Kim Champlin is no ordinary English Lit student, she is the founder of KIMKINI, an innovative swimwear collection inspired by the vistas of Dubai. Launching this month, KIMKINI offers a capsule collection of several luxury- one pieces and bikini separates ranging from $40-$80. We sat down with Kim to find out how she balances books and business.
Edinburgh isn’t a tropical climate so why did you feel inspired to design a swimwear collection rather than more weather- appropriate pieces?
I am very fortunate to have the best of both worlds in Scotland and Dubai. I am based in Edinburgh as I’m at university here, but I have grown up in Dubai and consider it my home. I have deep family roots in Scotland, but Edinburgh doesn’t quite influence a swimwear line like Dubai can. In Dubai my wardrobe usually consists of swimsuits and beachwear, I experimented with so many different cuts and styles that universally compliment all body types. I have pretty much covered every detail in the designs, even making the interior of the swimsuit the same colour as the exterior, so that if your bikini rolls, no one will notice. Also, it’s fun to shop for swimwear online, dreaming of your next holiday, it’s something to look forward to when stuck in the library!
YOUR SWIMWEAR PLAYS TRIBUTE TO DUBAI, HOW DID THE CITY INSPIRE YOUR COLLECTION?
I grew up in Dubai and so it played a great part in my inspiration for my swimwear brand. I thought that anyone could make a bikini, but I wanted mine to be totally unique. Dubai is known for its iconic buildings, such as the Burj Al Arab, Burj Khalifa, and the Atlantis, so I featured this through some of my swimsuits for people to instantly recognise and relate with. Through my own experience, Instagram is very influential in places such as Dubai, and by living here I have refined my outlook in looking for high quality, comfort-fitting, notable swimsuits.
The pieces are bold and ambitious, what made you embrace Dubai so literally in your design?
If you have ever been to Dubai before you know it’s not a place to be subtle! I wanted this aspect to reflect through bold and unique swimwear designs. I couldn’t have dull colours in these particular swimsuits, they had to stand out. Also, you have to think about people actually wearing these swimsuits, the bright eye-catching colours are summery and gorgeous.
You study English Literature which is quite a big step away from fashion design, have you had any previous experience in design?
I’ve had some minor experience with creative design during my A- Level art course, which actually inspired one of the collections of KIMKINI; THE CALLIGRAPHY. I studied Arabic calligraphy for my final exam, which is such an important form of art in Islamic culture.This is a more understated style compared with the other swimsuits, but some customers have said it is their favourite due to the pastel/retro vibe of the candy pink and white combination.
"I have found that my course offers me a lot of freedom, so I haven’t felt swamped with work just yet. I find that if you really enjoy both your studies, and anything else you take on, then [balance] will never feel difficult or tedious, it’s gratifying more than anything."
It can be difficult to find investment for burgeoning fashion designers; did you have the same experience in your pursuit?
This is partly why KIMKINI took so long to launch. Overall, it has taken approximately 3 years to be finalised, it’s not something I wanted to rush. I enjoyed the process and took my time with it, really making sure everything was perfect. I saved money over throughout the three years I have been at university, paid for a website and researched how to build it myself. I keep a book to add up all the costs and make sure I stay within my budget. Keeping tabs on everything you are investing in helps you plan realistically what your next step should be. It’s helped me overcome expensive aspects of creating my own company and made everything more cost effective. For example, I opted for eco-friendly manufacturing in Brazil as much as possible, like printing the KIMKINI logo and care labels on the interior of swimsuit material instead of using tags and excessive amounts of plastic which amounts to so much wastage. For burgeoning fashion designers, I would advise them to not be afraid to ask family and friends for emotional support, it is something that I greatly valued throughout this whole process. Simple things such as borrowing a friend’s camera, or asking a family member to help with the photos for your website can make a huge difference in the long run.
Take your time with your brand, nothing spectacular happens overnight – more than anything, it isn’t just a financial investment, it’s an investment of so much time and effort.
We’ve established that Kimkini is extremely glamorous, but how would you describe your personal style?
On a day-to-day basis I’m usually in class, at the gym, chilling with family and friends, or working on KIMKINI. Typically my personal style is based around comfort and practicality, but I still like to feel stylish. Instagram plays a big part in influencing my fashion sense, as I find so many new brands from people I follow which are really fun and different from mainstream brands.
You can purchase all the swimsuits featured in this article at kimkini.com