Meet the Maker – Rattamatatt

Kathryn Shaw of Rattamatatt

Kathryn Shaw of local label Rattamatatt has been slowly developing timeless garments, building her business from a side project to a full time job. A refreshing story for many creatives who are working out how to make passion a career. Katheryn is a delight to work with, she has great knowledge and experience in the fashion industry and embraces the local supply chain of designers and printers.

Kathryn is challenging the standard of collection development by offering made to order garments with customer requirements carefully considered. Rattamatatt is championing the process of ethical, sustainable and moral fashion, thinking about how we want to be treated as customers and how we want to dress for many years to come. All prints and styling is carefully considered.

Kathryn working in her studio wearing her own dress design
Image by Yuki Design Co
Image by Yuki Design Co
Print design in collaboration with Brook Gossen
Image by Yuki Design Co
Pictured is Nicole from Fat Mango creative who in collaboration with Kathryn and Brook bought the Rainbow Picnic collection to life

Tell us about your journey to running your own label Rattamatatt

I’ve always been interested in fashion from a young age. I remember telling my Nana that I wanted a particular green taffeta dress for my year 6 farewell. Watching her make the pattern on newspaper and create this amazing dress that fitted me perfectly and was exactly what I wanted was definitely a pivotal step in my journey. I studied fashion after school and worked for 13 years in the Industry getting to experience the whole process from beginning design to end delivery to customer. I was lucky enough to work both in a local manufacturer with in-house machinists and cutters and local printed and also offshore and travelled overseas many times a year to work closely with factories in several countries. All these contacts and experiences gave me such insight and knowledge and having that rapport with all aspects from printers, embroiderers and makers is vital. I started Rattamatatt as a side gig- A chance for me to design and create whatever I wanted. Once a year I would have a cocktail night for friends to come and purchase dresses. After I took my first maternity leave from where I was working at the time, I knew I wanted a change of pace for my little family, so we moved down the coast and we created a balance of family life with me creating for Rattamatatt whenever I wanted. I’ve been lucky to have slowly built it up to now a full time job that my kids are both at school. I’m absolutely love what I do and am so thankful for the path that’s lead me to where I am.

How did you come up with the name Rattamatatt for your business

Actually, it came very easily from a conversation probably 15 years ago when I wanted a business name that would let me be flexible with what I created and where it led. There is an old nursey rhyme Miss Polly had a dolly and the doctor knocks on the door with a ‘rat-a-tat-tat’ and very quickly, that lead to Rattamatatt. It’s probably not the easiest business name to spell but I liked the quirky ambiguity of it.

Print Design by Natalie Perkins

Much of the garment production you do is made to order. We are seeing a rise in the craft of made to order and tailoring in the design community, why do you think that is?

There could be many reasons but maybe people are realising that fast fashion doesn’t actually last a long time. Or perhaps they’re seeing the environmental repercussions of the techniques and processes in creating such designs. I believe that my customers are like me and appreciate that I print many of my fabrics to order through Next State. It avoids wastage, it’s printed in Australia and the quality is excellent. I think the last year has also helped people to actually want to know where their food comes from and where their goods are made. Rattamatatt is all cut and made at my home on the South Coast of NSW. I enjoy making to order. My connection with customers is so important and I’m always open to chatting details and providing further information before purchasing. My customers understand that we are all different shapes and do not always fit into my size chart. They know they can message me and say they’re in between sizes but they still want the overall look and could I modify where possible. I want all my customers to be happy with their purchases and know when they wear a Rattamatatt piece that they feel their very best self and exude confidence!

You collaborate with talented textile designers, how do you go about selecting a print and working on a collaboration

Sometimes I work by seeing a finished print and knowing exactly the sort of outfit I want to create in that particular design. I might see an artist’s work in progress in an Instagram story and I just know it’s going to be perfect for what I’m after and jump on it before someone else does! Other times I’ve contacted a designer and given some ideas but ultimately, I want them to put their unique spin on my ramblings. I’m no textile designer, and don’t have those skills but I love being able to work with amazing artists so beginnings of ideas can come to life.

What impact do you think colour has on the clothing we wear?

I feel that colour has the ability to put us in a good mood, give us confidence and feel empowered. Colour can also bring so much emotion to what you’re wearing. Perhaps a retro-coloured print will bring a nostalgic childhood memory, or a particular colour represents the name of a love one. I also love that colour can mean something different for each of us. We all have our personal style and that’s what I love about fashion. The same dress can be worn so many different ways by mixing it up with what the individual sees as perfect for them. Colour and fashion about finding your own happy place!

What are your wardrobe staples you can’t live without?  

Clogs, dresses with pockets, classic shapes that I’ll have in wardrobe until I wear them out and lots of fun earrings and accessories to go with all those dresses.

What are you looking forward to in 2021?

Markets being back on! I miss shopping with small businesses in person and meeting the makers behind their work. I’ll be at Sydney Finders Keepers in May this year with Rattamatatt and I’m really excited about that opportunity. I’ve also got some great collaborations with artists that I can’t wait to bring to life during the course of the year.

Print design by Sheree of Whimsy Kaleidoscope
Image by Yuki Design Co
Image by Yuki Design Co
Dress featuring print by Marni Stuart
Print design by Marni Stuart