Tuesday, 9 February 2016

INTERVIEW | KELLY-LEE WRIGHT OF FEATHER DRUM








While the number of childrenswear brands seems to have exploded in recent years - there aren’t many that beat to their own drum. Enter Feather Drum, the label created by Kelly-Lee Wright, a former corporate lawyer turned clothing designer. After looking at some bohemian-inspired fashion pieces at the Laneway Festival she told her partner that she wished she could dress her daughter in similar clothes. “I saw a gap in the market as I couldn’t buy it for my own daughter and I knew I wasn’t alone,” Kelly-Lee says. That idea saw her launch her first collection, Dream Seeker in August 2014. Fast forward a year and a half later, and the label is stocked across Australia and in the USA, France, Japan and South Korea. “I’m designing new styles all the time, experimenting with new fabrications - in particular organic and more sustainable fabrics - and looking to expand into other areas I’ve not yet touched,” she says, “which you will just have to wait and see!”

Above is a sneak peek at the upcoming AW16 campaign, shot by The Descendants. Below is the current collection, photographed by Jenna Agius.

As part of Feather Drum’s growth, Kelly-Lee is about to exhibit at Life Instyle in Sydney. Register now to attend the upcoming event that explores Happiness By Design. The trade event runs 18-21 February at the Royal Hall of Industries and Hordern Pavilion.

This post was sponsored by Life Instyle, an event I have attended many times over the years. All editorial content was produced independently. Thank you for supporting businesses that help to make this site possible. - NW 

What was behind the decision to start your brand? When my daughter was born it was difficult to buy anything for her that wasn’t powder blue or pink, twee, kitsch or splashed in cartoon characters. Clothing with a distinct bohemian flair in rich earthy tones, colours and textures just weren’t available, so I sat down and designed them myself. 

What had you been doing previously? I worked as a corporate lawyer in Sydney. I’d previously been a lawyer for 10 years back in London before I moved to Australia in 2010.

What is important to you when designing children's clothes? Ensuring I’m offering something innovative, good quality - I like to use natural fabrics that are wearable, washable and gentle on our kids’ skin - and, of course, functional. 

How do you try to differentiate your products from others on the market? A great deal of thought and care is put into presenting a collection that stands out from the crowd and presents a cohesive story. All Feather Drum prints are original custom designed from scratch. Each style undergoes several fitting sessions so the pattern is exact. I design from the heart and apply colour palettes that I love, rather than follow current trends.   

What has been completely unexpected since starting your business? The honest answer is the volume of work and just how incredibly difficult manufacturing is. If anyone considers this an easy way to make a living, it’s not - and that comes from a former corporate lawyer used to working 60 hours per week!

What is something that people often don't realise about your wares? Many people don’t realise we do boys clothing too. Clearly that’s an area I have to work on. And also that we cover the “tween” market.

Where do you look to for design inspiration? I get inspired by a lot of things, particularly nature, different cultures and fashions from a different age. I love vintage clothing and how well made it is compared to the throwaway fashion that we have today. The 70s have been a huge influence on my collections to date and I’ve tried to channel the floaty bohemia vibes reminiscent of Woodstock into my designs. The values transcending from our “hippie free people” back then are definitely ones that I believe should be instilled in our children - peace, love, happiness and respect for the planet.  

What do consider when dressing or styling children? Obviously that they look stylish, but it’s also fundamental that they feel comfortable, that they’re not going to be too warm or too cold, and can move freely. I want children to feel genuinely happy in the outfit they are wearing.

What role do you want your products to play in a childhood? As an adult I can look back to my childhood and remember my favourite pieces of clothing as a child, with the fondest of memories and attachment. It would be amazing to think that there are some children out there that will grow up having those same feelings and memories about a garment I designed. I have a lot of customers who order pieces in especially for family portraits which are being taken. It’s nice to know my clothing is being captured in so many family photographs that will transcend the generations.

What was the last great children's book that you read? I’ve just introduced my three-year-old daughter to the wonderful Roald Dahl. At the moment we're reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and she loves it just as much as I did, and still do. 





images courtesy of feather drum


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