As a fan of the funky iconic-monkey brand, Kipling I was excited to see what they would do to celebrate their 25th birthday. Whereas some brands would probably just re-issue pieces from the archive, or release a crazy collaboration, I love that the Belgium brand got creative with their anniversary and commissioned eight international artists to play with their ‘Classic’ accessories.
America photographer Paul Graves created a Kipling totem pole, Belgium photographer Alex Salinas paid homage to the monkey by simply placing a bag over the head of a suit-wearing guy where its zips resemble the features of a monkey’s face, and my favourite has to be Rankin’s graffiti statement, using a heart-shaped rucksack that becomes the heart in I love K.
I was also lucky enough to chat with Kipling’s marketing director, Isabel van den Broeck, who was so passionate about the brand as well as the company’s home town of Antwerp, where I so want to visit as it sounds amazing.
FB: How did you choose which artists to collaborate with to celebrate your anniversary?
Isabel: We choose our eight focused countries and picked creative people we admired and connected with – people who we felt could surprise us with our iconic bag, with no restraints, just a deadline and we are very happy with the results.
FB: What changes have Kipling undergone in the past 25 years?
Isabel: The biggest change has been how Kipling has moved from being a product driven company to a brand driven one. We don’t have consumers we have ‘imaginistas’, those are the people who understand the spirit of the brand, nothing to do with age all about the way they live. Kipling has gone from just designing to sell to listening to what our ‘imaginistas’ want.
FB: I love the monkey accessory on every bag- why did Kipling choose a monkey?
Isabel: The monkey was chosen by the 3 founders while travelling and the decision to place it on every bag was to include a gift with every purchase. The monkey represents the playfulness of the brand perfectly – also each collection includes a monkey named after a Kipling employee.
FB: There have been some amazing fashion collaborations with the likes of Peter Pilotto and most recently JC De Castelbajac – can we expect any new collaborations for the 25th anniversary?
Isabel: There will be no new fashion collaborations for the anniversary year. In the future yes, and not just fashion, the collaboration has to make sense with a mutual respect and total openness. Collaborations are a great way to broaden our view on our products.
Do you remember your first Kipling purchase? Mine was a navy blue pencil case. My next Kipling buy has to be a funky colour rucksack – yes I want to step back into the 90s.