Just Kim Prints is the brainchild of Kimberley Westwood. The screen-printed sport luxe accessories range is inspired by a combination of Kim’s passion for pattern and experimental texture design. The outcomes mix traditional printing processes such as screen printing with Kims love for modern materials such as neoprene. We caught up with Kim to find out what sparked the beginning of Just Kim Prints and the fascinating stories behind her work.
What is Just Kim Prints about and what are your goals behind the brand?
I was once told not to overthink it ‘just do it’ a pass tutor, now dear friend said to me ‘Keep it simple, sexy’ this is now what Just Kim Prints encapsulates. Then by miracle it all came together and I had a collection that worked. I strongly believe in just going for things, just doing and acting on things and Just Kim Prints is the baby child of this, in everything I create just doing has brought me here.
After I graduated I went traveling around the Philippines my mothers homeland and my second home. It was on this trip of a lifetime that I was caught up in Typhoon Yolanda, which was the strongest tropical cyclone to ever hit the Philippines. I was stranded on the Boracay Island, which was no longer a paradise. I witnessed the flooding, the pure strength of the wind, with it brought darkness, no electricity, no emergency calls no information of how long it would last, or when I could leave the island. Luckily it didn’t hit so bad where I stayed and none of my family where affected, but as I travelled back into main land I saw how the typhoon ripped through the streets, leaving collapsed trees, electricity poles and houses. The small domestic airport I was supposed to be flying from had one side totally flattened and the other side just about standing up. It was a moving experience that I will never forget and ever since I have counted myself lucky, with Just Kim Prints I want to use this platform to give back. By giving a percentage to the Typhoon Yolanda charities to help families rebuild their homes and to aid the children and families who had lost family members in Typhoon Yolanda. Like some big time brands like Vivienne Westwood I want my work to make a difference even if it’s small. Fashion is strong and we should use it to support others in need not just for self-consumption.
Could you give a brief background into your educational history and most importantly how you got into printmaking?
I studied at Chelsea College of Art and Design on the BA textiles course. I chose to specialise in digital print, as I wanted to learn the whole technical side of designing. I balanced between both digital print and screen print as I enjoyed mixing the two processes. But nothing beats getting hands on and mucky with a screen and squeegee, its always quite exciting as each print comes out slightly different, which is probably why I use it the most. As much as I tried to stick to digital printing I always found myself back in the print room, some days were bad, but sometimes, something clicks and it’s really, really, good like love hate relationship it keeps me on my feet this is when I realised print was the one for me. With screen printing you can get some really beautiful outcomes which you can’t from digital, I enjoy foiling and flocking my prints to create texture, some of these examples can be seen in my recent collection of bags.
How does your design process usually work, from initial ideas to finished outcomes?
Most of my inspiration comes from visuals first, then I have a big draw playing with different marks and materials, then from that I chose the most interesting pieces and experiment with both digital and screen print to produce interesting outs comes.
The Just Kim Prints bag collection ‘Utopia’ is a follow on from my graduate collection ‘Failed Utopia’. Since graduating I have edited my prints by focusing on a smaller colour palette to make my work visually strong and to give my brand an identity by selecting just three signature print designs.
The initial inspiration for my prints came from some photos I took on the now demolished Heygate Estate. The idea behind the ‘failed utopia’ collection was to highlight society’s downfall by exploring areas of decay and abandoned landscapes. While I walked around the apocalyptic estate I saw there was a notice board and the remains of an allotment where the residence were trying to regenerate the site by creating there own utopia. All that was left was dead plants and news clippings of their failed efforts to make the estate a better place. I took photos of the textures of the walls, floor, grills and drain covers from which my colour palette and illustration work derived from. I wanted my prints to reflect textures of distress, by using light colours, foiling and flocking my prints I gave my work a luxurious feel transforming everyday pattern into something beautiful. With Just Kim Prints mission to aid the Philippines in mind I create prints to show a silver lining and even though sometimes things can be ugly, it’s doesn’t mean new good things can’t come from it.
Why did you focus on the luxe sport accessory sector, where you looking to fill a gap in the market?
Something has always drawn me to sportswear in general, I feel it’s something cool, current, ever changing with new materials, fashion has made sportswear sexy. I fell in love with using neoprene while at Chelsea which is where my obsession came from when I created a printed bomber jacket, jumper and bag out of neoprene, now I’m just nuts over it, the feel, the look, the shape it holds when made into bags which is why my whole collection is made from it. Neoprene originally was used in scuba driving suits, so it’s durable and waterproof perfect for sportswear bags. There is a gap in the market for cool high fashion looking sport bags, for something different and current that’s not a boring black Nike duffle. I feel like people do want to look the part when going to the gym or just in general when out and about sports luxe is not just for the gym it can be a everyday bag too. But I don’t design to fill a gap I design things that I like and that I think other people will like too.
What are your plans for the near and distant future with Just Kim Prints?
As this is just the start I plan to spread the Just Kim Prints word by selling as festivals, trade shows and markets, meeting people making connections and most importantly happy customers. I have just set up an Etsy shop online which will be followed by my own website later on this year. I plan to slowly introduce more products to my ever growing family of bags, I will keep on creating new designs and there are plans to make limited editions printed products for upcoming events, which I will make a selected number of. I’m a strong believer in collaboration and you’ll be sure to see some cool and exciting things come out of Just Kim Prints this year so stay tuned.