Central Saint Martins alumni Alexandra Hadjikyriacou and Jaimee McKenna are designing womenswear with a hands-on approach, made to be worn from morning to night
Who is it? Alexandra Hadjikyriacou and Jaimee McKenna, founders of London-based womenswear label Kepler, first met while studying textile design at Central Saint Martins. “Jaimee was one of the first people I ever spoke to when I came to the UK from Cyprus,” says Hadjikyriacou, speaking from the pair’s studio. “When we both graduated, we were feeling so dissatisfied with what we were working on respectively,” she continues. “So one evening, we went for dinner and decided to start collaborating ... And the rest is history.”
The brand has now been up and running for four years, finding its feet among London’s emerging designers as a knitwear-focused label with process and technique at its core – everything that Kepler produces is made by hand at independent studios and factories, either in London, Cyprus, Manchester or China. “Even though we are technically within the realm of ‘emerging London designers’, we never sought to be a cog in that machine,” says McKenna. “And really, we still aren’t now. We don’t want to get ourselves into a place of having to produce, produce, produce. Making things by hand is so key to what we do and we want to keep it that way.”
Why do I want it? The tagline on Kepler’s Instagram account would attest to this. “A meaningful and mindful approach to womenswear” is reflective of the hours of painstaking work put into sculptural dresses, sheer tops with intricate cut-outs and pleated sleeves and sweaters that feel homespun and contemporary in equal measure. Crafted from natural fibres such as organic cotton, linen and lambswool, many of Kepler’s pieces achieve a luxurious, Missoni-esque quality from the use of lightweight Japanese silk. “We really just can’t get enough of working with silk,” says Hadjikyriacou, laughing.
Yet despite the often delicate nature of their materials, the Kepler woman doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty now and again, with Hadjikyriacou and McKenna making clothes that don’t want to be treated as “precious”. “We are really inspired by our friends and the people we know who have very busy, creative jobs,” says McKenna. “When we’re designing, we always ask each other first and foremost: ‘would we wear this?’ If the answer is no, it won’t get made. We envisage the Kepler woman being someone who really lives in our pieces – a woman who is very adaptable who would wear the same piece of clothing from the morning to the evening, no questions.” In the future, the pair have plans to take their ‘meaningful’, ‘mindful’ and hands-on approach even further, offering bespoke services for clients.
With their latest collection just released in February, and plans to potentially expand into bridalwear, Kepler is proof that sometimes staying independent and marching to the beat of your own drum (or knitting needles) is the way to go.