Astrid Chastka and Kalen Kaminski are the creators of Upstate, a line of clothing and accessories that feature Shibori, a Japanese method of dying using various techniques. Where I come from, we call it tie-dye. They make every piece themeselves, turning each one out in their new studio space in Brooklyn, which makes every piece one of a kind.
I’ve become a fan by watching my girlfriend wear the scarf my mother bought her for occasions of all stripes. I’ve also admired their collaborations with Archival Clothing and Fairends. Recently, they shared their fall lookbook with me, and I was compelled to interview them.
The result is below.
All Plaidout: It would appear you’ve taken a real leap beyond a base of accessories
into designing a full line. Am I mistaken in that observation?
Kalen: You are correct! Upstate began as an indigo scarf line. Now the sky is the limit! We can’t stop designing. We are even developing a home line which is exciting.
Astrid: We have started to learn about fabric printing techniques outside Shibori. There are so many ways to turn fabric into art.
APO: In prior seasons, your pieces felt like accents, like side dishes. This season, you have a bunch of main courses on the menu. Can you talk about the leap you’ve made?
K: Haha, we are main course girls at heart. It happened organically. We each came to the table with designs we wanted to wear everyday. It began with simple shirts and dresses. Our curiosity lead us to create more technical pieces and encouraged us to explore additions like pockets, buttons, pants, zippers, and leather. It’s been an exciting and fun process for us.
APO: Are you two designing these pieces yourself? Still dying — by and large — in your apartment?
A: Yes we design everything. Until about a couple months ago, we were dyeing everything in our bathtubs. We recently signed a lease for a studio. We have a large sink, and a washer and dryer in there. No more slinging buckets to and from the laundromat.
APO: Well, I’m excited for you guys. The line looks great, and I anticipate great things to come as you continue to grow and expand your offerings.
It’s time for rapid fire.
APO: Favorite Book?
K: Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast.
A: Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything.
K: This is so so hard but I’m going to stick to a classic: Music from Big Pink by The Band.
A: Paul Simon’s Graceland.
APO: Happiness is….
K: Lots of laughing.
A: Feeling healthy and being in the wilderness.
APO: Misery is….
K: Lack of sleep!
A: Endless winters….
Here’s to spring, and here’s to Upstate. Special thanks to Astrid and Kalen for the time. Looking forward to more great things from you guys in the future.