Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Kamali Kulture by Norma Kamali

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Recently I had the chance to meet with Norma Kamali to discuss her Kamali Kulture collection, blogging and self confidence. I was a little nervous meeting someone who is a bit of a design legend.  Add to that the fact that I admire her style and own a few pieces that from her past collaborations with Everlast and Walmart and my nerves are floating around my stomach. While sitting in her Wellness Cafe and sipping on some delicious fresh pressed green juice,  Ms Kamali enters the room and grabs a Chia Seed snack. She introduces herself and quickly explains that travelling between 3 time zones has her starving as she gently takes a few bites.
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Almost like an old friend she talks about her filming experience on VH1 and how amazing the women were who personalized and styled pieces wearing them in totally new and chic ways. She shares how she was most impressed by a young lady who took a top and turned it into pants by putting her legs through the sleeves and letting it create a unique drop crotch effect.  As she chats with me I quietly notice that somehow age hasn't affected her virtually lineless face and super shiny head of hair.

Kamali explains that when she started her Walmart collection she had not planned for it but initially everywhere she went people would tell her how they used to wear Norma Kamali but could no longer wear it. As her customers grew up, their bodies and wallets changed after children. When Walmart approached her they told her to do her thing, gave her a brand manager and the next thing she knew online sales were growing rapidly. Women who never shopped at Walmart were scooping up items and it broadened her audience immensely.
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It was here that Kamali learned the importance of having great suppliers and she built strong relationships over the 3 years.  She knew that what she wanted to do next would require changes and her time with Walmart was over. Although the quality and price of the Walmart collection was quite astonishing, having to keep the collection primarily at under $25 really restricted her vision. Keeping the budget conscious every woman in mind, Kamali decided to create a collection that fit a large range of sizes from size 0 to 18 all for under $100. Instead of trying to compete with fast fashion the collection would be comprised of classic staples that any woman can build her wardrobe around. Clothes that a woman can look at and feel they were smart in their decisions and therefore in their appearance. Clothes that would empower a woman and build her confidence. Women all around the globe face the same issues with being judged for beauty, self confidence, success. Kamali has a democratic vision for this collection, a common experience that sets the stage for a global vision.

Kamali and I share the belief that clothing can provide as much excitement, energy and empowerment as any therapy session. How a woman feels in their clothing can uplift her entire day. She also believes in keeping material things in check and only keeps what she wears and loves instead of letting material goods own and consume her. She found it very cleansing to eliminate all of the chaos from her life. As I make my seasonal closet edit they are words to think about. Do I own this top because I love it or because I think the color is great and it lifts my closet?  Words I've been thinking about critically.

She also shares how her boyfriend said the phrase shit to share in conversation and how she immediately thought it was a brilliant phrase.  Kamali trademarked "Shit to Share" as a platform to give her customers a voice.
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Classic Kamali All-in-One Dress creates a multitude of different looks

She also says to expect shoes that will be comfortable coming soon to  Kamali Kulture.  One day when Kamali was caught in the rain, in heels with her dog trying to run to catch a cab because her dog had accidentally consumed several pounds of chocolate she found herself thinking how comfortable and great the shoes she was wearing was.  This lead her to seek out comfort as a necessary component in the design of her new venture into footwear.

I had a chance to view the collection and try on one of the pieces.  It was super comfortable and I felt effortlessly chic in the dress.  Somehow there was just the right of sexy attitude while covering up my belly in a uber flattering manner.  Although the collection is value priced – details are not skimped out on.  Jackets have real functioning plackets and buttons, skirts have kick pleats and the sunglasses are actually manufactured at the same factory that the collection frames are produced – which makes them an incredible bargain.  The fabrications also lend themselves to easy travelling.

Kamali Kulture is available online at KamaliKulture.com, Amazon.com and Zappos.com.

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