Kaelen On Her Inspiration And The Creative Process Behind Her Namesake Brand

Kaelen On Her Inspiration And The Creative Process Behind Her Namesake Brand

This New York-based designer is one to watch this season

This New York-based designer is one to watch this season

Text: John Brian Pierce

New York Fashion Week has officially arrived, and with it, a jam-packed roster of designers ready to showcase their take on Spring 2017. To help navigate the influx of emerging talent, V met up with Kaelen Haworth of her namesake label, KAELEN to talk about her latest collection and the new sources of inspiration behind it.

How did you begin conceptualizing your Spring 2017 collection?

Fabric is always the starting point for me. My shapes tend to be simple, architectural and structured, so fabric is really important. Things really start to evolve once we narrow our fabric selection. A lot of the material used in this collection was sourced from a mill we found in France. This season it’s nostalgic without feeling retro or vintage, which I love.

Tell us about the KAELEN customer?

I envision her through the way she buys things. I think about what she can add to an evolving collection, not what’s trendy this season, but something super special she is going to have an attachment to. It’s always been about emotional connection rather than finding a need to fill.

How does your approach change with every season?

I try to maintain balance by keeping to my signature silhouettes and what’s recognizable to my customer, while also bringing in new ideas and figuring out what’s fresh for me. That’s why fabrics are so important because they can completely transform a look and make it feel totally new. Fittings also play a very important role in evolving a collection; it can be an opportunity to experiment with different ideas.

Your new studio is amazing. Tell us about the neighborhood. How are you influenced by Chinatown and downtown New York?

Prior to the move I was in the CFDA incubator and based in Midtown. I think downtown is so interesting and so much more exciting. It’s a real everyday source of inspiration. It’s so vibrant, from the fruit stands to all the trinkets and small shops. The other day I found these amazing sandals. They literally have everything. I also am quite taken by all the colors. There’s so much to look at.

Where do you go for inspiration outside of fashion? Has Instagram ever been a visual source for you?

I find social media a little a disillusioning at times. It often has the opposite effect. If I see something cool, great! I’m more of a real time real person inspiration, which is why I find exploring my neighborhood and surrounding myself with people who have unique points of view so important to my creative process.

Tell us about your creative relationship with visual artist Ana Kras?

It was mutual. I liked what she was doing. She liked what I was doing. That’s why I love New York, there’s so many people doing interesting things and who want to share that and not be closed off. She does a little bit of everything. She’s got a great eye. Over the seasons I’ve really wanted to work with the talented women I’ve been meeting and I think are incredible. She’s absolutely one of them.

What about her inspires you as a designer?

She’s very confident in her own style. It’s about style not fashion. She’s creative, urban but not defined by it. She’s very global, a confident woman. She doesn’t need her clothing to speak for her but it contributes to an overall sense of who she is. That’s what I’m trying to do. I don’t want the clothes to be loud because the woman who wears it doesn’t need it. She needs something to support her own power. I think you have to design for the people your friends and the people you know.

Do you have a uniform? What will you be wearing this fall?

I’m always wearing a button down or some sort of shirting and jeans, or some pair of weird harem pants that I’ve had for years.

As far as your wardrobe goes, what do you invest in?

Glasses! I can’t see without them.

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