Covering the Launch of Karen Kane’s Online Store

Over the next few weeks there will be a lot of Karen Kane coverage here on YLF as we help the company promote the launch of its first online store. I thought the way this came about is an interesting story and perfect material for our backstage blog.

It’s no secret that Angie has been a longtime fan of Karen Kane, both the designer herself and the products that carry her name. But we only started to get to know the company late last year when we were contacted by Karen’s son, Michael. We didn’t know it at the time, but Michael wasn’t yet working fulltime for the family business. Since his communications degree at Northwestern he had been working in entertainment, first at Creative Artists Agency, and then at ID Public Relations as an assistant publicist, but decided that he wanted to get into the apparel industry with his parents. Karen Kane didn’t have a marketing department, but Michael saw the opportunity to reach out to the end customers of their products and wanted to build one from scratch.

From our very first contact with Michael we loved working with him. We get contacted by PR and marketing people all the time, but he seemed to understand where we are coming from, and he clearly had a much deeper understanding of the industry than most. When we found out that he was in his early twenties, it was a great reminder that one should never make judgements about people based on their age or years of experience.

We started to understand the extent to which Karen Kane was a family business when Angie interviewed Karen back in February 2011. Her husband Lonnie is her partner in the business, focusing on the production and financial aspects while she focuses on design. Three out of Michael’s four grandparents have worked at the company. In fact, Lonnie’s mother still runs some aspects of KK administration and comes in 4 times a week. Michael is director of marketing, and his brother Robert is currently working at the company over the summer. As a couple who loves working together — I guess YLF is a family business too — we found this very compelling.

A few months ago we learned that KK would be launching their own online store. Given the great working relationship it was natural for Michael and I to start brainstorming ways that YLF might help KK to promote the new store. For KK, it would help to get the word out to women about their new online presence. For YLF it was an opportunity to try some new promotion ideas and to observe the creation of a new online retail store from up close.

Angie and I love the idea of telling our readers more about the fascinating world of clothing design and production. We had just started to dip our toes into the context of fashion and style with Michelle’s wonderful posts, and this was an opportunity to go deeper and get a true insider perspective on the industry. So tomorrow we start a series of sponsored posts that go behind the scenes at Karen Kane, looking at how different aspects of the business work. We hope we can convey the excitement of seeing an insider’s perspective of the KK operation.

We plan to continue bringing you the behind the scenes perspective beyond KK’s July launch. And after all the fascinating rag trade stories we heard during our time with the Kane family last week I am trying to convince Michael to write an insider’s column on YLF (so if you like that idea then be sure to say so in the comments to this post!). We’re also hoping that this can be a model for the way we work with other businesses who would like to open up their process to YLF scrutiny.

Putting Fashion and Style in Context

Angie and I often talk about how lucky we are that the YouLookFab community developed the way it did. So many smart, fun, compassionate people in one place all talking about something that we are passionate about too: fashion and style. There is seemingly no end to the interesting questions, great new outfit ideas and fun topics.

We’ve also noticed that the interest doesn’t end with the outfits. Angie’s occasional posts that dig into the mechanics of the fashion industry, its role in society and its impact on the environment always generate a lot of enthusiastic and thoughtful discussion. This totally makes sense: if you’re interested in fashion and style, then you’re probably also interested in the context of fashion and style. You aren’t satisfied just accepting the lack of small sizes, or the abundance of summer dresses in mid-Winter, or the sudden hike in prices. You want to know why things are the way they are, and discuss this with other people who, like you, see fashion as more than just a pretty ensemble.

So we’re going to experiment with the idea of writing more about the context of fashion on YLF. We don’t plan to post less of Angie’s advice and analysis, but we would like to post more about the broader context of Angie’s articles.

Since this is a little more like journalism than Angie’s current writing, we reached out to a journalist to help us get it off the ground — our very own Michelle McQuigge, a long time YLF forum member. While Angie continues to post as before, Michelle and I will be looking for opportunities to start conversations around the business, culture, technology and environmental impact of fashion. Obviously, as an 18 year veteran of the fashion industry, Angie is sure to be our most important “source”.

We’re not quite sure where this will end up, but we’re starting things off with today’s article by Michelle — some fascinating background on imminent apparel price hikes and their likely consequences for consumers. We hope you enjoy it!