Friday, 1 November 2013

Introducing an Ethical Boutique that's playing for Keeps!

In March 2013, Kate Richards launched The Keep - with the purpose of providing a curated selection of ethical fashion that is both environmentally sustainable and socially responsible. This thoughtfully beautiful boutique champions enduring styles that stand the test of time. I'm delighted to share with you my exclusive interview with Kate!

Q. What kept you motivated while you worked so hard to make your own way and start a brand new enterprise? 

Primarily the clothes. Every time I stumbled across another collection that was ethical, fashionable and beautiful, I got another huge surge of energy to battle on, and to create a space where others could also appreciate these great brands.
Also, the people around me who expressed their admiration for what I was doing, it’s amazing how powerful a few words of support can be.

Q. How would you describe the design aesthetic of The Keep in 10 words or less?

A carefully curated, rustic-chic, beautiful boutique.

Q. If you could change one thing about the fashion industry, what would it be and why?

The lightening passage of trends. As soon as you’ve bought the latest jacket, the next style hits the high street. What you’ve just bought becomes discarded, and you end up just wanting what’s coming next, rather than really loving what you’ve got. It creates an endless treadmill, and unique style gets lost on this exhausting runway of fast-fashion.

Q. Which ethical designers are inspiring you right now?

Partimi. I love everything about Eleanor’s brand: the aesthetic; the sustainability; the integrity. She’s not a designer that uses the ‘ethical’ banner for marketing purposes. There’s a purity about the brand, and Eleanor’s connection to each print makes wearing here pieces a very personal experience. 

Pelican Top by Partimi

Sara C is very similar in both ethos and style. I’ve had her first collection in the shop for a month now and they’re a real eye-catcher. The prints on the bamboo tops make life very difficult…most people want them all and her maxi-dresses are unique. Seeing what’s in store for her next collection is keeping me motivated now the shop’s up and running!

Q. What makes The Keep a great choice for eco-conscious fashionistas?

I hand pick every piece not only based on strict ethical criteria, but also because I genuinely love and would want to own and wear it myself. Therefore, any eco-conscious individual can be assured that they will be able to find something that will genuinely make them feel good – not only because the natural materials are so soft, but because the designs are fashionable and the prints unique.

Q. Do you have a favourite item in store right now?

The Les Racines du Ciel dresses. They’re dyed using sweet potato paste, buried in the mud for six months and then washed in a river thirty times. They’ve become like children to me! I’m genuinely thrilled when someone buys one and I know it’s going to a good home – to someone who’ll treasure it forever.

Q. What’s your advice for people interested in making a career out of ethical fashion and design?

Do your research. That’s the advice Eleanor Dorrien-Smith (Partimi) shared at a talk I went to about a year ago and she was absolutely right. The fashion supply chain is often long and transparent only at certain stages.  

You might not be able to tick every box, but as long as you’re aware of where the limitations are, honest about these, and looking at ways to improve…then you’re on the right path.

And stick at it, because the ethical/sustainable route will become easier as time goes by and more people/brands choose to adopt it.

Q. What does the future hold for The Keep?

That’s the sort of question that makes me wish I had a business partner who I could turn to and say…why don’t you answer that one!

Right now I’m focusing on establishing the shop as a destination location in Brixton Village, whilst growing a customer base of very loyal keepers across London.

I’d love to introduce menswear in a year’s time, and then another one or two shops in London after that. I’ve been told a few times that The Keep would do well in Japan…so who knows…Tokyo here we come.

You can also connect with The Keep via Facebook and Twitter!

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