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Hey, I Like Your Style! Exploring the wardrobe of Sydney-based pop artist and model, Kavi

IMAGE VIA @KLUBKAVI/INSTAGRAM

WORDS BY IZZY WIGHT

Fits inspired by Japanese workwear, Naarm’s dance music scene and ’90s celebrity airport style.

We know personal style is a journey (I’m looking at you, Tumblr years), so we’ve introduced a new series Hey, I Like Your Style!, diving into the fashion psyche of our favourite creatives. We’re talking the good, the bad and the 2007.

While the internet has made our fashion icons feel closer than ever before, even the most effortless of outfits came from a closet with some (well-dressed) skeletons. Clickable product tags, photo archives and lives chronicled in 30-second clips just don’t tell the full story.


For more fashion news, shoots, articles and features, head to our Fashion section.


These are the stories behind the wardrobes, exploring how we develop our own personal style. There’s a brilliance behind the way we choose to express ourselves and at FJ, we know every outfit has a story.

This week, we’re delving into the personal style of Malaysian-born, Eora-based pop artist and model, Karvesh Pillai (Kavi). Growing up in a conservative Hare Krishna household, Kavi’s fashion sense began blossoming under the colourful lights of Melbourne’s queer club scene. Several years and one debut EP later, he reflects on his style journey so far.

Who are you and what do you like to wear?

 

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A post shared by kavi ✧ (@klubkavi)


I’m Kavi! I’m a pop artist and model, originally from Naarm/Melbourne and now based in Eora/Sydney. I love wearing fits inspired by Japanese workwear, Naarm’s dance music scene, as well as ’90s celebrity airport style. I’m also a big believer in a hot pair of sleek sunglasses.

What has your style evolution looked like? Do you feel like you’ve gained confidence in the way you dress?

My family immigrated to Australia when I was a child. I think many children of immigrants have a shared experience of growing up and learning the value of a dollar. ‘Practicality over expression’ defined the way I dressed well into my late teens. I was buying plain, unbranded jumpers because they were on sale, or selecting pants two sizes too big to get the most wear out of them as I grew.

Op shopping through university in Naarm allowed me to experiment with what I wore (still working that dollar to the fullest), kickstarting my journey of self-expression through style. It’s cool to look back on my childhood and realise how aspects of the way I dressed then have stayed with me. I love boxy, monochrome tops for their sleek minimalism, often paired with the casual comfort of oversized-yet-structured pants.

 

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I love that I got to experience that journey in a place like Naarm. I view Melbourne as a city that fuses the refinement of European high fashion with the casual minimalism of Japanese workwear, with a focus on comfort. That’s still sort of the mental brief I give myself when I shop for new clothes. Lots of structured denim, lots of boxy office shirts and trousers. Plenty of black, too.

A while after moving to Sydney, I worked as a studio assistant to my incredibly talented friend Ari, the founder and owner of Kiko Vintage. Ari taught me almost everything I now know about archival fashion and vintage designers. While I still love my op shop finds, I’ve come to appreciate the timelessness of a good investment piece.

 

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A post shared by kavi ✧ (@klubkavi)


The way I dress has become a fundamental source of self-confidence. It’s an extension of my identity, and I feel good when I dress well. There’ve been times when my style has served as armour for me, especially in the past year. Moving cities through a pandemic did a number on my mental health. I’ve discovered a creative catharsis in curating a look.

Personal style is a journey. Have you ever felt like you needed to fit into a particular fashion box?

Omg, yes. I went to an all-boys high school with a wildly problematic locker-room culture. I was acutely conscious of making sure I didn’t stand out as anything other than straight, which was a sentiment that extended to the way I dressed. My wardrobe featured Billabong T-shirts, skinny jeans and bro-jackets.

Take us back to those awkward teenage years. Do you have any fashion regrets?

 

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I spent my first paycheck on H&M skinny jeans.

What are the most expensive and least expensive items in your wardrobe?

The most expensive would be my Burberry trench, although it’s proved to be so worth it. I’ve had so many very cool low-cost finds that I don’t think I know which was the least expensive. Maybe my brown Dickies? I picked them up in pristine quality for $5 at an op shop in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.

What is the most meaningful fashion piece you own?

 

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One of my dad’s shirts. It was a staple of his in the eighties, I believe. I borrowed it for a night out at uni, and I haven’t given it back yet.

What’s in your cart at the moment?

My cart has Asics x Kiko Kostadinov Gel Kirils, Gucci washed denim flares and a Candice For You hoodie.

What fashion piece are you saving for right now?

 

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Those Gucci flares! I wore a pair in a shoot for the Gucci x The North Face campaign and I haven’t been able to move on. It’s a parasocial, anxiously-attached relationship.

What are the wardrobe items you wear on repeat?

My leather jacket is a staple. It’s perfect – from the cut, feel and fit – and was a $30 op shop find. I’ve also got 2-3 sunglasses that I’ve got on rotation.

Who are your favourite local designers?

 

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A post shared by kavi ✧ (@klubkavi)


Dallas Hurts, Jules Bramley, Die Horny, Toilé Studios, Wackie Ju, Laura de Carteret and Garage Bands Jewellery.

See more of Kavi’s killer looks here.

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