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Katie Rose Champlin

Katie is a fashion and textile designer and weaver. She has been with RWS since June 2021.

Hula hooping and circus arts lead her here. There are different trends in the music festival community and she fell in love with Hula hooping, a community faction of many music festivals, after she started going with her family when she was sixteen. She later started performing with her hoop and fire dancing and made her own costumes. She was a participant of Circus Maine (permanently closed now) where she trained every day for a few months to enrich her routine. “There’s this one festival called ‘Electric Daisy Carnival’ (EDC) and it’s the largest music festival in the world and they have really wild character entertainers. I always wanted to do that.” That was her goal performance, but when people started to notice her handmade costumes they suggested she pursue it so Katie applied to be a wardrobe assistant for the carnival. She got the job and ended up traveling with and dressing the entertainers. This sealed the deal for Katie. She had made a connection to potentially make costumes for EDC, so she went to MECA to learn how to do it better. Now that she has earned her degree she’s working to blend it all together.

She loves to travel and when she’s away from home Katie brings her camera to take macro photographs of city structures, tiles, and infrastructure. The details in these images easily transfer to print on fabric and she always imagines them as a garment. While she was in Hong Kong, she noticed interesting details in the sidewalks, stairs to the trains, and grates; she blended these pictures and made a fashion illustration out of it. Sometimes she uses collage to mock up her fashion designs.

A lot of her work is experimental. She’s been working with repurposing fabrics from past projects and has created a flower motif out of buttons on canvas inspired by a dream. Katie is a vivid dreamer and this exploration is an extension of her thesis project that pulled inspiration from what she calls that “magical, ethereal feeling” of dreams. Her favorite tool is a pair of scissors she has tied at the end of a necklace made of shiny silver ribbon. “I’ve had two separate role models teach me to wear the scissors around my neck because I’m always going to need them. It’s been true. I wear them like a necklace.” She does more technical work as well like screen printing on merchandise for her family’s dispensaries that opened in the Mid-Coast region over the past two years.

As a recent graduate, Katie’s feeling a little lost, “I don’t know where I’m at right now.” She’s at a point where she’s not making anything garment-related but it’s always on her mind. This is a rite of passage for many, and she’s grateful to have her own space and time for herself. Her studio is a safe space--like an oasis, an escape, a break from everything--where she has the freedom to be herself. She feels like she’s found her voice and now she’s searching for its ultimate expression.

Katie recently released a collection with the trendy and ultimate ‘fast fashion’ online retailer, SHEIN. She was invited as a part of a program where they reached out to new designers and was in company with about 100 others in pursuit of their first collection produced by someone else. Through the experience she has learned how a fast fashion company does production. “It was a one-time thing, small batch, but they had the models, they handled everything aside from me making the sketches and the tech files and approving the sampling process so that I could link my collection.” See the collection at SHEIN X Twist and Jam.

Contact Katie via her website.

*Pictures above credited to SHEIN and The Portland Press Herald and Getty Images.


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