Last April, during the Amsterdam Denim Days, we finally got to meet Kelly Harrington.
We had been following her online denim journey for a while and we were intrigued to see how she is in real life. Turned out she is full of energy and excited about all things blue.
Could you introduce yourself?
I’m Kelly Harrington and I am a self-confessed denim hoarder. I graduated from Loughborough University with a degree in printed textiles in 2001. After graduating I worked as a freelance print designer and then for Swedish fashion chain H&M.
I have worked in the fashion industry for 15 years. My job has involved many aspects some including designing, trend forecasting and setting up an inspirational vintage archive, training new print designers. You can often find me scouring vintage shops and flea markets around the world as well as attending trade fairs and analyzing street style.
I currently fused my passion for denim and creative skill set to create an online social project where I having a growing social media presence.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
From many sources, inspiration from style icons from past and present. I love to travel, so travelling feeds my mind with inspiration, attending exhibitions, going to trade fairs, I have a particular fascination with street style and the music industry, which plays an important part in fashion.
One of my favorite places to be is Japan. It’s like stepping into another world, I love people watching and I am amazed with the culture. I love the mix of old and new traditions. I’m particularly fascinated with the Japanese indigo dying technique Shibori and the mending technique Boro.
How would you describe your personal style?
As a part of my job role I am constantly searching for the ‘new trend’ so I choose to wear clothes that are timeless. That’s why I love denim; denim never really goes out of style, old, vintage, new, distressed. I have a real passion for it.
My everyday style is pretty simple, my day to day uniform is man style shirting and jeans and I like to be comfortable. I hardly wear print or pattern because I design it! I also love to wear Marques Almeida and Korean brand SJYP.
How important is denim in your life?
Denim has always been in my life, from my teenage years until now. Denim has always been a part of my wardrobe and I would say I wear it 90% of the time. I like that denim is timeless and it has become my go to product.
I remember I begged my parents to buy me a Levis trucker jacket for my birthday when I was about 17! To this day I still wear that jacket and love it the older it gets. I’ve kept all my old denim I find clothing has a strong sentimental value for me.
What’s your relationship with vintage clothing?
I love vintage clothing as a whole, I am very nostalgic. I like clothing that tells a story and my passion for it started when I first entered the fashion industry. I couldn’t afford designer brands and so vintage clothing was a way I could express my love for fashion and my individuality.
These days I collect vintage not only to wear for myself in my personal wardrobe but for the in-house vintage archive at H&M. This is used to inspire the teams.
I collect a lot of vintage on my travels; you’ll often find me scouring vintage shops and flea markets around the world trying to find my next bargain. The Rose Bowl flea market in LA is my favurite, I like the fact it feels like a treasure hunt with rows upon rows of vintage. I also regularly shop at Pigsty vintage in Japan with locations on Cat Street (Tokyo) and in Osaka.
Do you have any favourite denim brands & why?
I love a variety of denim brands some are fashion denim and some regular everyday denim. I’m not a denim snob either I buy from charity shops and I wear styles and cuts I like from all different brands and like to mix new brands with vintage. I’m at home in a pair of Paige skinny jeans as the fit for me is perfect, J brand have an excellent cropped kick flare, Frame and Levi’s are also my favorite regular denim brands. These are the kind I wear every day.
I have a passion for fashion denim like MARQUES ALMEIDA I like its individual uniqueness and the way the brand took denim to the runway and evaluated its status. They pushed the boundaries with denim and gave it a new aesthetic.
Discovering new denim brands when I’m travelling is a real thrill; some of my favourite discoveries are from Asia. I have a weakness for SJYP in particular, and brands like Low Classic, Front Row, Recto and Happening. I love Japanese brand Bonum which specializes in repairing stitching and recurring vintage denim. I love the handcraft appeal of the Brand Kapital. I recently discovered an online store specializing in new Korean brands called W concept, it’s become my new go to online shop for my denim needs.
Is there a particular denim item in your closet you cherish the most?
Yes I cherish my Levi’s trucker jacket which was a birthday gift from my parents when I was 17. I still wear it to this day and is my most worn and treasured piece. I recently got my name chain stitched on it by the LA based Lot Stock and Barrel.
Are there denim trends you’re not a fan of?
I can’t quite get on with flares! Maybe it’s because I’m only 5ft3 but normally my flares end up soggy at the bottom from walking through London’s rain!
I love the style though and do own a few pairs but I prefer cropped versions.
How will the denim market evolve in the next couple of years?
The denim industry is changing rapidly, haven’t you noticed how many fashion brands feature denim as part of their catwalks shows these days? It’s become increasingly acceptable for high end fashion labels to rework this humble fabric into luxury items. Fashion and denim have really fused together. I love seeing how denim is really being restyled, reworked and reshaped.
We can also see a huge interest in sustainable denim, not only in the way it’s produced but the way as we as a consumer wash and care and recycle our denim. You only have to look at how popular Mr Blacks denim refresh is now and how brands like Levi’s, Nudie jeans and Madewell are taking responsibility for teaching us to recycle and care for our denim. Many denim brands including H&M are also producing sustainable denim from recycled fibres.
It would be amazing if in the future every pair of jeans was made sustainably.
If you wouldn’t be doing what you do today, what would be your dream job?
I think I’d definitely still be working in fashion design or interiors as it was always my dream to work in a creative environment. However I’d like to have worked for a magazine publication or perhaps own my own vintage store or even have my own denim brand.