London Calling – Kiomi Renwick
By Alicia-Rae Light
Why do people need to ride their bike to work in active wear, get to work, change and have wrinkled pants for the rest of the day? 24-year-old Kwantlen design student Kiomi Renwick offers an inventive and stylish solution to attire cyclists, perfectly suited to the requirements of today’s urban environment.
After completing two years of history and English literature at Langara College, Renwick started the Bachelor of applied design in fashion design and technology at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. “I was skeptical of what I could do with a history degree, so I decided to keep history and English as a hobby and have fashion design as a career,” said Renwick. “I didn’t realize I was such a visual person and that I needed an outlet for creativity like I did until I started [to design].”
Now, as a fourth year student, each designer was required to identify a niche market, then research it to create their final line, which is presented at the annual graduation fashion show. This year’s show will be held on April 1 at the River Rock Show Theatre. Renwick’s line has a very specific target market.
‘Cavalier’ is geared toward a 35-55-year-old man, living in an urban city that rides his bicycle to work, in a profession where business attire is required. The outfits look typical and classic, but each contains hidden functions making them more comfortable for them to ride to work, while being in style at the same time.
“The most fun part of menswear is making it new and modern by mixing different colors, fabrics and prints,” explains Renwick. “My line is inspired by 1920s bespoke tailoring and my grandfather, everything I design has a historical element to it.”
Her garments have a high degree of customization, featuring a unique coat made from tweed with a unique weave of wool worsted and reflective yarn, designed by a London based designer, ‘Dashing Tweeds’. “When they’re walking around in the day it just looks like a normal coat, but at night when light shines on it, it lights up,” said Renwick. These fabrics have been inspired by the colors of London, from the wet pavements of Piccadilly to the green grass of Hyde Park.
She describes her line as classic with modern twists to it, staying true to traditions in men’s clothing, especially in the styling. “I find that there are more and more lines catering towards people who ride bikes, it’s nice to know that [I] have an understanding of what’s going on in the fashion world,” she added.
Some of her other designs include shirts with vents and technical meshing to wick sweat and for ease through the shoulders, pants with snaps hidden in the cuffs to cuff while riding to stop them from getting caught in the spokes while they are riding,
In the industry, Renwick admits that it was tough at first to take any kind of criticism, “because when we design something it’s a whole concept put together that has been researched for a number of weeks, and then created,” she said. “When you pour your heart and soul into something and someone doesn’t appreciate the background work, but for every project we get feedback so it’s become easier and easier to take.”
Kwantlen’s fashion program is closely linked to the industry, so students are constantly working with local stores including a luon bathing suit project with Lululemon, and a stylish raincoat project with the Bay’s Canadian by Design section.
Renwick has made traveling an essential part of her life, “I’ve tried to make it over to Europe and just let loose for a bit, I just need to.” Her travels have greatly inspired her designs. The beautifully dressed European men who take pride in their tailoring, influencing her final line in particular.
She has always been drawn to London’s international designer, Alexander McQueen. “I’m a bit of a feminist at heart, and he plays around with the concept that women are strong beings, emphasizing that they can dress feminine and be strong at the same time.”
After her graduation in April, Renwick plans on moving to London, the world’s most dynamic fashion capital, to further her career as a designer on an international scale.