Fashion has always been a huge part of Kara Liu’s life. After interning for Alexander Wang in New York City, the designer felt compelled to create her own label and thus, Interval was born. A label built around a need for luxurious, versatile basics, Interval has just been picked up by Australian retail giant Myer and has hit the heavyweight department store’s Melbourne, Chadstone, Sydney, Bondi, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide locations. Couturing spoke to head designer Kara Liu about how her fashion career began, her advice for aspiring designers, and what the Myer acquisition means to her and her label.
Tell us how you entered the fashion industry. Has fashion always been a big part of your life?
I consider my entry into the industry quite traditional – the standard 3-step of “study, intern, work”. I graduated from RMIT’s Bachelor of Design (Fashion), interned at Alexander Wang in New York and then with Glue Store in Sydney, now working on Interval. I’ve always painted and sketched (mostly houses and clothes) as a hobby since I was little. But fashion didn’t become a big part of my life until later in high school. In fact, I come from a family of doctors and it was my goal to become one. But one days I just decided that I want to pursue a creative career and ditch medicine, and the rest is history.
Tell us how Interval came to be.
It’s probably true to say (for most of us) that we live a busy, almost chaotic life. I personally very much enjoy the serenity of that moment of solitude, a little bit of time and space to yourself. It could be just those short but nice moments in between. ‘Interval’ is that moment in time and space in between that are just to yourself, an interlude of life, it’s ‘mindful living’. I try to recreate that feeling in clothes that are clean, beautifully understated, effortlessly elegant. They are clothes that fit seamlessly into a women’s life. You don’t have to think too hard about how to wear an Interval garment. It should be your ‘go-to sweater’, of ‘favourite weekday top’, simply put it on and feel elegant and at ease.
How does the design process begin for you? How long does each collection take to put together?
It’s a very organic process. I never really start the range with a specific concept or theme in mind. The inspiration are collected from daily life as separate, unrelated pieces of raw information. And it could be anything – something I saw, read, an interesting conversation I had with someone, a unique fabric I sourced overseas, a detail that I thought of and sewn up.. It is when I put it together, and go through the process of elimination, the collection start to make sense, take shape and form a coherent message. On average, it takes between two to three months to put a collection together.
How would you describe the quintessential Interval woman?
She is feminine but not girly; refined and effortlessly sexy. She has a very profound sense or personal style, she knows what is trending but does not let it dictate what she wears. To her, less is more; quality is more important than quantity. She understands and appreciates a well cut piece of garment and finer fabrics such as silk and merino wool. She believes in adding little elements of luxury and beauty to all aspects of life, not just in what she wears. She is probably in her late 20s, but she could be anywhere between 20 to 40.
What does being stocked to Myer mean to you? In what ways does your label align with the Myer customer?
Being stocked in Myer in the Interval’s infancy, for me, is extremely humbling. It’s an amazing opportunity and a dream come true. Myer is such an Iconic Australian department store. It has always supported homegrown brands and has been the launch pad for many local designers. It will be a great environment for Interval to build and mature as a label.
Are there any trends you’re looking forward to seeing and embracing this season? And are there any trends you’d like to see put to rest?
Looking forward to the cooler weathers for the long over long layered dressing! Personally, just because I am quite a minimal person, I think i’ve seen enough of the 70s trend.
Do you have any advice for aspiring fashion designers?
Most of us started off aiming to work in the high end of the industry. I was the same. However, after working in the high end and the commercial end of the market, I understood that I wanted to create garments that are closer to people’s lives. Once I figured out what kind of designer i am, my path became a lot clearer. Unlike most other industries, there is no standard steps of ‘how to make it’ in our industry. My advise is to know or figure out what kind of designer you are, and of course work hard to get to where you want to be. Don’t be afraid of mistakes and rejections, they make you mature faster as a designer.