Style File: Anna Kiousis from KASMIRI
Anna Kiousis is the founder of luxurious cashmere brand KASMIRI which she launched in June 2020. Each beautiful piece is carefully crafted by artisans in Nepal from high quality cashmere which is ethically sourced. Anna first fell in love with cashmere over 20 years ago and still treasures the pieces she has had for many years. KASMIRI is Anna's way of sharing her love of cashmere and creating timeless garments and accessories that can be worn for years to come before being passed on to the next generation.
We caught up with Anna to find out more about her brand, what inspires her and what you would never catch her wearing.
Tell us about your latest collection?
The latest KASMIRI collection focus is luxury travel wraps, scarves, ponchos, robes and even throws for lounging. The collection is all about treating yourself to a timeless cashmere piece that will accompany you throughout all your life's stories. Our collection is also perfect for gifting those you love without worrying about styles and sizing. I adore colour and our collection has spectacular hues from orchid pinks and Tibetan red to harvest and blues to spice up your neutrals. KASMIRI also has delicious natural colours including sand, latte, navy, grey, rich olive and black for those who prefer a more classic look.
What made you become a designer?
My Greek mother was a professional dressmaker and designer and as a child my earliest recollections were sitting in my mother's cutting room playing with ribbons, cotton reels and luxurious fabrics while she sculptured fantastic leading edge high fashion dresses for her upmarket clientele.
My mother taught me the importance of texture and how to turn beautiful fabrics into works of art.
What inspires you?
The women who make the KASMIRI inspire me. I travelled to Nepal in 1999 as an International Aid Consultant and met a group of women knitting and weaving with cashmere in the backstreets of Kathmandu. The studio was filled with laughter as the women chatted amongst themselves while weaving the most beautiful cashmere products. The studio was packed ceiling high with a kaleidoscope of coloured cashmere and hypnotic chants from the Tibetan monks could be heard from the monastery behind the studio. It was a very hedonistic time, a happy time and I found myself spending hours over several days with the women learning about their lives, their craft and their hopes for the future. I've never forgotten them, and last year, full of nostalgia, I found and reconnected with them.
To keep up with demand for KASMIRI, we've employed more women artisans. There is no mass machinery here, everything is crafted by hand and although it takes much longer, it's worth it for preserving tradition, providing employment to our artisans and joy to our customers who fall in love with KASMIRI.
KASMIRI is about promoting a circular economy. Connecting the skills of our artisan weavers in Nepal who produce a luxurious, beautiful product to customers who appreciate luxury. Not only are we providing employment to our artisans but also contributing a portion of our profits to girls' education initiatives in Nepal. Nepal has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world and I am passionate about creating a better future for girls, one girl at a time. Creating a business with heart is the most inspirational part of KASMIRI.
Describe your personal style and how it influences your designs?
My rich Tibetan red wrap I bought from the same artisans more than 20 years ago. I have worn it everywhere. The day after I bought it, I wore it and walked into a meeting at Tilganga Eye Hospital in Nepal where I met my husband and fell in love. I wore it on all my travels from the tea plantations in Darjeeling and the foothills of the Himalayas to Tokyo at Christmas. When I moved from Sydney to Auckland where I had my first born, I wrapped her up with my Tibetan red wrap to keep her warm and loved in those first few weeks of her life.
It remains my all-time favourite not only because it's versatile and keeps me warm but because it carries with it many memories of my life - every time I wear it, I am reminded of the women who made it for me, the adventures I've had and the incredible life I've led.
What wardrobe item should everyone invest in?
I would have to say a cashmere wrap or scarf. It's so superior, keeps you much warmer, more luxurious to touch and adds sophistication to any outfit. It's comforting and timeless elegance. There is something sensual about a cashmere wrap that makes them quite addictive. I can never stop at just one colour...
Do you have a style rule you always obey?
I think it's important to wear what you feel comfortable in and by doing so you exude confidence.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I've had many highlights throughout my career. For decades I was an International Aid Consultant working in developing countries including Papua New Guinea, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal where I focused on projects to enable women to be economically sustainable. I've been fortunate to have many experiences from the war zone of Sri Lanka's north east to tribal weddings in the desert of Pakistan and establishing silk farms in Bangladesh - it's all been incredibly valuable and insightful. Along the way, I've met artisans who make the most beautiful items but rarely have access to markets for their products.
Establishing KASMIRI is the culmination of all these experiences and learnings. For me, KASMIRI presents a valuable opportunity to connect the Nepalese artisans who weave and knit the purest cashmere to markets in the "developed world" and promote a circular economy whilst also preserving the artisan's techniques that have been passed down to them by their ancestors.
What can't you live without?
My cashmere robe for lounging, my long boots made by hand in a village in Italy, family and music to stir my soul.
Finish this sentence - You would never catch me wearing....
Doc Martens...my 13 years old loves them...I simply don't understand it.