Fashion, Opinion

The KarJen Fashion Empire

I hate to admit it but I’ve fallen into the Kardashian’s trap. It started off innocently, watching their show whilst eating breakfast in the morning if I had nowhere to rush off to and now I’ve found myself invested in their external businesses, purely because of what I’ve seen on the show.

I’ve been vocal in the past about my distaste for the Kardashian/Jenners in the fashion industry and I still stand by that partially. I don’t think Kendall should be booking all of the modelling jobs she is but you also can’t knock her for getting a paycheck and taking advantage of the awesome opportunities that come her way. You can’t knock Kim for sitting front row at fashion shows or wearing vintage Galliano or Vivienne Westwood (as she has been favoring recently). If she gets invited to the shows and has the resources to wear these clothes, of course she would. And finally, I can’t knock Kanye for his Adidas line because that truly is his passion and you can see that clearly.

The things that I refused to give the Kardashians a pass for in the past were their clothing lines. I’m not a huge fan of the celebrity designer trend and the fact that just because they have a well known name they can easily find financial backers and launch a line like its nothing. However, since watching the show and learning a little bit more about the brands coming out of the KarJen klan currently, I’ve become slightly more intrigued.

First off, there is Kendall + Kylie, a contemporary line sold in stores like Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor and Nordstrom. They sell clothing, shoes, and accessories. It was a full-on brand from its very first season. On an episode that I just watched (a late repeat), Kendall and Kylie are at their showroom in New York with Nicole Phelps from Vogue Runway. Phelps is there to review the collection. When the pair are taking her around the showroom, they pick up some of their favorite pieces and describe them as cool and simple and can’t say much more than that. They can’t describe their customer besides the fact that she used to be a California girl but is now more than that. Phelps doesn’t seem too impressed. I know that the show is scripted to some extent but I do feel like Kendall and Kylie’s lack of descriptive adjectives to really explain to Phelps what their collection meant and stood for was genuine. They aren’t really involved in the creation of the line besides giving final approval and being the face of the brand and that is evident. Their role aside, the merchandise is actually cute and if you were to see it on the floor in a Nordstrom store you would probably buy it. The only downside to the brand is the price-point. They wanted to differentiate the line from others they have done in the past, like the PacSun collection or the Topshop collaboration. This was meant to be more high-end and the prices reflect that, although I don’t think there is that much of an evolution in the styles shown. In the end, Nicole Phelps wrote a very fair review for Vogue. 

Screenshot of the Kendall + Kylie Instagram account which boasts 4.4m followers

The next KarJen brand that I was interested in is the Kids Supply, Kim and Kanye’s childrenswear capsule collection. Because of the size, I instantly find childrenswear adorable. It helps that North West is the best dressed child in the world (besides the extremely age-inappropriate lace and mesh shirts that they used to dress her in) so I feel like the couple know how to dress kids. The collection featured an embroidered bomber with “Calabasas” motifs (which was reversible too), mini slip dresses, caps with “kids” embroidered across the front, and t-shirts. There was a small product selection but it sold out within the weekend. Some items are on pre-order. I liked this line and I’m honestly not mad at the couple for trying to enter the childrenswear market. The pricing was high but you also cannot criticize someone for that. It’s like when people laugh at Gwyneth Paltrow and her exorbitantly priced gift guides on Goop. It’s not for everybody and that’s ok. It doesn’t mean that it is an invalid market to target just because you don’t fit into their income demographic.

Screenshot of the Kids Supply e-store

Finally, the brand which I was actually the most impressed with and would love to see in person is Khloe’s denim line. Launched in October last year and entitled Good American, the line features jeans, skirts, and jackets in sizes 00 – 24. It is meant to cater to every body shape and fit and flatter all. I think that’s a bold statement to make yet everybody who I’ve seen wearing the jeans looks amazing. Khloe and her partner have done a good job on the fits, with the Good Cuts with the released hem being my personal favorite style. The premium denim market is pretty full, with brands like Paige, Frame, and J Brand being longstanding stars. However, Khloe’s line managed to disrupt the norm and proved to be Nordstrom’s second biggest launch ever. The line itself was the biggest denim launch of all time. It made $1 million on its first day. Pretty impressive for a reality tv star, huh. I think that figure alone just shows the bankability of the KarJen family. It makes sense that they want to capitalize on the fashion industry while they can. Their looks are some of the most influential.

Kylie in Good American

I have softened on the KarJen family. I used to think of them as representing the decline in culture (and I guess that argument still could be made) and everything that was wrong with modern society, but now I can appreciate their hustle. This family is damn good at business and knows how to build brands. It will be interesting to see how long each of their brands continue for. In the past, there has been Kardashian Kollection (a collaboration between Kourtney, Kim and Khloe) which was sold at Sears. This line was unsuccessful. They have the DASH boutiques which are more of a tourist destination than a fashion spot. Then Kendall and Kylie have their previous collections and brands. As with everything, the brands will live as long as they continue to be popular. Judging by social media and sales figures, they’ll be here to stay for a while.

Fashion, Weekly Words

Weekly Words: July 15th 2017

“Does the fashion industry still need Vogue in the age of social media?” – The Guardian

Following Lucinda Chambers’ interview last week which shook the fashion industry to the core, The Guardian have explored some of the issues that were brought up further, namely Vogue’s influence in the fashion industry in the age of social media. Since fashion shows are live-streamed and anyone can share their opinion online, traditional magazines like Vogue no longer dictate styles and trends in the way they used to. In fact, they are now influenced by social media whether that be by the pieces they feature in their editorials (often the buzziest looks from shows) or the models they cast. The magazines that are faring well in the industry are the publications who embrace the rise of social media by featuring influencers on their covers or in their pages. The Guardians’s article, penned by Karen Kay, details this all further.

Vogue Italia July 2017 Covers

Vogue Italia has undergone a rebrand since the new editor in chief took the helm. That includes retro styling and a different typeface on the covers. I personally love the new look. This magazine cover is funny to me because I didn’t even realize that the male model was nude until adding this image to my post. I have seen it so many times and failed to catch that detail as Grace Elizabeth is truly the focus of the shot. The images are shot by Steven Meisel and styled by Benjamin Bruno.

“The End of an Era: Colette to Close Its Doors” – BoF

On its 20 year anniversary, Colette, the famed Parisian multi-brand boutique has decided to shut down. The news came as a surprise given that the store is doing well and having various celebrations for their anniversary. For example, for every month this year they are giving an entire floor of the store to a designer. So far they have already hosted Balenciaga, and in the future will be hosting the likes of Sacai and Thom Browne. They are in talks with Saint Laurent, a brand that they formerly had issues with when Hedi Slimane originally took over the creative direction, to take over the store space. It will be sad to see Colette go as they were famed for their selections and for being one of the best multi-brand stores in the entire world.


1950s Inspiration Clips

Here is my latest video in the compilation series that I have been posting on YouTube. This time it focuses on the 1950s, using vintage photographs and clips from old movies and events. I have also included a lot of “inspired” clips in there too, like Vogue Italia photoshoots and Dsquared runway shows. Let me know if you have any questions!

Fashion, Weekly Words

Weekly Words: July 8th 2017

“Will I Get a Ticket?” – Vestoj

In an explosive, first-person report, Lucinda Chambers, former (25 year) fashion director of British Vogue, reveals some hard truths about the fashion industry. The most important thing that she revealed was that she was fired by Edward Enninful almost instantly (in three minutes) and that nobody around her, not even the publisher or current EIC, knew that it was going to happen. I don’t think anybody was surprised when she stepped down from her role. After all, when a new EIC comes in it is not uncommon for the team to change entirely. However, it was the fact that she was fired then replaced fairly quickly by Venetia Scott that was surprising. Other things that she reveals in the account are that she hasn’t read Vogue for years nor lives a Vogue-like lifestyle, that she thinks the fashion system is unsympathetic and does not give people a chance, and that Vetements was a welcome addition to the fashion calendar. I encourage you to read this piece while you still can. It was published then unpublished in a day due to the reaction it got in the fashion community (it was published during Couture Week, when everybody is together again), and then republished again the following day.

“How to Sell a Billion-Dollar Myth Like a French Girl” – Racked

Bardot in stripes

The concept of living like a French girl, from eating a croissant in the morning after rolling out of bed with your hair in that perfectly undone up-do to dressing in Breton stripes and cropped pants, riding a bicycle along the Seine, is a long-standing stereotype of sophistication. French girls have that je ne sais quoi and the media and various companies have capitalized off this. They are foreign enough to Americans and Brits that we want to emulate their lifestyles but not so different that it seems completely unachievable. That’s why countless books, magazine articles, and online posts have been penned on how to be French if you aren’t even from there. It’s almost an in-joke now. This particular article from Racked focuses on how companies have managed to profit from the stereotype, from beauty brands like Glossier and French Girl Organics to clothing brands like The Kooples. It is a fun read that helps you see things for how they really are.

“Why You Should Never Name a Company After Yourself” – Quartz

Clare Vivier of Clare V.

This article was apt as a follow-up to the one I posted last week about Thaddeus O’Neil and his battle with surf brand O’Neill (different spellings, different target markets). It details the various reasons why designers shouldn’t use their own name as a brand and gives examples of many designers who have now lost the rights to use their own names for their own products – Donna Karan and Kate Spade are two major names. It seems crazy that you lose the legal grounds to your own name but once you build it up as a brand and sell it to external investors, you give it up. Smaller brands can be devastated by the legal fees that come with litigation (like the situation that Thaddeus O’Neil is in right now) and often have to give up to the corporate giants who sue them. Los Angeles-based handbag designer Clare V is an example of this, with the brand formerly being known as Clare Vivier before being sued by Roger Vivier. She chose to change her brand’s name because they could not afford to waste money fighting the case. This likely happens for many brands and according to the article the easiest way to protect yourself in this situation is to choose a unique, different name to begin with.

Fashion, Fashion News

How do you control the use of your image?

Following Kendall & Kylie Jenner’s latest controversial misstep – screen printing their faces on “vintage” t-shirts from bands and rappers then selling them for $125 – I spent some time thinking about how artists can protect their legacy once they are gone, or even when they are still here.

The Jenner sisters’ collection of t-shirts featured artists like Tupac Shakur & Biggie Smalls, both deceased, and bands like Pink Floyd. Biggie Smalls’ mother, Voletta Wallace spoke out against the t-shirt in an Instagram post, calling it “exploitation” and “disrespectful”, and mentioned the key point that the sisters nor their teams reached out to her or anybody connected to Biggie’s estate to check if it was actually ok for them to use his image. Sharon Osbourne, wife of Ozzy (who was featured on one of the t-shirts), said that the girls hadn’t “earned the right” to put their faces with icons. The t-shirts were pulled from their website the day of the launch and Kendall & Kylie both issued an apology online.

I think it was pretty clear for everyone to see that the Jenners were in the wrong in this situation. It was a blatant money-making scheme which they hadn’t any business being involved in. However, someone approved it and for some reason it was released to the public. I think after receiving such harsh criticism from so many prominent figures will resonate with them. However, they are not the only people to ever use someone’s image without their permission. In fact, tour merchandise especially is often replicated.

Forever 21 and Kanye West had issues in 2016 when they copied the Pablo merch almost exactly. Justin Bieber teamed up with H&M to make a capsule collection of “Purpose” merch. It was a strange but apt collaboration given that H&M continually sell unofficial band merchandise, from Guns N’ Roses and Metallica. Then I also wonder how Metallica felt when Kanye West reused their famous logo and changed it into the Yeezus logo, splattering it on t-shirts, hats, and hoodies and selling it in droves. Yeezus merch was some of the most popular merch that I can remember in recent history so I can only assume that the profits were crazy high. Did Metallica get a cut?

Voletta Wallace made the point that nobody connected to the estate, meaning the estate of her deceased son Christopher Wallace, were contacted before Kendall & Kylie’s t-shirts were made and I then thought about how many t-shirts and memorabilia type items are made with people like Marilyn Monroe & Audrey Hepburn’s faces on it. Does their estate get a cut of all of these product’s profits? Or is it a lost cause?

The Rubens styles from the LV x Jeff Koons collaboration

Finally, I was reminded of the Louis Vuitton x Jeff Koons collaboration. Koons used famous masterpieces like the Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and printed them on bags. Louis Vuitton are now selling the capsule collection. A bag from there will set you back $3200 for a Neverfull tote. How does that situation work out? If they are profiting from the work from a long deceased artist, in this case literally hundreds of years deceased, how does it work out in terms of copyright/ownership? I would be curious to find out more. Off-White also makes Caravaggio printed t-shirts for $293.

I guess my main question that I am posing with this post is how do people ensure that the profits from products are going to the right people? If someone’s likeness is used without their knowledge/consent, what is their legal rights/claims on the product’s profits? This is a subject that I’m going to explore in more depth personally over the next few weeks, doing some research. If I find out anything exciting, I will add it to this post as an update!

Fashion, Shows

Fashion Flashback: Yeezy Season 1 / FW15

I have a post coming up about the various fashion businesses of the Kardashian-Jenner klan. This post would be incomplete without a mention of Kanye West. In that spirit, I thought I would throw it back to his first Adidas Originals collection, back in February 2015 for Yeezy Season 1. It’s hard to believe that this was only two and a half years ago, given that it seems like the Yeezy hype has been going on forever. With social media and so much happening every week, it’s easy to think that things were years ago when really they were recently. That’s what has happened with this collection in my mind.

I remember the outrage when this collection was shown. Nobody could believe that Kanye West dared to call this fashion. They couldn’t fathom the fact that he had disrupted the New York Fashion Week schedule. They didn’t understand the format of his show, like a performance art piece instead of a runway. And most importantly, they couldn’t believe that the pieces he put out were to be considered clothes. The full body stockings, for example, were particularly controversial. I’ve taken to interpret the bodystockings as creating a blank canvas with whatever piece worn on top of it to be the one highlighted. Take the green crop top worn by Amina Blue as an example. That is what we are meant to focus on, with the rest of her body being deemed invisible.

The Yeezy line has evolved ever so subtly. It is becoming more and more organized each season. I think Kanye’s vision is becoming clearer. Some things in the collections are overpriced, ridiculous, and laughable whereas other items are genuinely nice, wearable, and fair. I like the outerwear mainly. I hate the shoes. The Fall 2017 presentation was the best yet, with the best format also. I’m interested to see what direction Kanye takes things in for the Spring 2018 season. What can he do next?


Weekly Words: July 1st 2017

Wow. We are in July already. This year is going so fast. I already graduated with my Associate’s. A whole month of summer has gone by. Wow. Anyway, onto the news from this week…

“Dov Charney’s American Dream” – Retail Dive

I like Dov Charney. I know that can be a slightly controversial opinion to hold due to the sexual harassment allegations that were launched against him a couple of years ago (which he has fervently denied) but I do genuinely think he is a good guy. He pays his workers well. He fights for immigration rights. He wants to give people a good life and wants to make good quality products in the process of it. This article, a long-form essay really, goes into depth about the rise and fall of American Apparel, and Charney’s rise from the ashes of his fallen company. He is coming back now with a new brand called Los Angeles Apparel – basically American Apparel 2.0. I’m curious as to how the new brand is going to turn out. Will it be as successful as American Apparel was at its peak? Will he manage to sell $1 billion dollars worth of merchandise again?

“Nike’s Kyrie 3 is Dropping in “Triple Black” with a Marble Twist” – High Snobiety

Whilst I wouldn’t describe myself as a sneakerhead, I’ve really gotten into sneakers recently. I don’t own too many pairs but I love looking at them and there are quite a few pairs on my wishlist. I find myself browsing in Kith regularly now and looking at Flight Club online. Emily Oberg is a good person to look at on Instagram for some inspiration in female streetwear. She has a good balance of cool, masculine pieces and pretty silky slip dresses and heels. The particular shoe mentioned in the article is the latest installment of Kyrie Irving’s Kyrie 3 style. I love the all-black and the marble detail which gives it a luxe twist. They don’t actually go on sale until August 5th so there is a while yet until you’ll see these on the streets. If there isn’t too much of a demand for these I might get a pair myself. Honestly, I kind of want a custom pair.

“American Designer Thaddeus O’Neil Is Locked in a Nasty Legal Battle With a Surf Brand Over His Name” – Fashionista

This story is pretty crazy. CFDA Fashion Fund finalist and current Fashion Incubator member Thaddeus O’Neil has been served a lawsuit by the surf brand O’Neill. In the lawsuit, they say he needs to stop using his surname (O’Neil versus their O’Neill) and change his logo. Despite the fact that they sell at different price points, to different customer bases, with different products entirely, the brand still says there could be confusion. It’s just sad because the logos and names are different yet if O’Neill wins the case Thaddeus O’Neil, a young designer who is just establishing his brand, would have to change the name and logo, essentially undoing the years of work that he has put in. It would also mean that any of his current merchandise which is in production and due to be shipped to retailers would be void, meaning financial loss for the designer who is already spending time and money on legal matters. It’s just sad that such a well-established brand would come after a small designer over something so miniscule. I hope that Thaddeus O’Neil wins.


Serena Williams for Vanity Fair

This cover is so beautiful. Pregnancy is one of the most incredible and scary things a human can go through and Serena Williams knows that. The global tennis star is six months pregnant and looks stunning in the Annie Leibovitz shoot. I’m excited for my issue to come in the mail because I know that this is one that I will be keeping for a long time.

Fashion, Weekly Words

Weekly Words: 24th June 2017

Daya by Zendaya Collection

Whilst flicking through a magazine earlier this week, I read an interview with Zendaya Coleman, teen-starlet turned fashion designer. In the interview, she mentioned her collection. Naturally, I had to take a look. I went on the website and seen a few pieces that I thought were cute. Of course, it is nothing entirely new (nothing is anymore) but I liked some things nonetheless. I decided to order a velvet blazer that was on sale for $29.99. I placed my order on Monday evening and by Wednesday afternoon I had it in my apartment – super quick delivery. I was amazed to see that the blazer was actually really high quality. The buttons are heavy and feel more like metal than plastic, the fabric is closer to velvet than velour (what you normally get with “velvet” pieces), and the cut is near perfect. Overall I’m really pleased with my purchase & I think I’ll buy more things in the future. I encourage everyone to check the line out!

Two Separate Designers Claim Gucci Stole Their Logos for Its Cruise 2018 Collection – Fashionista

Gucci’s recent collection has been plagued with controversy. First there was the whole Dapper Dan debacle, in which the brand did admit that they had taken inspiration from the Harlem-based designer, and now there are two new artists claiming that Gucci has copied them, and honestly it is clear to see. The first case was from a New Zealand artist who had designed a snake logo for his t-shirt line. All Gucci did in this case was mirror flip the logo and change the text. The second case was from an Australian graphic designer who designed a tiger logo for a tattoo shop (which he owns the rights for). Gucci copied the logo and placement but changed the animal from a tiger to a lion. I think it is very shady that so many elements in this collection have been copied from other artists, all while Alessandro Michele gets the credit and Gucci gets the profits, because we all know that the t-shirts & totes will retail for hundreds of dollars when they cost less than $50 to print…