While most know Denise Ho as a reputable Hong Kong fashion stylist with close to two decades of credentials – including commissions for Vogue and Vanity Fair – she is an equally talented entrepreneur who treads in the sustainable space with the launch of her fashion brands, Knotti, and most recently, Kitdo.
Working in fashion, Denise sees first-hand how wasteful consumption can be, citing that people only wear 10 to 20 per cent of their entire wardrobe. She speaks to us about her passion for sustainability and how she promotes conscious living through the art of restyling.
This is not your first venture within sustainable fashion – you already have a knitwear brand, Knotti, that spotlights biodegradable yarn. What triggered you to develop Kitdo?
It started with the frustration I experienced when ruining so many clothes with safety pins on set. That was years ago, and the idea of a styling product has been stuck in my mind ever since. After garnering experiences while working in sustainable fashion, I realised the importance of restyling and started creating content through social media. I am fully aware that consumers will not stop buying, so why not make a beautiful and functional product that will elevate restyling and celebrate the longevity of clothing.
Could you take us through the design process for Kitdo – from ideation to the final product? What were the main challenges?
The biggest challenge was that I had zero background in designing accessories and hardware, and the idea was just a vision in my head. So I went to the stationery store, got some moulding clay and magnets, and started playing around in my closet. I showed my manufacturer the most amateur model made with clay, but he managed to translate the concept into a 3D graphic.
Kitdo is a newly invented product, and it took around 10 months of trial and error to perfect the design and functions. The goal is to create a shape that is easy to hold with a smooth surface for fabrics to slide through easily, light enough to wear all day and sturdy enough to sandwich fabrics together firmly. Each piece is individually crafted with the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine process to avoid excess production and finished with a water-free coating process.
You are most known for being a style connoisseur. How do you communicate sustainability through styling individual clients and fashion shoots?
It can be challenging as clients usually gravitate towards the cheapest and quickest way to source clothes. I am constantly pushing for them to rent items through various platforms or directly from designers. If I am required to purchase clothes, I make sure I pick better quality items and think of ways to extend their lives through donation, resale and giveaway to ensure that they won’t end up in landfill.
What fashion brands impress you when it comes to innovating and reshaping the industry?
I am a consumer myself, so I do buy clothes. When I buy, I always think of the circular economy. I think second-hand platforms like The Hula and Vestiaire Collective have provided a great option when it comes to satisfying consumers’ thirst for newness.
I must mention Kitdo as even though it is a simple product, it triggers consumers’ creativity in revisiting their clothes. The only way to resolve this waste crisis is to really slow down on creating new. If we nurture a culture around restyling and inspire conscious living, we can make a more considerable difference.
What piece of technology do you think will revolutionise how we consume fashion?
I definitely have been thinking about an interactive restyling app. Restyling is fun, but a lot of time is wasted on changing, and you can only do it within your own space at your own time. The idea is to load up an avatar and restyle your wardrobe on the phone. Obviously, it still needs a lot of polishing, but an elevated styling app would be a dream come true.
Being a mother of a 4-year-old, how do you address sustainability at home in a daily setting?
Like all other parents, we want to leave a better world for our children. It is essential to educate our kids about sustainability, especially within the city. We try to do our best to recycle within our household, and I am one of those housewives who will actually pay more for sustainable products. We are pretty strict when it comes to our son’s consumption of clothes and toys, and both my husband and I like the idea of not having so much stuff.
Most of my son’s clothes are hand-me-downs, and if he needs something special to wear, I go to Retykle. We only buy new toys when he gets rid of old ones or swaps with friends. I am constantly explaining to my son the downside of overconsumption and how we can do better.
Finally, what are your personal goals for 2022?
I want to focus on growth, invest in quality and stay healthy!
See also: 8 Sustainable Menswear Brands To Support
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