Heritage, craftsmanship and more…
A heritage founded on craftsmanship and sustainability. A future focused on authenticity, design and innovation.
We’ve come a long way since 1983 – and while the styles may have changed, our ethos hasn’t. Helen Kaminski was founded on the principles of natural beauty, craftsmanship, distinctive style and individuality.
In 1983, brand founder Helen Marie Kaminski handcrafted a raffia hat to protect her children from the searing Australian sun. Soon, her distinctive design was being coveted by small country boutiques where it was exposed to the style set. Barely a year after creating her first hat by hand, an editor from Vogue featured the ‘Classic 5’, in an editorial spread. An influx of interest followed from retailers, consumers, stylists and celebrities.
“I left one of a few family hats at a shop in Manuka in Canberra. It sold before I got back to the farm in Gundaroo where we lived. The shop owner told me she could have sold five in an afternoon. And so it began. That year Judy Davis bought a few and Vogue used them in two or three pages.” Helen Marie Kaminski, Founding Designer
L-R: One of the original Classic 5 hats, Helen Kaminksi, founding designer, Classic 5's made from the finest Madagascan Raffia
Helen’s interest in working with the finest natural sustainably sourced materials led her to the natural home of raffia; Madagascar. Here, the finest raffia in the world grows. Helen fostered local relationships and in 1985 began collaborating with partners, establishing a dedicated handcraft workshop in Madagascar. In 1990, the collection grew to include the first Helen Kaminski raffia bag, the ‘Sac’, a design influenced by the traditional Papua New Guinea billum bag. A year later, Helen connected with John Roxburgh and Kimber Darling who were making hats in Picton, Australia and in 1993, Helen Kaminski Pty Ltd was formed with six managing partners.
With their combined energy, talent and enthusiasm the business was transformed into a year-round headwear brand, launching successfully into the USA in 1993, Japan in 1996 and Korea and Taiwan in 2001. In 2004, the company launched a year-round handbag collection, and in 2005 Kaminski XY, a headwear collection for men followed.
L-R: Raffia trees in Madagascar, the 'Sac' bag, Kaminski XY launches
In 2007, founding designer Helen Marie Kaminski took a step back from the business, and US based Bollman Hat Company acquired the brand. Kimber Darling stayed on as Managing Director guiding the business to further success from the brand headquarters in Sydney, Australia.
“In the thirty years of the Helen Kaminski design journey, we have gone from one style in one colour in one season in one country, to hundreds of styles across all seasons in many colours, distributed around the world.” Kimber Darling, Managing Director
The brand is featured in luxury department stores and boutiques in Australia, the United Kingdom, France, the USA, Japan and Korea including David Jones, Neiman Marcus, Harvey Nichols, Harrods, Le Bon Marche, Isetan, and Shinsegae. Helen Kaminski and Kaminski XY collections are also sold in Helen Kaminski brand stores in Sydney and Tokyo and in high end resorts globally.
Since the launch of the 'Classic 5', Helen Kaminski and Kaminski XY styles have been worn by celebrities world-wide. These include include Nicole Kidman, Jung-Woo, Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Ronan Keating, Amal Alamuddin, Steven Tyler and Hillary Clinton, to name just a few.
From humble beginnings, a simple handcrafted raffia hat in country Australia, Helen Kaminski has grown to be a leading international accessory brand recognised for authentic, stylish and innovative accessories.