Caroline Karro: ambitious minimalist designer
The collections of Caroline Karro reflect the minimalism and pureness which are essential in today’s modern world of fashion. The fashion designer tells that her work would be inconceivable without traveling, doing design research, communicating with clients and understanding their needs. Over the years, the style of the clothes has changed and at the moment the brand Studio Karro, which is based in London, has finally found its voice in the fashion community. For me, it seems that Caroline’s mind is always focused and creating more goals for her future.
Caroline, how did you decide to choose your career as a fashion designer?
I have always had a great interest in fashion since childhood. My grandmother was a seamstress and she used to sew clothes for the neighbourhood as well as our family. So I started designing garments. Later on, my grandmother gave me her old sewing machine, really old manual Singer vintage sewing machine and I used it for good 10 years to do alterations and make some clothes for myself. Sewing and designing were always a very natural part of my life, I never considered it as my hobby or possible career, all I wanted is just to wear clothes that I could not afford at that time or it was not in the shops.
A few years ago you had a blog, which was called “STYLE BY KARRO”. It could be called your first step into the fashion community, blogging and sharing your DIY projects. What has it given to you as a designer, how did you decide to start your blog and what kind of effect does it have to your present?
When I grew up everything was different from the old days, the internet was like a window to the world, for me it was the window to the world of fashion. All those fashion shows, articles, and images were so inspiring and accessible within a click of a mouse! I finally came to the point that I got so into it and I had so many things gathered that I just wanted to share it with others. It was in 2010 when I started my blog and soon after I moved to England, my blog had a decent number of readers and it opened up the doors for me to enter the trade shows, fashion shows and parties where I met lots of people and learned more about the fashion industry. I eventually decided to close down my blog because I did feel that it was not for me and the whole blogger culture was becoming too much mainstream. I also didn’t feel comfortable modelling or even attending shows as a blogger. I always wanted to showcases on the catwalk instead of coming in as a guest but the major reason I closed my blog is that I fully focused on learning and studying fashion, in that time I discovered a whole new part of this industry.
As you mentioned, you decided to go and study abroad, which in this case it was England. What possibilities has this country given to you?
There was a day that I realized that being self-taught in fashion is not going to be enough. I wanted to learn more, I was like a sponge, anything related to fashion was fascinating, I did not even need to learn a thing, I would just remember everything right after I read or done it once. I was eager to be closer to the fashion capitals and I challenged myself to move to England. I was fluent in English and I made good contacts in the industry as well. My passion drove me to perform very well graduating with a First Class degree in Fashion from Coventry University, following the showcase of my collection during Graduate Fashion Week and a feature on British Vogue website. Right after I was also contacted by a stockist from Studio Collections in London.
KARRO A/W16 collection is a really unique work, which catches the attention by its idea of comparing minimalism with the sharp edges of nature. Could you share with our readers what was the concept of this project?
I think neither of my clients nor me enjoys being loud, so I create elegant pieces, usually in a dark palette, also in premium quality materials to inspire women to feel confident and comfortable. Do not get me wrong, classics does not need to be boring, and that is how I come up with some creative details that make my garments so casual at the same time and work appropriate. You will find sharp edges, contemporary cuts and geometrical style-lines quite usual for my designs. That is all a reflection of what I have seen in nature, mostly from my travels in the mainland of China. I always look for interesting shapes, particularly for my A/W 16 I found those shapes in mountains in China. I usually like to overdesign, but during the design development process I always tune the volume down to make it wearable. However, I dream one day to design a collection with all those overdesigned and out-cased ideas just to see how it would look like in life.
After looking at your works and how fast everything is evolving, it is inspiring to see how passionate you are for what you do. What does fashion mean to you?
I never felt that I was working, the day I got my studio I actually felt that I started to live my dream, I felt that finally, everything is leading to the right direction. For the first time in my life, I felt that this is the right thing and that I can now settle down. Even now every day is still exciting for me. Every day I am closed to reveal something hidden in me. I feel that there is something I have to show and create, but I still need time, experience, skills, and a lot more to bring it to live, so this is what really drives me – the curiosity and knowing that there is something that I want to create and even now myself I still don’t know what is going to be the outcome. How exciting it is!
Now your clothes are already labelled as” KARRO” and also you have your studio. When you look from what you started and what you have now what is the biggest difference?
I do really like this question, as I have never thought about it before, but I guess the biggest difference is in me, my attitude towards fashion and what I really worship in it. I feel a huge respect for the fashion craftsmanship now than ever before.
Could you tell us more about the clients who are wearing the clothes that you create?
At the moment I only design for women, but in the future, we will also start to produce menswear designs. Usually, when I design I don’t think about gender at all, I think about the person and its lifestyle. My clients definitely are the people who value fashion craftsmanship and quality prior to quantity. Also, in terms of the design, most my clients are young professionals looking for reinvented contemporary classics.
“Winter 15” as you describe was made smart-casual but still unique and modern for an all-day look. What was the main idea for the collection? Are there particular rules that You use when You just start the creative process?
I wanted to create something for people who are limited at what they wear at work or daily activities. I know they also want to stand out and by standout I mean the small details or outstanding quality, what are not loud but sets you in the right mood. However, I must say that within every season I am getting more adventurous with the shapes and silhouettes and each time when I start to design I will think of a silhouette and how my materials would react to it, how it will drape and how practical it will be.
Travelling is essential for all creatives. You mentioned that you love travelling to China and being inspired by the traditional side of this country and scenery. How does this country effect your work?
I was learning Chinese for a long time. I was studying it myself for many years and I also got a few certificates of spoken Mandarin. I went to China for the first time 3 years ago where I discovered the true beauty and fell in love with the country. I promised to come back and last year I took a road trip deep in China, visiting many cities in the Mainland as well as the famous mountains from the Movie Avatar and many other. I do have many friends in China and Hong Kong that I love spending my time with. I am also inspired by the traditional old history, culture, and costumes, I learned about it a lot from historical Chinese movies that I find inspiring. China it does feel like home to me where I will always have to come back once in a while but in the future, I would love to visit Japan and Korea if I had a chance. Surprisingly a lot of my clients thought I am Chinese before they seen my picture or met me in person.
Could You share on what kind of project you are working at the moment?
We have just finished creative white collar shirts collection that is coming online and in shops soon, the next step is to get ready for a SS17 collaboration collection with Victor Wong luxury sunglasses to put on a catwalk show during London Fashion Week.
Your collection was also presented in the 2015 Graduate Fashion Week in London and featured in the website of Vogue. These are meaningful points in your career as a designer. What are your goals for the future?
My goal is to offer larger collections and include menswear designs. Now that I got my own e-commerce site and we are looking forward to selling directly to consumers as well as engage with our customers. There are some opportunities for us to expand in China in 2017, but we still need to prepare for it and I am very much looking forward to it.