K A Y L E N E – M I L N E R – T H E – C A R M E N

 Kaylene Milner has collaborated with Carmen Hamilton from The Chronicles of Her to launch a made-to-order cable knit dress aptly named “The Carmen”.

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Originally a one-off, Kaylene decided to invest in her own knitting machine to satisfy the demand from Carmen’s blog post which first featured the dress in orange. The overwhelming response of the collaboration has Kaylene placing her sights on knitwear, steering her eponymous label into an ethical made-to-order knitwear direction. All I’ve Heard had a chat with Kaylene Milner, about the change in direction for her label.

1. The Carmen is no doubt a work of knitted art, where did you draw influence for this beautiful garment?

The original garment was part of my graduation range, which was inspired overgrown textures in nature. I wanted the cables to be part traditional cabling/part wild vines mapping the contours of the body.
2. Originally a one-off piece, what made you decide to invest your knitting talents and your label into an ethical made-to-order direction?
After Carmen from Chronicles of Her posted photos of herself wearing the dress, I was flooded with emails from people asking how they could buy the dress. I set to work trying to find a knitwear manufacturer who could replicate the dress, however I was unable to find one who could faithfully replicate the dress without compromising design details. So rather than admitting defeat, I purchased a domestic knitting machine, and taught myself how to operate the intimidating piece of machinery. Originally I had not foreseen it would result in such an ethical way of producing. The fact that there is no wastage sits well with me, and I only make as many dresses as I have orders.
3. Has knitwear always been a key trend throughout the labels existence? 
I have included knitwear in each collection I have produced so far. I still have so much to learn, which I intend to explore through each subsequent collection.
4. Through the introduction of this slow-fashion line what do you hope to create for your customers?
I hope to create a “slow fashion” garment that my customers can cherish for a long time. I also really enjoy engaging directly with customers, and hearing which aspects of the garment they would like altered to suit their needs. It’s not something that customers can generally experience in this age of fast fashion.
5. With this change of direction to the label, do you think you will be able gain a wider clientele?
I’m not sure if it will be a wider clientele, or a more focused clientele, who appreciate the time and effort which goes into each piece. I guess only time will tell.
6. Your garments are made to be cherished and worn year after year; do you think for that matter they will be more appealing to your buyers as one-off pieces? 
The customers who engage with me are aware that this is a dress that I make myself, and that they will have to wait a few weeks before receiving it (unlike instant gratification purchases from Zara etc). It’s proving to be quite a timeless design though, so I think it’s worth the wait.
7. You are currently taking orders for made-to-order pieces, how has the demand been so far?
Let’s just say I’ve been able to keep up with the demand so far, but only just!
The made-to-order piece can now be purchased exclusively online at: www.kaylenemilner.com
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