Kalita Al Swaidi and Raechel Temily
Bali brand Kalita is taking the fashion world by storm, thanks to its sophisticated beach-chic look.
How did you two meet?
Kally: We met in London through mutual friends, our connection was immediate, but I think it’s safe to say that neither of us knew what lay ahead in terms of the creative path we were going to take together.
Describe the brand in three words.
Rae: Inspirational. Minimal. Unforgettable.
What sets you apart from other resort wear brands?
Rae: I think people have this perception of resort wear brands as being kaftans and bright prints, basic cover-ups in flat, cut-out shapes. Or ‘holiday’ clothes you’d never wear for the rest of your life. That’s the antithesis of what we’re about.
Kally: We’re also making clothes that aren’t easily boxed into that ‘holiday wardrobe’ genre. You’ll definitely want to take Kalita with you when you’re off to a destination event or travelling to some far-flung exotic place where you want to take amazing photos. But when you get home, you’ll still want to wear that dress. You might pair it with a leather jacket and ankle boots, or over a shrunken white tee with a pair of trainers, but you’ll still be wearing it. That’s really what makes us different.
What is your design process?
Kally: Everything we do is considered and detail-oriented. Our pieces are finished with French seams. You can turn our dresses inside out and apart from the label, you almost wouldn’t notice. We use toiles for development, pinning and cutting directly on a mannequin so that we can see how the fabric drapes and falls.
Rae: Colour is one of our signatures. Our fabrics are hand-dyed—which is no easy task when some of our dresses have six, or even ten, metres of fabric in them. A lot of our pieces are cut on the bias, which is a nightmare for fabric consumption but results in the most sublime fit. We put an extraordinary amount of effort into achieving beautifully finished garments which feel and look like a dream, but that are relaxed enough to wear almost anywhere.
Where do your inspirations come from?
Kally: They can come from anywhere—a faded patina, the colours of Cuba, the way a girl wears her hair on the beach… I remember what inspired me to start designing was this girl on the beach in Mykonos. I had worked so hard on my holiday wardrobe and when I saw her I just wanted to throw away all my clothes and start again.
She looked so effortless—barefoot, hair tied in a scarf, skin the colour of terracotta, a mismatching bikini and a halter dress worn as a skirt with the halter tying it around her waist… She was just the dream girl from Ipanema, and when she passed there was this collective sigh.
Photos: Courtesy of Mirza Nurman Syarieff/The Bulgari, Bali