‘Dream Come True’: First Nations Artist Kylie Caldwell On Her Sell-Out Collab Range With Spell

Spell Kylie Caldwell

In case you missed it, gorj Byron Bay-based brand Spell launched its first-ever collaboration with an artist this week — a capsule collection with the supremely talented Kylie Caldwell.

Caldwell is a proud Bundjalung woman and renowned multi-disciplinary artist, celebrated for her work with weaving, fibre art and painting.

The Spell x Kylie Caldwell collaboration first began around two years ago. Spell’s Head of Brand Mel Carrero saw an artwork of Caldwell’s called “A Beautiful Chaos” and immediately knew it needed to be turned into a textile print.

Caldwell sat down with PEDESTRIAN.TV to talk us through the process of turning artwork into fashion, and explained that it all started with a one-hour chat with Carrero.

I think we sat for about an hour just yarning about the potential opportunities,” Caldwell recalled.

“Then we had a number of conversations because I was interested in where Spell got their stuff made; the fabric they used, and where were they sustainability-wise as well was important. Were they paying their workers fairly, and enough as well? It was all really important for me.”

Kylie Caldwell has always been interested in fashion and said it’s “a dream come true for me to see my artwork on garments that I helped design”.

The seven-piece capsule collection features mini and maxi dresses, a handy multi-use travel scarf (it’s a top! It’s a skirt!), a kimono, a maxi skirt and more. The range features both the vibrant original blue / bright pink colourway of Caldwell’s artwork, and a muted version that Caldwell helped design for the Spell range.

“I think we had maybe 20 test runs for [that colourway] before we found the right brown,” Caldwell told P.TV.

“It had to be perfect. I didn’t want to anything out there that I wasn’t happy with.”

Considering artist collaborations are a new venture for the fashion label, both Spell and Caldwell found themselves navigating the path without much guidance.

‘We entered this collaboration knowing how much we had to learn and sought consultation with many First Nations experts to help us approach the project mindfully and with cultural sensitivity,” Spell’s co-founder Elizabeth Abegg said of the collaborative process.

As a starting point, Spell and Caldwell engaged with First Nations consultants to make sure the process played out ethically and fairly. In the interest of being transparent and sharing their knowledge, Spell has released a publicly available blueprint to help other brands and First Nations artists navigate their way through the collaboration process.

“I think a lot of artists that embark on collaborations don’t have a blueprint, and often make it up as they go,” Caldwell told PEDESTRIAN.TV.

“So this process Spell was working on with consultants and myself, we thought we’d share it in the hope that Aboriginal artists will use that when they first embark on a collaboration.

“It also gives businesses that want to collaborate with our visual artists an opportunity to see a best practice model if they don’t know where to start.”

“The legacy of this collaboration has really been woven with the rich new relationships formed with our First Nations friends, peers and colleagues along the way,” Abegg added.

The range is already a 10/10 success. It went live on Wednesday morning and a line was already queued up at Spell’s Byron Bay boutique when it opened. Several pieces sold out online in five minutes.

“I never imagine that would happen,” Caldwell said of the enthusiastic response from the cult brand’s fans.

I could cry because it’s just been so well received. It’s been so much.”

You can still get your hands on some of the pieces right HERE.

The writer interviewed Kylie Caldwell in Byron Bay as a guest of Spell.