Sunroom x Kalita Interview
Our creative director Kalita Al Swaidi sat down recently with Leigh from Sunroom Boutique to discuss inspiration, philosophy, life, and everything in between.
Can you share a bit more about your own background and path to design? How did your free-spirited, "effortlessly glamorous and unexpected" vision for your collections evolve?
Ultimately, K A L I T A is about celebrating women. I am always searching for something to help women feel comfortable and empowered - When you put on one of my dresses, I want you to become the woman you think you couldn’t be – beautiful, fierce and powerful.
Do you have a style icon/reference/muse that embodies the spirit of Kalita?
K A L I T A is about effortless style; taking off your sky-high sandals and jumping barefoot onto a boat, still feeling beautiful. It is wearing trainers underneath the most amazing dress. It’s wearing your favourite pair of silk trousers on the plane, knowing you can roll straight to dinner in them and still look the picture of elegance. It’s salty summer skin and late-night escapades.
Is there a core philosophy or thread that's informed your evolution as a designer?
Everything K A L I T A does is with purpose. The brand is committed to embracing real changes in the production chain, reducing waste, finding alternatives to plastic, protecting small sustainable businesses and innovating and researching cleaner, less planet harmful technologies.
Together these things ensure that the K A L I T A brand is ethical and that all aspects of the business are treated with respect and compassion.
Each year the brand aims to support a cause close to its heart by donating 10 percent of proceeds to philanthropic causes. This year we will be supporting Dementia as the K A L I T A 2023 collection ethos is ‘dresses for memories’ and we want wearing K A L I T A to create those memories.
Your most recent favourite outfit?
The Lumiere dress in our next collection… but you will have to wait and see ;)
What's an unexpected source of personal inspiration?
Firstly my team as they teach me something every day but on a creative level I am very visual so photographs – old black and whites of Positano and St Tropez – Lee Radziwill - Peter Beard - my crazy collection of polaroids that fill my bathroom mirror.
Ultimately my inspiration comes from everywhere, people I meet, colours in nature… each K A L I T A collection is a like a mini history of everything that has inspired me over the past 6 months.
I love anything a little unknown, hidden, a little family run gem that hasn’t been ruined yet. rural – full of laughter.
What is the best advice you've received in your career so far?
Trying to keep your head about you, in the early days I would get very upset over things not going right, I am learning to try to not take things so personally and try to see upsets as gifts that come in strange packages and help you find solutions.
But also the best piece of advice has always been the harder you work the luckier you get and always, always trust yourself.
Quick Fire Questions
I always start my day with: Black coffee, a morning meditation and a drive in my old rover mini to my gym Bodyism or Box Clever in Notting Hill.
In the next 3 months, I really want to: Uplift women but also concentrate even more on sustainability. With slower production schedules, small-batch collections, and zero waste designs we can make a difference. K A L I T A is a slow fashion brand and our aim is to reduce the textile waste clogging our landfills. Instead of chasing trends, K A L I T A is about enduring styles with layering options that create classic and versatile pieces that will stay in your wardrobe for years to come.
A personal mantra or favourite quote:
You have always had the power my dear you just had to learn it for yourself
The best purchase I’ve made under $100: Rag and Bone white supima vests and t-shirts are my indulgence as are Thunder Love Socks and Calvin Klein underwear (a nineties a girl at heart)
My ultimate travel escape: Ibiza and Bali as they are the home of the collection but at this very moment I would go back to Sardinia and be sitting in the square in San Pantaleo with hunks of pecorino cheese and truffle honey. If I had an even larger magic wand I would take myself even farther to St Barths and stay with my best girlfriend and her three wonderful children racing them across the island to their relevant dancing, swimming and lego engagements.
My creative/design ethos: Timeless elegance to be worn time after time
One thing I find myself recommending over and over again (maybe a purchase, or a recipe, or just a personal life hack or practice you get asked about often): The Teachings of Abraham Hicks by Esther Hicks… and unfortunately my all singing all dancing Jura coffee machine.
And - Where the Crawdads Sing – I didn’t want to finish it. And a bath… always a bath….
Sunroom is the most beautiful boutique with outlets in both Austin and Malibu. They are one of our favourite stockists, so do be sure to pop in and try on some beautiful Kalita pieces.