Kit Willow has long known what the rest of the fashion industry has only recently cottoned onto. With her brand, KITX, Willow has been a pioneering voice in the push for more sustainable industry practices, and her Resort 2022 collection, UNDERWORLD, proved just how deep her commitment runs.
The show, staged at Sydney’s Carriageworks as part of the official Afterpay Australian Fashion Week schedule, sought to raise awareness about the peril of endangered sea creatures.
“In our world right now over 37,400 species are considered endangered and at risk of extinction,” Willow told GRAZIA. “This is primarily due to human activity. It’s crucial that we protect what we have left.”
The show’s activist message was evident from the very first look, when model Astrid Holler opened wearing a tank top with a Jaws graphic and the phrase ‘ENDANGERED’ emblazoned across it.
“The shark tees highlight the way we humans have become the ultimate predator and threat to one of the ocean’s most majestic creatures,” Willow says. “We were inspired by a selection of sea creatures, from stingrays and starfish to whales, sharks, and seahorses. These will feature as part of a larger endangered sea creature T-shirt series.”
The influence of the ocean penetrated the collection in less overt ways, too. KITX is known for their elegant draping, and handkerchief-hemmed silk dresses lapped on the body like soft pooling waves. Elsewhere, patchwork denim featured heavily—bustiers tucked into form-fitting maxi skirts, and finished with double-denim sunhats. Soothing blues, soft beiges, and foamy sea greens made up the collections’ colour palette.
As has become the norm for KITX, pieces were made with upcycled, recycled and ethically sourced materials, including virgin organic natural textiles, trims made from marine litter, and fabrics sourced from discarded fashion sent to landfill. “We need to ensure we limit our footprint on our precious resources,” Willow says.
The depletion of those resources was a constant reminder throughout the show, thanks to a short film that debuted before the runway began. Directed by Jordan Askill and Alice Wesley Smith, the film revealed the perilous state of many of the world’s ecosystems (a sobering statistic revealed that 41% of amphibians and 26% of mammals are currently under threat), focusing specifically on Sydney’s rapidly declining White’s seahorse population.
The show was yet another reminder of the ways in which fashion can be a transcendent cultural force—something that was on full display with yesterday’s moving First Nations Fashion + Design runway showcase. The last 13 months have rocked the foundations of our shared reality, and the local industry has responded by taking fashion’s fabulous escapist tendencies and anchoring them in real life. The mix is compelling.