Kate Pinkstone of Shio Store, Berlin

Kate is the face behind Berlin based sustainable fashion brand & store Shio. We collaborated with Shio Store back in 2018 on the Shio x VT Linen Jumpsuit, which we re-launched this spring. We had a chat to Kate to find out more about her, how she became to be a Berlin designer and where she finds her inspiration.

Images by Ben Monks

Can you tell us who you are and what is Shio store?

My name is Kate Pinkstone. I grew up in Bowral NSW, Australia and have been living in Berlin since 2011. I am the founder of SHIO - a sustainable clothing label, store and studio located in Neukölln. In store you'll find my self-made collections made from eco linen and organic cotton as well asthe SHIO Upcycled line — a collection of one-off garments created from second-hand clothing or textiles. My studio is located directly behind the store as well as the studios of 4 other Berlin creatives - a jeweler, a leather bag maker, and 2 Photographers. SHIO store is a platform to showcase the honest, high quality, handmade goods we create on a daily basis. 

What took you over to Berlin?

It was 2011 and I had just finished my studies in fashion design in Sydney and was pursuing an internship. Unfortunately, internships, especially in fashion were poorly paid/unpaid and I didn’t really understand how I was going to pay rent in Sydney while doing so. We had friends living in Berlin and I had travelled there a bit and really liked the city. Berlin was never a “fashion” city like Paris or London, but I was never really into high fashion. I just wanted to make every day-wear and Berlin definitely had a street style edge. I also noticed that in Berlin the general public often discussed topics like sustainability, transparent supply chains and organic certifications. Be it in food or products, the conversations were happening. These sorts of topics were never really addressed/discussed during my time interning at some larger fashion labels in Sydney and it didn’t really sit well with me. In 2011 it was very affordable to live in Berlin, rent and cost of living was relatively cheap. So, I worked 2 jobs in hospitality for 6 months in Adelaide and saved up enough for what I estimated would last me a year's rent in Berlin. I moved over on a 1 year working/holiday visa and started interning at a small sustainable fashion label where I learnt a lot about slow fashion and organic fabrics. During this year I also worked in a vintage store, studied German, and participated in markets on the weekend selling upcycled pieces I made from second-hand clothing and Vintage pieces that I altered. After one year in Berlin, I really wanted to stay permanently. So, I pursued a self-employment visa and found a space to open a store and studio selling my upcycled pieces and later on my self-made collections focused on slow, sustainable design. Now I’m coming close to the end of my 12th year running the store and studio space which I now share with 4 other Berlin creatives. 

What is one of your essential daily rituals?

Having a coffee and peaceful moment to myself in the morning before starting the work day. In the Summer we live outside the city in a little wooden bungalow house with a garden and in Winter in our flat in the city. If we are at the garden I usually walk around while drinking my coffee and either do a bit of weeding or simply look to see what needs tending to on the weekend. If we’re in the city I walk around our plant-filled apartment and fuss around removing old leaves or repotting plants that have outgrown their current pot. Any kind of gardening really helps me think about something other than work and brings a lot of joy and relaxation. Especially as I’m someone who can't seem to sit still. 

"I am fascinated by nature and the colours that compose different landscapes and seasons. I find the mathematical elements in nature, as well as its organic shapes and forms, intriguing and so beautiful."

How did you get into clothing & manufacturing?

I started playing around with my mum's sewing machine when I was about 12, making really basic things like pillows that I’d give to my friends. I’d also alter my clothes to have them fit the way I liked. I was a pretty average student in high school. My grades were ok but didn’t really excel in anything academically. I really enjoyed more creative subjects like textiles, art and drama. For my High School Certificate (years 11 + 12) I pretty much abandoned all my other subjects to focus on my major work for Design and Technology. I made a crazy dress, hat, shoes and bag made completely from second hand materials. My hard work paid off and it became part of the young creator's exhibition at the Powerhouse museum. From then on, I knew it was the only thing I really wanted to do. I had researched the best fashion design course in Australia which was at Ultimo Tafe in Sydney. I really loved the practical side of fashion design and this course seemed the most intense and really prepared you for the industry. They thoroughly covered every step of the design and manufacturing process from design brief to realisation, production drawing, patternmaking, cutting, and sewing. On top there were subjects like colour theory, fashion business, history of textiles, CAD and screen printing. I learned so much in those few years. The final stage of the course was to make a collection and compete to be one of 4 collections that would be shown at fashion week. I decided to opt out at this stage as there was a huge push to be as innovative and Avant Garde as possible. I was really into simple, clean and basic design, which was not going to get me noticed. Every day, comfortable apparel was more my style. When I moved to Berlin everyone was really into Vintage clothing and there was so much cool stuff to be found at flea markets and kilo clothing stores. It was all really cheap and I tried on this style for a bit (even cut my fringe lol) but I always found the design of the clothes too complicated and was constantly cutting them up, removing shoulder pads and altering them to a much more basic shape while letting the vintage print, fabric texture or colour be the focus. Through this I realised what kind of basic shapes I liked to wear the most, that also suited multiple body types. From these shapes the SHIO label was born. Using natural fibres like linen and organic cotton I started producing everyday wear from what I consider to be timeless silhouettes. 

Where do you look for inspiration?

Definitely travelling and nature. When visiting cities, I love sitting at cafes or bars and people watching. Seeing who looks nice and how they dress. I like to ditch my travel bags asap and try to blend in and imagine what it would feel like to live in this city. As I get older though my favourite holidays are somewhere by the beach and/or in nature. Somewhere with good hiking options is ideal. Some stand out trips have been to Morrocco, Tenerife and Italy. I’m constantly inspired by the colours in nature and I use them a lot in my collections (much like Vege threads!). Strong sky or ocean blues, darker greens from the forest or succulent plants growing from deep reddy-brown dry earth, or yellowy-brown and cream clay housing along roads in the desert. These earthy colourways were also very big in the 70’s, which is another big source of inspiration. Darks Browns, bright orangey-reds, and mustard/ochre tones are some of the first you think of in 70’s print design. As well as dark greens and blues in 70’s interiors. I’ve always loved 70’s fitted t-shirts and turtlenecks made from Ribbing, often striped in monochromatic tones. Ribbing is one of my favourite textiles to work with. These days most people only use it for cuffs and necklines but I love using it for entire pieces. It’s so stretchy, thick and comfy. 

When do you feel the most at ease?

When I’m in my routine and feeling balanced and on top of things. I’m a creature of habit and thrive on a routine. I eat the same muesli for breakfast everyday which has all the things I need in it - nuts, seeds, berries, yoghurt, banana, apple, oats and I also drink a litre (if not more) of chamomile tea everyday while I'm working. On a work day I try to get all my (boring) computer tasks out of the way first so I can focus the afternoon on clothing production, while serving customers in the store in between. I’m usually the most productive between 13:00 and 18:00. If I get to do all these things and also manage to squeeze in some exercise like yoga or cycling, I’m usually feeling at ease and good about the day.

Current favourite label / maker?

It’s pure joy to follow ‘Studio Beurre’ on Instagram. It’s the account of my friend and customer Leah who is a chef and has recently gotten into ceramic making. Not only are her vases and candle holders super cute but she also shares pictures of beautiful cakes, pastries and food she’s made and shares scenes from gorgeous locations in Italy, France and Spain. It’s all my favourite things to look at : ceramics, food and Southern Europe in the Summer.

Where is a place you would love to return to?

Pretty much anywhere in Italy. Italy always delivers. I love the food, the climate, the beaches, the hikes, the cities and the lifestyle. I’d love to travel from the top to the bottom and all over the islands. I haven’t even scraped the surface yet, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed everywhere I’ve been so far.

What is your favourite item of VT clothing to wear & why?

Definitely the Linen Jumpsuit that Amy and I collaborated on and designed together. It’s always been a favourite and I’ve always had at least one on the go in various colours over the years. It’s great for travelling and so versatile and comfy. I wear it all seasons with a longsleeve turtleneck underneath in Winter and in Summer with a T-shirt or simply by itself. It can look quite dressed up with some heeled slides or super casual with Birkenstocks. I love wearing Linen. It’s breathable, softens over time and it’s great for the environment too! The flax plant from which the fibres come from is super resilient and grows in poor soil, meaning it doesn't need anywhere near as much water and fertiliser as cotton crops. 

Some VT honourable mentions are also Sun Socks, the Organic Singlet and Gaucho Pants. They’re all in my wardrobe and have stood the test of time. I’m a huge fan of Vege Threads and Amy’s work. It’s always inspired me. Sharing struggles, ideas and frustrations with the industry we are both in has always been incredibly valuable. 

Discover about of Kate & Shio Store here.

Worn by Kate