Denim it is probably the one fabric we all wear these days and can happily take us from the cradle to the grave. Weather it is in fashion or out we all still wear it. And for Kelly Harrington of @kellouhar (one of my favourite feeds) is very much the fabric of choice. After leaving Loughborough Uni with a degree in printed textiles Kelly has mostly worked with H&M as a senior print designer, trend forecaster and is their vintage archivist. Here is her inspirational story.
D: The Colour Blue, it is one of the first things I think of when I think of you (not the only first thing of course, we will get to those in a mo ☺). Why the colour blue and do you have a favourite shade?
K: Good question, I get asked this a lot and really I would say that 80 % of my wardrobe is blue! Different Shades of Blue mix & match together perfectly, blue indigo fades and looks better with age and so too does denim. Everyone suits the colour blue. Blue is the colour I feel comfortable in, I guess you could say that the colour blue is my equivalent to some people that only wear black. Picasso had a blue period didn't he!
D: Denim. I love your denim story. Tell us the history of Kelly's love of this magical fabric?
K: I've collected denim for years not consciously but I found that I could never get rid of my teenage denim. Denim is something I've always worn throughout my life and as a Designer & Trend Forecaster I'm constantly looking for new trends. denim is one of those fabrics that I've never got tired of and have always gone back to. Denim is the king of my closet! this humble fabric has graced many cowboys, workers and these days catwalks, we have renewed it time and time again. Denim is worn by everyone around the world, no matter age, style or wealth. Denim is a rebel fabric , it looks just as good dirty as it does new, it flatters everyone. Most of all I love that denim tells a story and every piece of clothing I own tells a story of personal sentimental value.
I'm not a denim purist by any means, I have a fashion background and love all types of denim from vintage, to new, to experimental.
D: For your day job you are a designer, a time traveller and a vintage hoarder. What is it like to juggle all 3?
K: It can be pretty tough to juggle all 3 aspects of my job but I love it and love that everyday is different. I am a creative and a visualist so travelling feeds my mind and excites me. I love discovering a new part of the world I've never been to. I'm forever thankful that my job has taken me to parts of the world I never thought I would have the opportunity to see.
I enjoy rummaging through a flea market at 8am trying to find treasure amongst the trash and equally I like painting and getting messy drawing and designing. Part of my job can be very analytical and requires a tremendous amount of reading.
Some people assume working in the fashion industry is like one big party! However it takes a lot of hard work and dedication and an incredible amount of skilled people.
D: What would you say is the most important advice you would give to an up and coming designer?
K: My best advice would be to never give up on your dream and work hard. Opportunities don't fall in your lap you have to work hard to get them. Always be kind to people and stay humble.
I was shy when I was young and my dad gave me a poem that I've kept since I was about 12, it's called the thinking poem, something I kept on my wall whilst I was studying.
If you think you are beaten, you are,
If you think you dare not, you don't.
If you like to win, but think you can't,
It's almost certain you won't.
If you think you’ll lose, you've lost.
For out of the world we find,
Success begins with a fellows will-
It's all in the state of mind.
If you think you are outclassed, you are.
You've got to think high to rise.
You've got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win the prize.
Life's battles don't always go to the
Stronger or faster person,
But sooner or later the person who wins
is the one who thinks they can.
D: What made you start your insta page? Also your name there Kell I understand, har I get, ou, what does that mean?
K: I got started on Instagram as it was a creative outlet to feed my own personal style and love of denim & indigo. I wanted to share the places I visited and the things I saw. I think of it like my giant online scrapbook and it grew from here onwards. Now I work with photographers to shoot my own looks and work with different brands.
My Instagram name KELLOUHAR stands for Kel - Kelly Lou- Louise ( my middle name ) Har - Harrington.
I did this because apparently there are rather a few Kelly Harrington's in the world.
I've been thinking about changing it what do you think? ….
D: Do you think creativity is in your DNA?
K: Yes I certainly do, my grandad sold and made hats in London's Portobello road and my dad used to be a visual merchandiser in the 70’s. My nan loved dressing up and she used to make her own clothes when she was young when she couldn't afford to buy them. You wouldn't find my nan in a floral dress or pleated skirt she nearly only ever wore trouser suits and dressed like a garçonne with a knotted scarf or string of pearls.
D: Who or what inspires you?
K: So many things inspire me, I love travelling and seeing different parts of the world. Asia has always been an inspiring place for me, especially Japan and Korea. I love the mix of old and new culture. I'm also really passionate about vintage clothing and have found some gems throughout my travels. I love looking to the past to inspire the future.
D: Describe your own personal style.
K: My own style is basically a wardrobe of denim and vintage clothing.
I'm into vintage denim as well as new creative and experimental denim brands especially from Korea and Japan.
I think my style is pretty simple though, my day to day uniform is jeans and a shirt or t shirt, as I feel comfortable. I like to wear a blank canvas for working and travelling. I see denim as a timeless item and an essential part of everyone's wardrobe, however I do have a bit of a crazy side and I'm not afraid to mix it up a bit.
D: I have read that apart from your own job another dream job would be to be a cartoon voiceover. Who is your favourite cartoon character?
K: Yesss , that would be my dream! I love Disneyland and Puro Land in Japan which is for Hello kitty fans. I have a voice that sounds like Minnie Mouse, so naturally I think my favourites are Minnie Mouse & Hello Kitty. Although I did love the Smurfs when I was young and Bart Simpson!
D: East or West?
K: Aahhhh I'm torn! But I think I'm going to have to say East because of my love for Japan. There is just something about that place…..
D: When I took your pictures for the story one of them was on your bike in the house (when my kids were little I used to let then snake-board in the house) is there anything you would have loved to have done as a kid but didn’t get to do and would love to do still?
K: As weird as this sounds I was obsessed with Japan and wanted to live there! So I'd say I'd still love to live in Japan!
D: What's your favourite building?
K: My favourite building in London is Battersea park power station! I also have a thing for brutalist buildings like the south bank centre.
D: What's the best possible thing you could be doing in your jeans right now?
K: Driving through Route 66 in America
D: What's your favourite place to shop?
K: Online store W concept & The Frankie shop, Liberty London, Dover street market. Korean store style nanda & Low classic and Japanese brand Kapital.
D: Favourite object ?
K: My Eames chairs!
D: Tell me something surprising about yourself.
K: I eat a Frys Turkish delight every day! My wardrobe is organised chaos organised in vintage era and colour.
I once held the world record in the under 12s category for most Jaffa cakes eaten in an hour…..
The shorts in the final picture are from Kelly's 1st pair of jeans. And as an extra surprise she can still wear them.
Images 1, 7&8
Dungarees Kapital ( Japanese brand )
T shirt from Splendid La via the Outnet.
Sneakers Converse custom dip dyed
Dotted Denim Jacket from @ntmd made for Kelly
Jeans by Moussy
Shoes Marques Almeida
2 piece workwear set byWeekday stores
Jeans SJYP ( Korean brand ) ,
T shirt Margaret Howell x H&M
Shoes ‘by Mina with you’