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Behind the brand: Meet the studio manager of Rokit Originals


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Rokit Vintage is one of the country's most well-known vintage clothing brands, having launched back in 1986 with a stall on Camden Market. Fast forward three-and-a-bit decades and Rokit is launching its own collection, Rokit Originals.

We chatted to Rokit Originals studio manager Kathryn Hewitson to find out more about Rokit and the story behind the brand.

Kathryn Hewitson, Studio Manager at Rokit Originals // Image courtesy of Rokit & 3WhiteHats

What is Rokit Originals?

First and foremost, what inspired the Rokit Originals collection? Kathryn explains: "Rokit Originals is about challenging the accepted norms of the fashion industry. Affordable clothing doesn’t have to be made in sweatshops. Sustainable clothing doesn’t have to look like something only your mum would wear. We take a reactive approach to design. Drawing inspiration from emerging trends, our vintage archives and our super-stylish London community.

"We produce what we like when we like, and if it sells then we make more. Simple, right? By sourcing ethically as much as possible and staying in constant conversation with our customers, we can offer directional, quality pieces that won’t break the bank, and limit waste and overproduction in the process."

Getting into the industry...

So, how did Kathryn first get involved with Rokit? "After graduating I spent several years working for small London Fashion Week designers including Meadham Kirchhoff and Ashley Williams. While the freedom and creativity is amazing, I began to feel disconnected from the end product, which was both excruciatingly expensive and was created with no consideration for the devastating impact the fashion industry has on the environment. The more I learned about Rokit Originals, the more it sounded like the perfect solution."

Kathryn has always loved fashion, and her work at Rokit echoes back to her younger years: "Mine is one of those cheesy stories of always knowing I wanted to work in fashion. As a child I was obsessed with drawing and making, and as a teen was constantly customising my clothes - studding and painting on jackets, chopping up t-shirts, making jewellery. Studying fashion design at uni was the next logical step.

"I find it fascinating how the same things I drew inspiration from as a teenager - vintage, subculture and upcycling - are now what I do for a living, only with the refinement of years of experience and an amazing team to help make it happen."

Image courtesy of Rokit & 3WhiteHats

Vintage first...

Rokit has been around for decades and is one of the leading vintage retailers in the UK. So, what is the difference between the Originals collection and the classic vintage pieces?

Kathryn says: "Rokit HQ is a treasure trove of gems from bygone eras, but inevitably there are casualties - the vintage tee with a few too many holes that can be cut around and transformed into one of our Vivienne Corsets, sad looking leather jackets waiting to be turned into your new favourite handbag. 

"Unfortunately, the whole range cannot be made from repurposed vintage, so our approach to newly made pieces is centred around creating the vintage of tomorrow; design-led, quality pieces made in London. We dream of these garments being loved and worn for many years, and one-day coming full circle and passing back through our doors as the vintage of the future."

Image courtesy of Rokit & 3WhiteHats

A 90's vibe...

The collection seems to have a 90s vibe - was this something done purposely, or did it come along organically? "As a vintage company, it’s only natural that much of our inspiration comes from the past," says Kathryn. "The 90s was an amazing decade for alternative culture and the beginning of vintage clothing being adopted into mainstream fashion. Many of the pieces we now associate with the 90s are relics; flared trousers from the 70s; 80s athletic wear such as fleeces, cycling shorts and cropped sweatshirts, and 60s shift dresses to name just a few. At the same time we are just huge fans of the 90s and Y2k aesthetics. Who doesn’t want to look like an emo Naomi Campbell in a band print corset and statement mini skirt?"

Vintage clothing is, of course, a great sustainable way to shop. How important is sustainability to Rokit, and its brand ethos? "It’s so important that the sustainability conversation is growing, but here at Rokit we have been banging on about it since the beginning back in 1986, and recycling and repurposing have always been at the core of our business. Rokit Originals is here to take it to the next level, proving that responsible manufacture and fashion-forward design can, and should, coexist.

"£140 million worth of clothing goes into landfill every year. With our reputation as a vintage leader, we are in an amazing position to help counter this. Every piece of vintage finding a new home is one less garment in landfill, and every new Rokit Originals piece should last far beyond the wear-it-once-and-chuck-it mentality that dominates the high street."

Top picks...

Obviously, we had to ask Kathryn what her top picks are from the collection:

1. "Our Tribal Embroidered Waffles are a super cute transitional piece, perfect to throw in your bag for when the beer garden gets chilly. Being made from vintage thermals updated with a 90s tattoo-inspired graphics, each one is completely unique. I love pairing mine with a satin midi skirt for a girly grunge vibe."

2. "I’m also a big fan of our Siouxsie chokers. A goth and punk classic made from repurposed vintage leather. Spikes are going to be huge after appearing on the catwalk at Gucci and Vetements, so be ahead of the game by pairing Siouxsie with anything and everything in your wardrobe!"

3. "Our tie dye Frilly Baby Tees are super popular among the team. Made from vintage tie-dye t-shirts given a shrunken fit and cute frilly edge, each one is completely unique and it’s so interesting to see which ones different people are drawn to."

Get the look by shopping the full collection here.

Image courtesy of Rokit & 3WhiteHats

Words of wisdom...

Finally, what words of wisdom does she have for students who want to get into the industry? "Don’t be afraid to challenge the conventions of the industry; just because something works a certain way now doesn’t mean it always has to. The new blood coming through have the power to make real change and help create a more sustainable industry (and world). Be passionate, work hard and don’t support fast fashion."

Rokit Originals is available to shop now // Follow them on Instagram @rokitoriginals

For more from our Behind The Brand series, click here.

Lead image courtesy of Rokit and 3WhiteHats

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