Karen Kane has been close to my heart since Greg and I visited the factory and headquarters in Los Angeles, California ten years ago. I wrote about the design room, the sample room, the factory floor, the trim and dispatch departments, and shared their thoughts on being a close-knit family business. Spending time at Karen Kane, interviewing the extremely talented Karen herself, getting to know the family and hearing how they run their business was a wonderful experience.
Karen and her husband Lonnie started their business in their home garage 40 years ago. Their stated mission: “We believe women should feel beautiful and comfortable, always. We create products with passion and integrity, guided by respect for our people and planet.“
Their business grew and before long they had retail orders, premises, employees, and bestsellers. Their sons Michael and Robert grew up in the family business, which is still privately owned. Michael became the Director of Marketing in 2011 and Robert joined as a designer in 2018.
Karen Kane’s “Made in America” brand was operating ethically and sustainably long before it was on the forefront of our planet-saving minds. Their sons have taken it further. With the ethical sourcing of fabrics and trims, manufacturing in Los Angeles, a commitment to being extremely transparent about their business practices, using recycled textiles, minimizing waste, and reducing their carbon footprint, Karen Kane has adapted very naturally to the new era of fashion production. You can read about their sustainable and ethical business practices.
The Karen Kane brand offers relaxed, trendy classic ladieswear with a strong California vibe. A little beachy, a little boho, natural, casually glam, and elegant in an understated way. Ladies clothing is the brand’s strength and bread and butter, but there are accessories, kids wear, and home accessories too. Clothing is generally neutral, knit or woven, fluid in fit, high quality, and very comfortable. Karen likes to wear black, grey and animal print, so you’ll see a lot of that in the assortments.
Karen Kane was an impressive early adopter of size diversity, which is another reason the brand is close to my heart. It was producing sizes XS to 3XL, and petites, long before other brands were offering extended sizes. There is room to further extend size curves in both directions, and I hope to see that soon.
I’ve been shopping the Karen Kane brand since I came to the US seventeen years ago. Over the years I’ve had my share of fabulous Karen Kane items, especially back when I wore solid black tops and dresses. The items are exceptional quality, with a special shout-out to their jersey knits that are very substantial, silky, and drape like a dream. Their casual dresses are my favourites, and always on my radar. My clients continue to adore the brand for the “easy to wear and launder” integrity of the items, wearable design, good fit, great quality, and high longevityfactor. Items are available on the Karen Kane site, or at department stores.
Shortly after the pandemic broke out in the Spring, and despite the enormous stresses that lay ahead for garment manufacture and retail, the Karen Kane factory got to work making masks and donating them to our healthcare heroes. I was very impressed, and yet not surprised because that’s how the owners are wired. You could buy the masks to help pay for the cutters and sewers, thereby keeping them employed. We bought their masks right away, which were too big for me at first. But after carefully altering the fit and inserting a filter, the masks fit really well and are comfortable. I have six of them, and wear them daily.
I can’t say enough about Karen Kane. The company is a class act, and a manufacturing role model. Karen herself is a modest, quiet, strong and extremely clever person. Looks like her design assistant Stevie — who likes a good animal print too — offers lots of support and inspiration!