Meet Amy Bland of KIDULT, our new favourite designer who favours cut knees, pogo sticks and Sunny D over ever growing up.
Remember those carefree childhood days, jumping off swings, spinning around on a roundabout in the local playground sucking on sherbet straws and drinking panda pops? So does Amy Bland, creator of our favourite new brand, KIDULT. From furry scarves with googly eyes to comic book-inspired dresses, Amy has captured the fun of childhood in a collection so packed with energy it could rival Sunny Delight.
Completely captivated by her collection and coming over all nostalgic, we sat down with Amy to talk slush puppies, being strange and so-gross-you-love-it style.
Where did you study, what did you gain from the experience?
I studied Fashion Design with Marketing at Northumbria University, which overall is a lot more creative than it sounds, its a bit like a mullet, business in the front party in the back. Like you can do what you want, go wild but you best be backing that up with some figures from Mintel. I learned a lot about who I was as a designer, I remember my first year shirt I did this super minimal, grey thing, which loads of people loved but it wasn’t me. I think I started to work out my style when I was in second year and everything was printed with flies and I thought “this is so gross but I just love it” so I think that was my style then, completely over the top, if you boyfriend saw you wearing it he would be confused kind of style.
Your womenswear line is called KIDULT, can you tell me a bit about the story behind the collection?
It was my final major project and I wasn’t even going to do it! It came to me when I was in London for the summer, I was meant to be going to galleries and getting fabric samples but I was just like going to the zoo and drinking K cider with my mate, Jas. My boyfriend visited me and asked me what I had planned for my collection and I just blurted out the first thing that came to me, which was KIDULT. My childhood was, like most people, one of the most memorable times of my life. I was lucky as a child because my parents were always taking me place and making sure I was never bored. I lived on a great street and po-go sticked until the sunset, and I wanted to create that vibe. Like the cut knees, out of breath, playing out, salt and vinegar crisp and Sunny D kind of vibe.
What are your favourite pieces from the collection?
The Mongolian scarf with eyes! I’m waiting for it to go cold so I can throw that on and catwalk around Barnsley, I love anything that is slightly furry and putting eyes on it made it into a wearable toy, which is just fantastic. I also love my comic book dress, I’m petrified to wear it just because its fragile and I must’ve been on the embroidery machine for the majority of my final year making it.
Your tagline is ‘Growing old is mandatory, but growing up is optional’. What is it about youth and childhood that interests and inspires you so much?
Its so carefree and if you think back to childhood can you ever remember anything bad happening? I remember we used to tie eachother to computer chairs and push eachother down the street and I’m sure someone got injured but its so long ago that I just don’t remember anything being bad about it. I love that the biggest insult you could dish out as a kid was “you stupid idiot” and that your best come back was “I know you are you said you are so what am I?”. I miss that feeling of running so fast in a play area that you couldn’t catch your breath and you seriously had to sit down and have a slushie, and Saturday morning cartoons! Me and my boyfriend find SMTV Live on youtube and watch it while eating breakfast. When your a kid you can wake up and say you’re a horse, gallop around and even eat without your hands and no one is going to say anything because you’re a kid and its just fun innocence. I used to dip sausages and chips in custard and ice cream and no one said a word, if I do that now people look as me like I have committed murder.
Tell us about your design process, what happens between the initial idea and the finished product?
A lot of eating my feelings. No, I’m a massive doodler, so even when products are nearly finished I’ll still be doodling things I find interesting. The good thing about childhood as well is that any museum you go to will have a section on childhood because everyone has experienced it and something somewhere will spark a memory in someone, so I go to a lot of museums, I watch a lot of films, I listen to a lot of music. I still have to same music taste I had when I was a child so I would just whack on some Britney and music will always ignite some memories. I try and completely put myself into my concept. The make process and finalising my product is quite fast for me, I got taught how to make a skirt at Barnsley College when I was 16 and since then its come quite naturally to me. I’m not the tidiest seamstress, but there was always someone there to take my garments off me and help me out.
How would you describe your brand identity?
A crazy, creative, colourful mismatch of clothing designed for the peter pans of the world.
Where do you see your career in ten years time?
I’m terrible at this type of thing because I try not to fantasise about my life because it has so many twists and turns. I’d love to pursue my brand to bring the same feelings I have about my childhood to others. When I was showing at GFW the type of people that were into my work were all so strange like me and the idea of having a brand that dresses those people would be ace. My dream would be to do collaborations with all my favourite cartoons.
What does fashion mean to you? What drew you to the fashion world?
Fashion is just fun to me. There isn’t a singular type of fashion anymore, you can wear what you want, have fun with it. I love how other people dress, some things are completely not my style at all but if they are killing it then its fashion right? I have always loved it though, even when I was going through that awkward emo stage, I was still loving it. I got told so much to not study fashion and once a kid at school laughed at me when I said I was going to do fashion at college. I actually went to college and looked at media studies and stuff like video game design, but I just walked into the fashion department and thought “I don’t think I can do anything else”. My mum has always been clothes obsessed though and we always had fashion magazines around the house so I blame her entirely.
Who is the KIDULT girl, who would you love to see wearing your collections?
The KIDULT girl is fun and carefree, she dresses for herself, she watches cartoons and freaks out every time anything has a marabou feather on it. She doesn’t have to be cool and going out partying, she can be a bit socially awkward or even a complete loner but she knows herself and she is happy. KIDULTS’s girl is very about self awareness and not being scared to be a bit strange and different. She goes on swings and definitely owns bubbles that you used to get in party bags.
You’ve worked at Ashley Williams and House of Holland, how have these experiences shaped you as a designer?
I loved working at both. House of Holland taught me a lot about my organisation and my task handling whereas it was a bit more chill at Ashley, but a lot of my confidence with garment construction came from working with her. Ashley is so lovely, I gave her a Spongebob card when I left. I think that out of both working with her taught me a lot design wise, she knows her style so well and seems to be able to portray any concept with her own style handwriting so well. Although, my friend from House of Holland, actually helped me with KIDULT, I sent him bit of work and he told me what needed looking at. I would tell anyone that is at university to pressure email their favourite brands until the get to go there because working around clothes and designers that you love and that inspires you helps you work on your own style and influences the way you work.
What’s next for KIDULT?
Well I’m currently saving my money up and working on some design pieces for KIDULT, its all just bits at the moment though, like a little secret between me and my Macbook. I’d love to get KIDULT up and running soon, thanks to my Myspace days I feel I know enough about HTML to get a website going so fingers crossed its in the near future!
Fashion design and creative direction: Amy Bland
Photography: Myles Rushforth
Model: Jessica Steele
Words: Laura Isabella