Unravelled Stories. Meet: Sharin from Kiyo

It’s likely your sock drawer is home to a host of characters: you’ll find some dependable pairs, ones that have seen better days and lone singles missing their other halves. A lot of the time, we barely give our sock selection a second thought. But Melbourne couple Sharin and Thanh saw the potential of funky toe coverings back in 2020. In the midst of lockdown, they launched Kiyo, a brand dedicated to socks mainly made from certified organic cotton. Inspired by nature and Sharin’s work as a motion designer, Kiyo creates colourful yet minimalist socks you’ll be scrounging around your sock drawer to wear.

Interview by Maggie Zhou

TSS: Tell me, why socks? What made you focus your label on this particular garment?

Sharin: I started Kiyo with my partner during lockdown (now it's more just me, and my partner helps out with the backend stuff). We both love funky socks. And I feel like socks are quite universal: you can wear them casually, formally and even just at home. 

I found that it was hard to find sustainable socks that have designs that I liked. Most sustainable socks are plain, and most funky socks aren't sustainable. Even if there's a funky sock made with sustainable garment, the designs are a bit too much for me. So I want to design something funky, yet minimalistic.

TSS: How has your work in motion design influenced Kiyo?

Sharin: Back when I started my motion design and animation journey, I used to do a lot of linework animation (think those Disclosure drawings/sketches). I feel like the simple linework suits my vision for Kiyo: they're still fun, yet a bit more ‘trendy’. I also use a lot of vibrant colours in my motion design work, so that kind of inspires Kiyo's colours too.

TSS: Can you discuss your approach to sustainable and ethical fashion?

Sharin: The main thing for our products is that, as much as they can be, they're made with sustainable materials. Kiyo socks are made with 75% organic cotton socks (OCS and GOTS certified). On top of that, I wanted to work with a manufacturer that is ethical and that has a low minimum order quantity. Our manufacturer is in Indonesia and they have all sorts of certifications and annual audits, such as Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX and BSCI. 

It'll probably be too long for me to talk about those, but you can read more info on our sustainability here. We don't release new collections often at all. We want to make sure that our current stock is finished first before producing more. We absolutely do not want to waste any products.  

TSS: What influences Kiyo's colours and patterns?

Sharin: Honestly everything! From nature to my dreams, haha. I simplify every inspiration into linework. For example, there are socks called River, Faces, Bunaken (an area in Indonesia that is famous for their coral reefs) and Mimpi (which means ‘dream’ in Indonesian). 

They're all quite vivid and detailed inspirations, but I oversimplify them into lines. Most of the colours are also kind of inspired by my past motion design work. I also look at the way fashion and/or local designers use colours. Brands like Suku, Molly Godddard, even Jacquemus. Anything fun, dreamy and bold.

TSS: What are you proudest of in Kiyo's journey so far?

Sharin: Probably when we got featured in Frankie magazine! It was our first print magazine feature, and it just felt so unreal.

TSS: Can you share any upcoming projects or plans for the future you have in the works?

Sharin: To be honest, last year we slowed down and we’ll probably continue to this year. We just keep selling products but have no specific plans for the future. We're taking it easy! Although, there is one thing that (might) happen. We sent our socks to this local TV show production. We can't really say more, because we're not 100% sure yet if they'll end up using our socks for the show, or if we can spot any sock action at all. The show is coming out this year, I guess you'll just have to keep an eye on our socials (wish us luck).