Designer Summer Gribble from KAISO. Image supplied.
Summer Gribble is the designer behind contemporary handbag label KAISO which she launched in mid-2018. Her modern designs are inspired by her Carribean heritage and sharp eye for versatile designs. Each piece is handmade in her Auckland studio with the designer also inspired by her mother’s and grandmother’s style in the 1970’s. Summer returned to Barbados earlier in the year to shoot KAISO’s first campaign which reflects the unique beauty and style of Bajan women.
We caught up with Summer to find out more about her brand, what inspires her and what you would never catch her wearing!
Tell us about your latest collection?
My latest collection focuses on a revamped version of my first release: the Griot handbag. It’s a multi-wear leather handbag that can be worn in four different ways and comes in two sizes. Functionality and versatility are extremely important to me! This season I’ve added a beautiful new colour to the range: Sage, as well as additional strap lengths for increased customisation.
What made you become a designer?
It’s something that I’ve secretly wanted to do for ages. I’ve always been creative (I have my parents to thank for that) and my background is in Fine Arts, but it’s taken a while for me to get to this point. Lots of different jobs along the way! It took a long time to build up the courage to just give it a go. I think the fashion world has always seemed quite scary and exclusive to me and I was worried that I wouldn’t be “good enough”. But then I went through a pretty tough time where there was a lot of change and loss in my life, and I thought “well, what have you got to lose?”
What inspires you?
Intelligent design, particularly in architecture, furniture or objects – I like things that make sense and are well-considered and beautiful at the same time; Where neither form nor function have been compromised. My Caribbean heritage. Vintage photos of my mum and grandmother (they both had great style!) and my sister who’s definitely inherited that from them.
Model Ashlee with handbags by KAISO from the brand’s campaign shoot in Barbados. Images by Kyle Babb.
Describe your personal style and how it influences your designs?
I like to imagine an ideal version of myself where all of the clothes in my wardrobe are things I absolutely love and feel great in and that people see me and think “Consistently great style – how does she do it?” In reality I’m a pretty low-maintenance person. I hardly ever wear jewellery or makeup. I wear a lot of second-hand stuff, I’m trying to be more conscious in the things that I buy; Buying second-hand or buying quality items that will age well and last a long time. I love a good pair of jeans. I think my designs embody the version of myself that I hope to become: put-together, sophisticated but unfussy, considered but effortless.
What is your all-time favourite purchase?
Tough question! From a practical point of view, I found a great Karen Walker wool coat at Tatty’s that has seen me through a number of winters now, with sleeves roomy enough to fit over an oversized sweater without making one look like the abominable snowman.
What wardrobe item should everyone invest in?
I’m gonna say a good pair of jeans, because I practically live in them and they’re just a great wardrobe staple.
Do you have a style rule you always obey?
I can’t say that I have hard and fast rules about what I wear; if it’s out there I’ve probably worn it (not always a good choice I’ll admit!) I think I’m pretty open to most things to be honest – just depends on my mood.
Summer (right) on set for KAISO’s campaign shoot with model Ashlee (left) in Barbados.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
This is going to sound so lame, but literally just launching my brand last year. It’s been a big personal journey to get to this point. To have seen it through and have it be a real thing in the world has been really rewarding.
What can’t you live without?
Chocolate? Dessert in general really.
Finish this sentence – You would never catch me wearing…
You know, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this and I’m actually not sure it exists! Take from that what you will…