Interview: The Girls Aloud singer and TV presenter Kimberley Walsh introduces Junior to her new clothing collection Kimba Kids
Kimba Kids: Kimberley Walsh’s Kid’s Clothing Collection
Junior met up with the Girls Aloud star turned designer to discuss her fab new children’s range Kimba Kids, 1980's fashion mistakes and bathing the kids with Cheryl.
Sometimes, just sometimes we suspect that celebrities decide to launch clothing collections on a whim or because someone paid them mega bucks to do it and that they don’t even know how to turn on a washing machine let alone consider whether materials and stitching will withstand children clambering about in them but after 30 minutes with Kimberley Walsh we’re convinced that she is a serious, hands on and super knowledgeable designer with a huge passion for her family run brand. Warm, friendly, chatty and reassuringly honest about the mayhem that comes with raising kids (we discuss baby poo faces and potty training at length) by the time our 30 minute chat is up we are completely smitten with both Kimberley and her clothing collection.
Why did you decide to launch your own kid’s clothing collection?
It was the frustration I felt trying to find clothes for Bobby and then Cole. I was just a bit fed up with there only being nautical type clothing for boys and dinosaur prints absolutely everywhere and everything seemed very samey using very safe colours all the time. I know there are some kids who like to be a bit more expressive with their clothes. I was always a bit reserved before I got into the band but its so nice to be able to experiment with what your wear and I really want my kids to be able to wear whatever they feel like. Your clothes are an expression of who you are so I think its good to have some variety.
You’ve produced the collection with your brother who works in the clothing industry - was that always the plan?
Yes, that was another reason that the whole idea came up in the first place. I said to him I’d love to do this would you be up for it as a bit of a passion project and he was really excited about it. My brother already had access to all the different factories we needed and has all the inside track on fabrics, labelling, everything so that’s an amazing opportunity in itself.
How long has the clothing collection been in development?
Two years in the making since the initial thought. We wanted to get it just right and there’s been a baby in the meantime and just life, so it has taken a bit longer than I thought.
What age is the range for?
It starts from age three so I’m a little bit annoyed I can’t get Cole in it yet!
Do you test out the pieces on friends and family?
I’ve been trying things on my oldest nephew Billy who is actually perfect sample size and I get good feedback from all my friends’ kids. I’m really lucky that I have such a wide circle of friends with children. In some ways boys are a little bit clichéd in what they like and as much as I want to get colour in the collection you have to do it cleverly. I showed them some nude shirts and they weren’t at all impressed so they went. I’m building colour into the prints and I’m excited that summer will give me even more chance to use colour.
Has it been a big learning curve working in fashion?
I can see myself changing how I am in the design meetings and I’m a lot of more confident now. I know exactly what the brand is and what works and what doesn’t and whereas at the beginning I would think something but not necessarily say it I don’t hold back anymore.
What memories do you have of your own clothes when you were little?
Well I was the eighties, so shell suits were very common and my sister and I had matching ones which were horrific! Hers was purple and black and mine was pink and black. Oh, it was horrific! And the puff ball skirts that I used to get my mum to make me!
So fashion design really is something that runs in the family?
My mum was really mean on the sewing machine so we would always ask her to make things. In those days my mum made lots of our clothes because it was a lot cheaper - now cheaper clothes are a lot more readily available - and it meant that we could basically think things up in our heads and get her to make them so we had that creative way of thinking. We would always fall asleep to the sound of her sewing machine. I feel like Kimba Kids is a natural progression from my upbringing and it definitely rubbed off on my brother too.
We’ve noticed that everything in the collection looks perfect for playing in and nothing needs to be ironed…
I don’t iron anything! Unless it’s something for me before an evening out maybe. I wash everything, then dry it and then hang it or fold it straight away so that it doesn’t get creased up. Justin thinks I’m a weirdo because I won’t leave anything in the dryer but if you take the clothes out straight away, you don’t have to iron them and that’s an hour of my life not ironing. I don’t have time for that. We’ve also tried to make the clothes easy to put on so that kids can develop a bit of independence and start dressing themselves. Bobby is getting there - he’s getting better at getting his own clothes on but generally, just as soon as you get them dressed they’ve taken their clothes off again. I’m like. so you can take your clothes off but you can’t put them on?!”
What can we expect to see going forward?
I’m looking at some prints that will work across both the boys’ and girls’ collections so that everyone can do a bit of twinning! I often dress my boys in matching bits, which looks really cute and people always love that and comment but if you’ve got a boy and a girl you can’t really do that which I think is a bit rubbish, so that’s something I’m thinking about for next Spring/Summer.
What about twinning with you?
I love it when you can buy matching clothes to your little ones - I fall for that every time so I think we might do some limited edition bigger pieces for grown-ups in the future.
We asked Kimberley what her essentials are for her boys when she's travelling or at home...
1. I’ve got one of those thermometers that you can attach to your phone which is really good when you’re away and its so much scarier when you can’t just run them to the doctors. I always take that so you know if you’re getting into a danger zone and you can do something about it. Nurofen for Children FeverSmart Temperature Monitor, £55.67, Amazon
2. Nail clippers because my little one still accidentally scratches his face. John Lewis Ergonomic Baby Nail Clippers, £4.00, John Lewis
3. If we need something smart, Next is great. When we go away I always pack a couple of shirts for them to be a bit smarter for an evening out but they rarely end up wearing them. White Stripe Long Sleeve Linen Blend Shirt, £10-£11, Next
4. A Kimba Kids sweatshirt. Perfect for pulling on when it gets chilly. Kimba Kids by Kimberley Walsh K Logo Sweatshirt, £20-£23, Next
5/6. Calpol and Sudocrem are standard. I packed the Calpol sachets on our last trip as they take up a bit less room.
7. I was at Cheryl’s yesterday and we were bathing the boys and she was using Fifi & Friends and that does smell nice. Cole was so funny. He was washing Bear like he thought he was a little baby. It’s so funny because they’re the same age but because there was a point when Bear was tiny and Cole was like a toddler he still thinks he's much older. He was kissing him and washing him and Bear was a bit like, "Alright mate! Leave me alone!" I think he thinks he needs to look after him. It was really, really cute! Fifi & Friends Baby Wash, £8.00, Fifi & Friends
Our top picks from the Kimba Kids Collection
We loved these easy to wear, soft jersey pieces that are perfect for playing in while standing out from the crowd.
1. Kimba Kids by Kimberley Walsh K Logo Sweat, £20-£23, Next
2. Kimba Kids by Kimberley Walsh Printed Drop Waist Dress £22-£26, Next
3. Kimba Kids by Kimberley Walsh Green All Over Print Long Sleeve Top, £16-£18, Next
4.Kimba Kids by Kimberley Walsh Navy Printed T-Shirt £14-£16, Next
5. Kimba Kids by Kimberley Walsh K Logo Sweatshirt, £20-£23, Next
6. Kimba Kids by Kimberley Walsh Print Peplum Tee £19-£22, Next