Tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Kaitlyn Bartlett, I’m 23 years old and live in Dundee, Scotland. I currently run Klash Fashion full time whilst also working as a sewing teacher at Andie Sewing School, teaching kids how to sew.
I graduated with a degree in textile design from Duncan of Jordanstone School of Art and Design in 2019 and since then I’ve worked on developing my business. It isn’t until recently I began to dedicate my full attention to my business and I’m loving every minute of it!
What first sparked your interest in fashion?
I’ve always been a creative person. Art is where I found my voice. I was taught how to sew by a family friend when I was around 17 years old and that’s when my interest in fashion really began. The thought of being able to create my own clothing from scratch excited me so much, and still does! I then delved deeper into fashion when I chose to specialise in textile design at university. I learned about different dyeing processes and techniques, mark making, sustainability and so much more.
What are 3 words you’d use to describe your design style?
Quirky, fun, bold!
Art is where I found my voice.
How did Klashfash come to be?
So around March last year is really when I decided to commit to developing and creating a fashion brand. Whilst working full time during the pandemic, any spare time was spent working on developing Klash Fashion. I feel like I dedicated so much time and effort to developing my brand as a way to cope with the stress that lockdown brought. Although we had to stay in doors, I was never bored as I chose to spend my spare time working on the brand. I’ve always wanted to work for myself and I’ve always dreamed of having a creative job, so I decided to make my own!
What inspires your designs?
I take inspiration from so many things, however, a few recurring inspirations of mine that are always seen in any klash piece include the 60’s & 70’s era, Mary Quant and bright colours! Because I use my creativity as an outlet, it’s where I really explore colour, patterns and just have fun. Fashion in these eras always catches my attention, I love watching music videos, researching fashion shows and what was trending at the time. Something about those decades just excites me. I always ask for feedback from my online audience too which is amazing as I love involving them in the design process.
I always ask for feedback from my online audience too which is amazing as I love involving them in the design process.
As female empowerment is important to you, how do you incorporate this into your design process?
This year I created a collection that was based on life drawings I had done of various shapes and sizes of women’s bodies. This was to empower women and emphasise just how beautiful our shapes truly are. I also focus on clothing that is bold and stands out therefore allowing the customer to stand out from the crowd with the aim of improving self confidence.
I also focus on clothing that is bold and stands out therefore allowing the customer to stand out from the crowd with the aim of improving self confidence.
As a woman do you believe that the fashion industry is a major contributor in affecting women’s mental health?
Yes 100%. In the world that we live in, women have been programmed, even from childhood, to look, act, think and feel a certain way that does a great job in making us doubt ourselves, think ourselves as unworthy and therefore we have grown up constantly searching for ways to ‘become worthy’. This is seen all over the fashion industry. It’s been designed in a way that does anything but empower women from the big fast fashion brands treating their workers unfairly to the models on the covers of fashion magazines being scrutinised about their weight, looks and so on. Fashion, like many other industries, is designed in a way to exploit and take advantage of women’s poor mental health and the issues that follow with it. I know I’m only a small fashion brand, but I hold great ideas for change and aim to do my best in helping women from all walks of life.
I know I’m only a small fashion brand, but I hold great ideas for change and aim to do my best in helping women from all walks of life.
As a designer what ways have you thought about this while creating new products?
I’ve thought about it when searching for models, I am still working on being more diverse when doing photo shoots as I believe it’s important to show different women so that everyone feels included. I create for comfort mainly and I aim to inject fun into fashion. Life is always so serious and I want my fashion to embrace a happy, carefree vibe.
Do you think that social media is a good resource to unite women?
Yes definitely! If used the right way. I’m guilty of comparing my brand or myself to others on social media, but if we make a conscious effort to use it for good I truly believe we can. It’s helped me meet and connect with so many amazing people.
What struggles have you faced with mental health that have been improved by creating?
I’ve suffered from severe anxiety and depression since I was a teenager. However creativity has always provided a great level of comfort and headspace for me. It allows me to zone out of reality, spend time in my head and just let thoughts float in and out, almost like a type of meditation. I love being creative.
Have you got any advice for fellow creatives that are struggling to create due to their mental health?
Make your mental health a priority always and never ever feel guilty for putting yourself first. This was a game changer for me. Also journal as often as you can, it’s a great way to ‘empty’ your brain and understand what thoughts you’re having. It’s also a great way to reflect and get to know yourself.
As the COVID-19 Pandemic has been a big contributor to increasing problems with mental health, what aided you through tough times?
Focusing on doing what I love and keeping in touch with friends on social media and really creating a community of kindness. These things helped me feel connected and like I was never alone which was lovely. I think if you have a passion, it always carries you through the tough times!
What are your top 3 methods/tips for staying motivated?
Reflect back to where you were a week/month/year ago and celebrate your progress no matter how big or small. Also, have a conversation with someone about your passion. I feel like this allows you to get really excited about your passion again and really helps boost motivation. Lastly, journal on what you’re proud of yourself for. Big yourself up!
celebrate your progress no matter how big or small
Where would you like Klashfash to be in the next coming years? What is the main goal?
So I’m about to start working in schools and community centres teaching sewing workshops which is exciting. I want to focus on helping the younger generation of females, those who may feel like they are missing out and really help them grow their confidence at a young age so that it can only flourish as they get older.
I aim to create jobs for other creatives local to Dundee, I’d love to expand my team in the next few years.
I want to collaborate with more brands that I love and really establish my brand name across the UK!
Who are your favourite feminist icons?
Mary Quant, Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis, Florence Given
If you weren’t doing Klashfash what would you be doing?
Probably trying to get into the creative industry in Dundee. Although it’s small, it’s amazing and there are so many empowering female-led fashion brands that have done nothing but inspire me! Brands like Isolated Heroes, Dreamland Clothing and Hayley Scanlan are all huge inspirations of mine.
What is a motto/saying you live by?
Do what makes you feel good! I try to take it as literally as I can.