Who are you?
Christian Kimber: British designer, living in Melbourne, Australia.
What is your background in the clothing industry and how did you come up with the idea to start Kimber Footwear?
In London I was working across a few different roles in the menswear world, from retail and styling, to PR and production. I started off interning anywhere I could. Following a stint on Savile Row I eventually ended up at a footwear store on Clifford Street. It was there I developed my understanding of footwear production which inspired me to start night school at the London College of Fashion. I had noticed there was a gap in the market - in terms of a good quality mens shoe at a great value price - and set about building the business. I moved to Melbourne a couple of years ago and felt it was the perfect place to launch the brand. I started with a chukka boot and a tassel loafer, both rather versatile, and casual enough to be embraced by the more laid back Australian man. I have more styles in the works; a penny loafer next followed by some sneakers. The reception has been wonderful so far and I’m really excited about the year to come.
Where are your shoes made, and what materials and techniques are used?
My first collection are made in the south of Spain, with Goodyear welted soles, Spanish suedes and a soft insoles to make them feel like sneakers.
What do you think sets Kimber Footwear apart from other makers?
My shoes are designed to be worn both casually and more formally, in versatile styles produced with classic construction techniques. The colours and attention to detail make them unique.
How would you describe your own style?
I wake up every morning and decide what my style will be that day, mostly based on my mood. I’m very much a fan of a younger generation, or new school of classic menswear. I like to mix modern pieces with classic tailoring. Mostly I live in a double-breasted jacket, shirt or polo, high waited trousers or chinos or denim, a knit tie and loafers.
What is your earliest memory related to menswear and style?
Sitting in my father’s dressing room before he went to work each morning when I was very young. He only ever wears classic horse-bit loafers with his tailoring. I remember them all lined up on a rack, all the same style but in different leathers. This really stayed with me. He also used to give me his cashmere double-breasted coat to hang up and brush when he came in the door. From a very young child I was very specific about everything I wore, a weirdo.
What inspires you / How do you find inspiration?
At the moment I find a lot of my friends very inspiring; they all have their own unique understanding of dressing. Most of the industry names I take inspiration from these days are Italian. I find Italians are more relaxed and romantic, compared to the British, who are much more structured in both, and not as afraid of colour.
I look at a lot of old photos. I recently came across some images of the Duke of Winsor gardening in 1955 with Wallis in their house in France. Edward wore flannel trousers and a tie when he is fixing his roses. In another shot he had the smaller blade of this tie tucked into his trousers, just so ahead of his time. I just find myself thinking of all the shoes he might own. I think you need to take elements from the past, but try to create something new from this foundation. Also moving to Melbourne from London, I am very taken with the colours of the Australian outback, I have become obsessed rich burnt orange.
If you had to name one person that influenced on your style, who would that be?
Your “one and the most important advise” for men who want to be well dressed?
First of all, it’s not about spending and nothing to do with rules. The advice I would give is to build a wardrobe over time and discover what works for you. Add a splash of colour when you can. Find a decent tailor and someone who understand footwear and chat with them about what you need. More often than not people who work in this industry as so passionate they would love to talk to you for hours.
At the end of the day, take enjoyment from it. Put something on and don’t spend the day worrying about it. Who cares really, girls are more important.
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