File On Style Interview: Nikki Silverthorne of Kooey Australia


Designed and made in Western Australia, Kooey is an entirely Australian owned and operated swimwear label.

Fully ‘home grown’, the label is also inspired by Australia. Each season Kooey’s design team, Nikki Silverthorne and Charlene Harmer focus on a specific area of the Australian landscape. Featuring bold styles and striking colors, each collection includes one pieces, bikinis and separates as well as resort wear.

Their signature prints are designed by Kooey print artist, Anne Hanning. An Indigenous Australian artist from Central Australia, Anne has created a unique contemporary style that echoes her interpretation of the Australian country and culture.

File on Style caught up with Nikki Silverthorne to get further insight into the design team and label.

Stemming from an idea of unique design and artistic origin, Kooey has become an internationally recognized brand participating at Rosemount Australian Fashion Week, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Swim in Miami, Los Angeles Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week events. Kooey has been a major sponsor for Miss Universe Australia since 2009 and is the Official Swimwear Sponsor for the 2011 MISS TEEN USA® Pageant.

What is the inspiration for your next collection?

Each season the Kooey collection is inspired by a different area of the Australian landscape. Our 11/12 collection was inspired by the Australian Central Desert, referencing the striking colors and shapes of the desert’s spectacular landscape with bold styles and rich colors.

What is your favourite piece from the collection?

I really love our Plunging Neck Maillot. The low back shows just enough skin to be sexy but also gives you the full coverage of a one piece. Our suits are always both fashion-forward and functional, great for looking good and relaxing by the pool as well as swimming or surfing at the beach.

Are their any celebrities/artists/icons that you take inspiration from when designing?

Our inspiration comes from the colors and shapes of the Australian landscape, but there are certainly celebrities that I admire for their style.

What are your style staple pieces?

A great fitted blazer and a killer pair of heels. They are the kind of pieces you can wear with almost any outfit.

Do you have a shopping weakness?

Definitely Shoes. I have about 200 pairs and a room at home just for them.

Do you have to spend to be stylish?

I think you should invest in your staples such as jeans, a great white shirt and an amazing black dress, then each season supplement those pieces with the latest trends. You certainly don’t have to spend to be stylish, especially when places like H&M and Target are now collaborating with amazing designers to make their clothing more accessible.

Which fashion designers have been important points of reference or inspiration for you?

It’s always important to keep up-to-date with other designers collections, what they have done and where they are going. As a designer, each season you need to have the foresight to know the upcoming trends but also the confidence to have your own point of view.

What has been the greatest challenge for you so far?

Breaking into new markets. At the moment we are working on growing the label in the Australian, US and UK markets, each one has their own set of challenges.

What has been you career highlight?

Every year there is a new highlight as we continue to grow as a brand. This year we are showing at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Swim in Miami and it will be our first solo show in the US which is very exciting for us.

What kind of advice can you offer to aspiring designers?

Nothing happens overnight. Running a successful label requires patience, perseverance, determination and a lot of hard work. While raw talent is obviously important, you also need to know your business and the industry inside out, while always having a strong vision and point of difference for each collection.

Big thanks to Mercedes-Benz, Kooey Australia Swimwear, & File On Style.