Tom Wood and Kelly Harrington collaborate to create a ‘denim fantasy wardrobe’

Fashion collaborations are at all-time high and are as powerful as ever.
2017 saw everything from luxury fashion house tapping a streetwear name, cult fashion favorites buddying up with global delivery services, celebrity partnerships, and not to mention the barrage of thoughtless logo slapping that went down. You name it, it happened, and you couldn’t escape it.

The best collaborations, however, go beyond mere co-branding and celebrity alignments and offer a more compelling story and an element of surprise. That’s why we were excited to hear about the forthcoming collaboration between Scandi label Tom Wood and denim addict and Instagram influencer Kelly Harrington aka @Kellouhar.

While the idea of an Instagram influencer denim collection might not get the pulse racing, this collaboration comes with a much more meaningful and creative approach.

If you’re an indigo aficionado then you’ll no doubt already be following Kelly. Kelly has been trailblazing an indigo streak across Insta feeds for the past few years and has risen to become one of the leading denim voices on the platform. A quick skim through her feed reveals how Kelly literally lives, breathes, walks and talks denim and indigo blue. What started as a passion project has gained her nearly 45K followers and has seen her travel the world, whilst maintaining her full-time profession as a trend forecaster and vintage archivist, career which respectively span nearly two decades.
Likewise, Norwegian lifestyle brand Tom Wood shares a similar obsession for everything blue. For A/W 18-19, the Oslo-based brand was seeking out opportunities to experiment and innovate and was on the look out for a collaborator who could shake up their more modest Scandi denim range. Obviously, Kelly was the perfect partner for the project, due to her skills, passion and personal style. “With a shared love affair for Japan and denim, a collaboration with Kelly inevitable. Her individual style and enthusiasm for what she does makes her a true creative visionary” said Tom Wood Co-Founder, Morten Isachsen in a press release from the brand.
So with a capsule collection agreed, Kelly set about creating what she describes as her “denim fantasy wardrobe”. Taking inspiration from her global travels and vintage archive the collection is a wish list of ultimate denim items with a personal twist. Items like hanten jackets and boro kimonos from Japan are reimagined in a contemporary context with button details and zippers.
The collection was showcased during Stockholm Fashion Week and she has been teasing her campaign which say photographer @moeeztali turn the lens on famous street style photographer like Adam Katz Sinding (@le21eme), Julien Boudet (@bleumode) and @EvaAlDesnudo, who modelled for the shoot.
Obviously, we were more than excited to hear more about the collection and spoke to Kelly to find out her inspirations, the process behind the collaboration, and what it feels like to make your fantasy denim wardrobe.

How did the collaboration with Tom Wood come about and what was your brief on the project?

Tom Wood approached me to collaborate with them back in October 2017.  We had a Skype call and hit it off straight away. 2 weeks later I took a flight to Oslo Norway to meet Mona & Morten in person to discuss a vision and direction for the project. Mona & Morten liked my unconventional approach to denim and wanted me to bring that to the Tom Wood brand with our own capsule line KELLY HARRINGTON X TOMWOOD. We discussed a need for more experimental pieces that would sit alongside their core denim collection.

This is your first time doing a full denim collection. How was the process and what were some of the biggest challenges?

The creative process for me was something I revelled in. I’m an ideas person always finding inspiration in the things around me. I came up with lots of different ideas and presented my top pieces to the Tom Wood team. My inspiration for the Kelly Harrington x Tom Wood capsule was based on 2 things, firstly the denim pieces that I felt where missing from my wardrobe. And secondly my travels and in particular my love and obsession with Japan. Japan is a place close to my heart, I have travelled here many times and would love to live her one day. Many of the pieces are based on my favourite vintage items I have collected.

The biggest challenge we came across was developing my complicated designs in production yet still trying to keep functional, simple and timeless design at the core. What I love about Mona & Morten is their drive. I guess we are quite similar, we share a passion for something we believe in and we were determined to make the best possible product. We really pushed for a super high standard in quality & design with great attention to detail and materials.

You worked with Candiani for the denim. What made you choose a European mill over Japanese for the range?

The Tom Wood brand uses Candiani denim for their core Tom wood denim line so it was a natural process to keep with this structure and familiarity. Morten is also passionate about denim with a background at Levis. I also met with Candiani denim at the Global Denim Awards and am always impressed by their high quality approach and exclusive craftsmanship.

What is so unique about Japanese denim style and how did you incorporate that into your designs?

I have always been obsessed with japan since I was young. I love the culture and the fashion style. I could spend hours watching people on the street noting how they dress and style their outfits. I find the Japanese denim style very unique, in particular I like the oversized elegant layering and the loose wide leg jeans, there is barely a skinny jean in sight. In Japan people are not afraid to dress differently and I find they really set the trends for the rest of the wold.  I collect a lot of vintage, vintage boro, kimonos, Happi coats, hanten jackets & Japanese ceremony pants. Some of my passion for these pieces was influential for my designs in the KH X TW capsule.

I have a Japanese Hanten jacket, which was an inspiration for the design of the JEANETTE HANTEN. I wanted to create a modern duvet denim version with pockets and a belt exactly how I would dream of wearing it myself.  This collection is very much a part of me, in fact every item is named after a friend of family member.

Much of what is on the runway at the moment is really pushing the boundaries and breaking the status quo of traditional denim design. How have you evolved the denim narrative for this collection?

For me denim style has no boundaries, I find this unique humble fabric fascinating, it grows and develops with age and we reinvent it every season and every year and we will continue to do so for many years to come. For me denim is more than just a pair of jeans.

I wanted to make a unique collection that was wearable yet fun, and embodied my unique denim style. Im not afraid to wear 4 different denim styles in one outfit, I will mix vintage denim with new and wear designer and high street.  Every piece of the collection reflects a part of me. I often favour a baggy silhouette over skinny & tight, and love to layer denim in different shades.

Were there any denim muses you thought about when creating the collection or is it just stuff that that you’d rock on a daily basis?

I wouldn’t say I had a denim muse for the KH X TW capsule but, I guess you could say it’s my ultimate fantasy denim wardrobe turned into reality. Each piece has a story to tell. The DEMI 1983 BAG is named after DEMI MOORE in the film indecent proposal! She carries a bag backpack that I have always loved, this was my inspiration for the bag I created.

Can you tell us about the special scarf that you created the print for. What was the inspiration behind this?

The scarf represents japan through my eyes, So my favourite foods, the wishes that border the scarf I kept from the temple trips. The Cherry blossom flowers represent the fact that although I have been to japan more than 15 times and I have never seen the Cherry blossom! It’s kind of funny….. one day I hope to get to see the cherry blossom bloom.

What’s your favourite piece from the collection and why?

Ohh this is tough! It changes weekly! One of my favourite piece is the ETTA DRESS, this piece will be revealed to the press at NYFW & PARIS. It’s cute and cool at the same time and doubles as a skirt!. I also love the Demi pocket bag as its pretty special piece.

You’re a huge denim addict yourself. What is it about the fabric that you love so much?

I love the blue hue, and the way it ages and tells a story of the wearer, I don’t think any other fabric does that. Denim is timeless, and there are so many ways of wearing it. I also love that anyone anywhere in the world regardless of age, style, gender or religion can wear denim.

Read more on the power of ‘Creative Collaborations’ in WGSN’s A/W 19-20 Denim Big Ideas Report.

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