a lot from the moment I arrived. I went to Barcelona because of a concern for design, but I felt that at some point I always saw the same thing. There is a very developed fashion industry there, but it is also very limited: this is fashion and you don't get away from it. I also remember that at that time everything was black in fashion, which was what we tried to challenge with the first brand I had. We were tired of black, the city seemed like a wake. Part of the charm of Mexico is surprising you at every moment, there are not so many rules, so creativity is much freer. Mexicans have ingenuity in their DNA, which greatly encourages creativity. The Mexican proposals are on par with the European ones. Mexico also has an impressive context of crafts, textiles, and embroidery. That also inspires me.
180º: What are you working on now?
I am producing and launching a new model, since the summer season is coming. I'm experimenting with a new pattern. I'm also making men's robes; Before I only made to order and now I am going to produce more. It happened that with the kimos many men approached me who liked them, so this idea of opening a market for men began to arise. I am interested in making the kimono unisex or so that a man can also wear it.
180º: What are Kimos Apparel's future plans?
CR: I want to continue living from what I do. I like to do a little bit of everything, I am also still in graphic design, as a creative. If I only do one thing, I get bored. Obviously I would like to grow more. When I started I had the opportunity of an investor, but after thinking about it a lot I realized that I wanted to grow organically and have control of what I do. I have no regrets, I have been growing little by little. For me processes are very important. I would like to have other points of sale, beach places. I also want to do something worth doing in Mexico and not something I could do anywhere else in the world; Right now I'm making some samples with some embroiderers in Mérida. I would love to take advantage of the wealth of embroidery and fabrics that the country has. Another thing I would love, later on, is to produce my own textiles.
180º: How is your relationship with 180 GRADOS?
CR: I am very fond of the 180 GRADOS project because it was the first store that gave me the opportunity to believe in my project. Before I had not taken what I wanted to do so seriously for fear of not knowing how I was going to make it or where I was going to sell it. So 180º SHOP was a very important door for me, to continue believing in my project. Plus it couldn't be more local because we are neighbors. 180 GRADOS was an important part of the beginning of Kimos Apparel and the momentum it had.
Finally, here are some of the things that Carolina relates to a kimono:
- History and modernity
Facebook and Instagram: @kimosapparel