Celebrating the Delights of Weirdness With Kiira Saari, Founder of ‘Guts Club’

Kiira Saari is the creator of Guts Club, the local brand that’s creating an anti-fashion flurry with its proud and colourful secondhand statement garments.

Who are you and what is your role at Guts Club? My name is Kiira and I’m the girl behind Guts Club. I am the curator, stylist, maker, photographer — basically I’m a one woman show!

Describe your personal style in ten words or less. A hurricane of lost garments, frantic feelings and always preowned.

What is your educational background? None. I barely finished high school. I was reckless teen with little to no interest in education. Being a hand-me-down child instilled a love of second-hand clothing and appreciation for vintage. I have spent my life working in various retail positions which has lead me to where I am now. My grandma, along with my mum, taught me about garment construction and how to sew from a young age. So I guess it’s a combination of learning from others and my own mistakes.

What do you do to pay the bills? I am lucky enough to be a picker for Mintage Vintage!

Tell me the story of Guts Club. What is the concept and what inspired it? Modern life has a way of making us question ourselves and compare ourselves to others – with social media usually being the catalyst. I was getting tired of feeling that way. Life is hard enough without having the feeling of being judged. Dressing outside the ‘norm’ is something I’ve embraced to make myself feel comfortable in my own skin. If you want to dress to express yourself you should be able to free of judgement! If you like it and it makes you feel good, then that’s all that matters! I wanted to create something that was inclusive of everyone.

What does having “guts” mean to you? It takes guts to be different. Being true to your real self, no matter what, takes real courage.

“If you want to look after the world we are living in you have to start with yourself. We pollute our minds and body as much as we do the environment.”

Who has been your biggest inspiration?A lot of people have made me who I am and I’m constantly learning from everyone. My grandma Flo was a huge inspiration to me growing up. She was tough as nails, could bake anything perfectly, and as a seamstress she was an absolute legend. She used to make me jeans and we’d sew on Levi’s tags because we couldn’t afford to buy the real deal. It was really rad.

What is your most admirable quality and what quality do you aspire to achieve and/or admire most in others? I guess I would say my work ethic? I hustle hard to make Guts Club a meaningful brand for everyone, because it’s very personal for me. The confidence of not caring what others think. I admire those who do their thing regardless of what people think.

How does the Guts Club brand break the mold? The beautiful thing about Guts Club is that there are no rules. We don’t adhere to any specific trends. We like to keep things fresh from a creative standpoint and experiment with all aspects of fashion.

What is your biggest weakness? Gluten! And also, myself. I am my own worst critic. I’m super tough on myself and always want things to be perfect. It’s both a blessing and a curse. And, as a result, I put a lot of effort into my work.

Who are the three “gutsiest” people you know? My mum takes all three spots on the list. She’s been through so much and still manages to inspire me and put a smile on my face through the hardest of times. Without her support, I wouldn’t be who I am today.

Who is your style icon? When I lived abroad in Brighton, I met a local icon who went by the name of Slow James. He is by far the coolest dude I’ve ever met. He wears crazy colourful suits, platforms, top hats and loads of jewelry. He used to visit me in this little shop I worked at and we’d chat about fashion. James never cared what anyone thought and that really inspired me to be more adventurous. I’m also really into Salvador Dali’s personal style. It was effortlessly eccentric but always classy.

Where do you source your materials for your original merchandise? The garms for our Guts Club originals are mostly second-hand finds along with some deadstock items. Everything is handpicked by myself.

Where do you find your vintage pieces? What do you look for in vintage? I dig for it! I’m fortunate enough to have access to some amazing places, which is all I can really say. I’ve also been collecting pieces for years so my stash is quite extensive. I will fully admit to being a hoarder of clothing. When sourcing pieces, I look for wild patterns, colours, unusual styles – basically the weirder the better. If its really beat up and falling apart I’m into it. I love a garment with a story.

What is the correlation between social/environmental sustainability and being body positive? If you want to look after the world we are living in you have to start with yourself. We pollute our minds and body as much as we do the environment. The one thing I love about vintage/reworked clothing is the fact new life is being breathed into something that would have otherwise ended in the dump. It’s my hope that I can use second hand clothing as a means to make people feel good about themselves.

Tell me about the “NO” t-shirt (pictured above). What are you protesting and why is clothing an effective medium for facilitating change? The “NO” tee can be interpreted in so many ways. To me it’s personal. I experienced some pretty awful interactions with an old employer. I was sexually harassed on more than one occasion and when I spoke up about it I was made to feel like this was ‘normal’ behaviour. I wasn’t the first to experience this and sadly, I probably wont be the last. That is why I made the “NO” tee. No one should ever have to be objectified and made to feel like its their fault. I want to create awareness and help others speak out against this.

What other conversations do you hope to spark with your statement clothing? Do you have a specific story about a conversation that’s been started by one of your Guts Club items that you can tell me? Please share! Really the biggest conversation I hope people have is one about themselves – what’s your story, your struggles, your insecurities and how can we turn that into your triumphs. I think the most conversations we’ve had around a garment is our Weirdo sweater. Lots of people connect with the word and have their own relationship with the term. Whether they embrace it ironically or otherwise – people like to fly a flag that speaks to their inner self.

What is your favourite expression? “Two tears in a bucket, f*ck it!”

What sort of impact do you hope to make with Guts Club? There’s so much pressure in the world for people to look a certain way, act a certain way and dress a certain way, especially when social media is involved. We celebrate you for being you. We are inclusive, no matter what your defining aspect may be. If there’s one thing I hope to achieve with this it is to empower people. I want Guts Club to be a catalyst for people feeling comfortable in their own skin. Love yourself and what you wear. I hope this movement can bring people together.

How is Guts Club making the world a better place? Promoting body positivity, one weird outfit at a time. We are giving new homes to old clothes and helping people feel good about themselves in the process.

“We are not just selling fashion, we are promoting positive living.”

How do you plan to expand Guts Club? Currently, social media is our best tool to reach people around the world. We are not just selling fashion, we are promoting positive living. Locally, we are moving into a studio space in Chinatown. This is going to give us a whole lot more room to create and collaborate with different artists. Exciting things to come! We are launching our Spring-Summer Collection in May!

Where would you like to see Guts Club ten years from now? I hope to grow into other sectors whilst keeping the ideology the same. Working alongside local charities, putting on events that support musicians and artists – embracing all creative minds! Nothing is off limits. I hope that Guts Club becomes an established brand that people feel good about wearing.

What three brands most intrigue or excite you currently? I’m currently in love with vintage workwear brands – my favourite being GWG which was a Canadian denim company. They made amazing jackets that are sturdy & fit like a dream. I also live in Big Mack Workwear. There’s just something about the simplicity and durability of their garments.
I do also enjoy a good bootleg. Especially of the Versace variety.

What do you hope to leave as your legacy? I just want to inspire people to love themselves for who they are and not let anyone take that from them.

Words of advice/wisdom to people looking to start up their own independent business? You gotta put yourself out there! If you love what you do then push yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. That has been a really hard thing for me, but it’s been so rewarding working with other people who share the same vision.

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