Local Makers – Bespoke Bags and Sustainable Design With Kim from Oxlade & Heart
It’s no secret that we are a fan of local maker Oxlade & Heart and the wonderful work they’re creating! Founder Kim Regan is a close friend and inspirational local maker with who we have had the pleasure of collaborating on a number of pieces. However, Oxlade & Heart’s range extends far beyond our collaborations and is a wonderful local brand focusing on bespoke items with a zero-waste initiative! How great is that?
I wanted to know more about the brand, its humble beginnings, and what the future looks like. Kim Regan happily sat down for a chat about what Oxlade & Heart means to her.
Hi there! Who is the creative behind Oxlade & Heart?
I’m Kim Regan. I grew up in a creative family; my mother was a potter and my dad was always making or building something. So making was my norm. There was always an emphasis on creative freedom, if you had an idea you made it. At school, my first job was in a beautiful textile store. After school, I studied Interior Design in Brisbane and then traveled the world as a textiles wholesaler.
In 2001 I was working in Chelsea Harbour in London within the interior design industry. Chelsea Harbour is the textile hub for textile suppliers from around the globe. The handbag inspiration came from all the beautiful textiles from around the globe. I feel so many of these beautiful textiles weren’t able to be appreciated by so many people.
This led to me designing handbags in 2001 under the label Kim Regan for people to enjoy. In 2015 I changed the name to Oxlade & Heart. Developing new one-of-kind-handbag styles with a small team of seamstresses to help create the collections.
Who is Oxlade and Heart?
Kim and a team of talented local seamstresses.
Tell us more about the approach to creating the perfect bespoke bag!
What is a perfect bespoke bag, big question? What is perfect for one and not perfect for another. To answer your question, I love creating one of a kind handbags that are both beautiful and practical. There is a thrill in waiting for the right owner to find their bag.
Where do you source your fabrics from?
The fabrics are sourced from wonderful, supportive textiles suppliers.
What makes it the perfect fabric for you?
I love texture and color and natural fibers. I really appreciate all textiles! it is just a matter of finding the right texture of the bag and the bag use. All textiles are useful, you just need to find a place for them. i.e. totes, evening bags, or handbag lining.
We hear you have an almost zero waste approach to your design! Amazing! What encouraged you to lead your design in this direction?
For many years I have been seeing beautiful textiles from around the globe. I found it sad that these beautiful fabric samples would go to waste and nobody would be able to appreciate them. So creating beautiful handbags from these textiles seemed like the perfect solution! Enabling more people to appreciate and enjoy their beauty and to have a one-of-a-kind handbag amid a mass-production world.
What challenges do you find yourself needing to overcome to maintain this approach?
I have some wonderful contacts to enable me to keep designing in this way of zero waste and one of a kind designs.
We know the bags you create are vegan, but we want to know why! Was this a conscious decision or a happy coincidence?
No leather used in the designs. These designs have just evolved that way, a happy coincidence.
Do you believe that there is a difference between the Australian market and their approach to sustainable design as opposed to the rest of the world?
In the Australian market, there is a different look for a different climate… Linens, cotton, and natural dyes from our local environment. Some brands are working with what is around us. Each country has different ways of being sustainable and producing in ethical ways. It is up to the brand to understand what goes on behind the scenes in the production of their product.
Where do you see Oxlade and Heart moving in the future?
Moving forward Oxlade & Heart will continue to develop our one-of-kind handbags, and move forth into Men’s Fashion accessories. This can lead to developing into a one-of-kind fashion range and homewares. And of course, all products will remain handcrafted in Australia.
What are you most proud of in the 5 years of Oxlade and Heart?
I am most proud of the continuing development of the ranges of one-of-a-kind sustainable designs and maintaining a zero-waste approach. Also that we continue to make it in Australia!
Who are some other brands that are doing their bit to encourage an eco-conscious approach to fast fashion?
Bowerbird Collections (I love adding new pieces to my wardrobe from Bowerbird), Elk, St.Agni, Saroka, Ginger Smart, The Social Outfit, Kitx just to name in few.
Who are some brands you’ve collaborated with or enjoy working with?
Bowerbird Collections on our range of bespoke clutches and handbags. We have also collaborated with Artist Brett Salta, who hand-paints beautiful linens, silks, and cotton. From these, we create one-of-kind accessories and we are currently working on a fashion range which is very exciting.
It was such a pleasure to explore another local maker and their practice. If you want to see more of Oxlade & Heart’s work you can see their Instagram here or website here!
Here at Bowerbird, we believe it is so important to be aware of the creatives around you and to be able to buy and support local. One of our great joys is collaborating with other makers who share a passion for a sustainable approach to fashion or homewares, or even just sustainability in general!
Are you a local maker interested in being part of this series? Let us know, we love to get to know the people around us who design with integrity and passion!
Until next time xx