Hi Tan, can you tell us a bit about your background and why you decided to work in fashion design?
I’m a British man. It’s funny, many people think that the owner of Kingdom & State is a woman, but nope. I am 30 years old. I was born and raised in England, and England is still my home, but I now live between London and the U.S.
I first decided that I wanted to be in the industry when I was around 7. My grandparents owned a factory in the North of England, which produced denim products for Disney. I used to help out every summer, and loved it. I learnt to sew, and took that experience with me to fashion college, when I was 18. I then started working for the largest International clothing retailer, Zara, where I also learnt the operational side of fashion retail.
Tell us about Kingdom and State – how did it start and what does it represent?
After working at Zara and a couple of other fashion retailers, I knew that it was time to start my own brand. I had always wanted to focus on womenswear, but I didn’t know what exactly. My last job before Kingdom & State was with a modest brand called Shade Clothing, where I was the company Director. That was the turning point for me. I wanted to create a company that offered modest clothing, but one that was fashionable enough to compete with other young fashion brands out there.
Can you tell us the steps you take before we see your dress in our store?
The design process begins around 1 year before you see it in stores/online. I watch the runways very closely, to see what silhouettes are making their way into season, and which colours are the stand outs. Then, we start the sketching, technical work and fabric selection process. This can take weeks/months. We then make final selections on colours/prints, before laying out the collection, to make sure it’s cohesive. We then receive fit samples in all styles. If we’re happy with them, we give the go ahead for production, which take a few months. Then that magical day arrives, when I feel like a kid in a candy store. We receive the product that you now see in your store.
What are some challenges you have encountered in the design process?
The most difficult part of the process is making sure we cater to our girl. We don’t want to be like everyone else. We want to give our girl a reason to come back to us, over and over again, and to make Kingdom & State their first choice for any occasion. The way we do this is by making sure we offer a style that is not only modest, but also on-trend enough to make her feel as hot and confident as any other girl out there.
How do you ensure your collection is made to a high standard?
I actually visit our factories every season, to be there for the sampling process. This is to make sure the style is exactly what I want it to be. Then, I stay for the start of production, to make sure that the fabrics, colours, prints and finishings are how they should be. It’s a difficult process, but a crucial one.
Red and pink are a risky combination – what inspired you to match them and how did you make it work?
This is a perfect example of Kingdom & State being on-trend with the biggest designers. This dress was inspired by a Dior dress that I loved, which was pink and red. However, the dress was a little ‘out there’ for a regular customer, and wasn’t as modest as we’d want it to be, for our girl. So, we made it more ‘Kingdom & State’ and voila. Our first production of the dress sold out on the first day of our Fall Launch. We are so happy with that statement dress.
We love the Digital Print – tell us more about this fabric and the design of this dress.
Digital Printing is a massive trend right now, as one can create the most detailed, interesting prints using this method. However, up until last season, it was mostly the high end designers who were using this process, as it’s much more expensive than screen printing. We wanted to offer to our girl, so we found a way of doing it on simple silhouettes, to bring the cost down, but still keep the integrity of the print. The digital print pieces are some of my favourite pieces that we’ve ever produced, and you’ll be seeing it a lot more in our future apparel and swim collections. Watch this space. It’s about to get super-styley.
What inspires your designs?
The runway, and street style. I will be going to New York Fashion week, this coming season, so expect to see many styles that are inspired by what I see out there. It’s the most inspirational time of year for me.
Plans for the coming year?
Our styles for this coming year are mostly designed already. We are super excited about what’s coming and we think our customers will be too. For our swim, we have some great new styles coming, along with our classic shapes, which have had some great updates. For our apparel, expect to see beautiful clean lines, classic shapes, but with some great digital prints and incredible textures thrown in, to keep our girl looking as fashionable as she expects to be, when wearing Kingdom & State.
Thank you for your time Tan, we look forward to seeing more of Kingdom & State!