Bright Side Stories - Cath Kidston
Designing Cath Kids - Cath Kidston

Every season, our dream team of in-house print designers whip up a world of wonderful adventure for collections bursting with story and joy. No more so than for our Cath Kids prints, renowned for the fun to be found for little ones and the sense of nostalgia they ignite for adults.

As we trip head-first into back-to-school prep (really, where did this year go?) and ready our kids for mission term-return and Taking Back Mondays, Cath Kids takes centre stage for us. So, we caught up with George and Esther to take a peek at the world behind the prints, to talk inspirations, old classics and future favourites.

Kids fashion designer - Cath Kidston
But first, let us introduce you.


Cath Kidston designer

Our Junior Print Designer, George, started with Cath on an internship in 2018, left and then returned in October last year. (Lucky us). Her role involves a lot of creative work – honing palettes, drawing, painting and preparing designs ready to be printed on to fabric.

She loves the creative freedom of her job and adding her own illustrative style to the classic Cath Kidston world.


Cath Kidston Designer

Esther is our Senior Designer, creating the shapes and styles for kids clothing, bags and accessories and ladies fashion. Having worked for British big-hitters like Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen and Jasper Conran, Esther joined our team at Cath Kidston just over a year ago.

Her love of colour, print and a huge personal collection of vintage clothing inspires her work every day and she loves sketching new and exciting shapes to turn into wearable designs for our community of customers.


Where do you draw inspiration from when designing for CathKids?

We get a lot of our kids print inspiration from vintage conversational fabrics, themes within children picture books and looking through our print archive. There’s always something that can spark a new idea.


For me, I find my inspiration from getting out and about. Portobello Market in Notting Hill, vintage archives in London and Paris, The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, art books. But also, favourite childhood memories and looking at what people love to wear and makes them feel happy.


Do you use your own childhood memories to feed into the design process?

I personally love looking through children’s picture books that I used to read in my childhood. Having those beautiful illustrations and characters took me to another world which I always try to do when designing a print.


I love looking through old photo albums at the clothes we used to wear as children. I look for design inspiration from traditional styles and bring this nostalgia to life with a new spin.


What is different about designing for Cath Kids than for our adult ranges?

There is more room to explore the conversational themes in a print when designing for kids. Bold colours and energy in the drawing make the print more fun for children who love to pick out their favourite characters.


Kids can wear lots of crazy colours and prints together and still look amazing! When I design for Kids, I want to make sure they look fun, but that they are comfortable to wear and you can still climb trees in them.

Designing for adults, you have a few more restrictions design wise. You have to consider what is more flattering on the body, for example. However, we do get so many requests to make adult sizes of our little girl’s dresses - I am looking at doing more of this for next season.

Cath Kids Vintage inspiration - Cath Kidston


Our prints are famous for being so fun and full of imagination - what has been your favourite one to design to date?

My favourite print I’ve designed so far is for our Autumn 21 collection, I can’t wait to show everyone when it is out. It is packed full of cute characters that would make anyone smile. It was a joy to design and hopefully will bring joy to the children wearing it.


My favourite print is the original Cath Kidston Cowboy print. For me it is quintessential Cath and sparks an emotion for home and childhood play.


How do you keep coming up with new ideas every season?

Each new season the print designers hand draw new prints which starts the creative process. I will look for something that sparks an idea or a mood for a new collection. This might be a piece of vintage lace, a button or a postcard. The new season is always very exciting.


Tell us about the best adventure you’ve been on that helped inspire you for Cath Kids?

When I first started working at Cath Kidston, looking through the archive was an adventure! It was amazing to see the collections of vintage pieces, toys and books that had been collected over time. Something as small as a fabric swatch or a vintage tea set can spark inspiration.


I love trawling Portobello market in Notting Hill every Friday morning. You never know what you will find there. It’s a treasure trove! I also love Paris flea markets, and the cobbled streets of Copenhagen for inspiration. There is always an amazing exhibition to visit at one of the many art galleries in London. I loved Tim Walker ‘Wonderful Things’ at The V&A.

Cath Kids vintage inspiration
Cath Kidston design sketches


One of favourite prints has got to be the Skateboarding Dino, where did that print come from?

The original dinosaur is a brand icon and has been on a journey with us at Cath Kids. The first inspiration came from a trip to the natural history museum, and after rampaging through London in our AW19 print, they’ve taken up a new hobby: skateboarding. We love to bring icons back and place them into current reality or fun activities that children can relate to.


What was the inspiration for Unicorn Meadow?

Originally, it was inspired by a sweet childhood memory from a Madonna song called ‘Dear Jessie’. The print is filled with fantasy elements that spark imagination and world building for little ones.


Our prints are all about transporting us, what adventures do our Back to School prints take you on?

The seaside shells print transports me straight to Cornwall, the beautiful illustrations remind me of rock pooling on sunny days at the beach.


For me, the prints hark back to childhood memories of the Summer holidays - which always seemed so long. I used to love going ‘back to school’ when I was a little girl - because this meant choosing a new pencil case and shiny shoes.

Cath Kidston designing
vintage shoes - Cath Kidston inspiration


How did you choose the colour palettes of these prints?

Colour palettes come from archive colours and vintage swatches. This season they were picked to evoke the colours of a sun soaked summer.


I think the soft feminine palette of the unicorn meadow print really enhances the whole mood for a fresh summer feel. Combined with the earthy bright and bold colours in prints like Dino and Camo, the palette really enhances and brings to life the characters.


Once the prints have been dreamt up and designed, what is the next step in the process?

The next step is seeing the prints come to life on the product. The kids team work closely together to choose the right product for each print. This is also the perfect time to pull out characters from the prints so we can design interactive backpacks and t-shirts which are full of life!


If you could get away with wearing any Cath Kids print from our range right now, what would it be?

I love the ‘in the sky’ print, the colour palette is so wearable, and anything that will take me on an adventure is always a winner.


I’m a sucker for anything with strawberries on but, if I could get one in my size - I would wear the “speedy boats” shirt and matching shorts. It looks very cool and reminds me of Elvis Presley in the 1961 film ‘Blue Hawaii’.

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