Fiona wears the UPCYCLED DENIM BIKER JACKET || Photo credit: Carina Fischer
Fiona Kotur is the founder of KOTUR, a line of beautiful clutches and minaudieres inspired by a treasure trove of vintage couture pieces. She is also a member of the CFDA and a founding partner of Tory Burch, the label. Since moving from her native New York to Hong Kong, she’s been upcycling her brand’s waste to support Redress and mentoring emerging designers.
Tell us about Kotur and how that relates to your mindset on sustainable fashion.
In 2005, I found a small warehouse filled with incredible vintage brocade remnants from the 1960s and 1970s, originally made for European couture houses. I bought up the inventory and created my first collection of clutches from them. Immediately, Bergdorf Goodman, Browns and Harvey Nichols placed orders, and that was the beginning of KOTUR. The origin of the company completely reflects my view on sustainability - that the history of a piece must be celebrated, along with what makes it unique; and that it must reflect you as an individual.
How did your upbringing and your family influence how you see the world of fashion?
My mother is extremely creative. She has had a career as a fashion designer, interior decorator, artist and illustrator and has always been very chic with a strong personal style. Though my father was not in a creative field, he appreciated the arts and exposed my sister and me to all the culture New York offers from an early age. We would spend weekends at Sotheby’s viewings and gallery openings, or at our 18th century house in the country which my parents restored themselves. My upbringing encouraged and developed a visual vocabulary and love of art and design and also influenced my sister, Alexandra, who went on to build a career over 15 years as Style Director at Vogue.
Why do you like supporting emerging designers, like Kevin and Victor?
I enjoy mentoring fledgling designers in an effort to keep them thinking creatively while navigating the business aspects (involved in running a company). Working with young talent and their new ideas and perspectives keeps me stimulated and revived.
What do you think women are looking for when they shop for timeless yet unique pieces?
I think it’s a bit psychological in that women gravitate to classic pieces because they are timeless and versatile, but also because they are relatable: like a uniform, people have associations with clothing. A well-cut blazer sends one message, a motorcycle jacket another. I think that women buy fashion to express their individuality and classic pieces help them interpret their own style in different ways.
What lifestyle and fashion changes have you made on a personal level to become more sustainable?
When I buy a piece, it remains part of my closet forever. I buy carefully, and rarely discard - it’s an approach I take to everything. I still have my Guess jeans from the tenth grade. I don’t understand the concept of disposable fashion - it’s like fast food. There are many ways I try to be more sustainable, mainly by instilling values in my children not to waste, to have a connection with things and to give them meaning so they treat them with respect.
What suggestions do you have for how people can get involved, which online resources to use, who to follow on social media, and which books to read to help take steps towards a more sustainable way of life?
Buying vintage and pre-owned is a way to support sustainability and give new life to clothes and furniture.