It’s hard to build a versatile wardrobe, especially if you fill a lot of roles – mum, working person, BFF – and have to attend different occasions. Fortunately, one women’s brand has done the work for you.
NYC-based Kings County Parlor creates clothing that’s customised and versatile. They rely on the 80-20 rule, which states that 80 per cent of the outcome results from 20 per cent of the cause. In this case, 20 per cent of your wardrobe is what you’ll be wearing 80 per cent of the time.
“Our clothes work overtime to be your Monday-to-Friday, day-to-night, and your Saturdays too,” their company philosophy reads.
We had a chat with Kings County Parlor founder Silvana Kim to learn more about this fascinating approach to fashion.
What inspired you to start Kings County Parlor? What was the ‘lightbulb moment’ that led you to this fashion label?
“My lightbulb moment was more of a slow burning flickering that started with a lot of whys. My previous chapters before Kings County Parlor include jobs in management consulting and finance, but I always lived downtown and in Brooklyn because the downtown scene was where I wanted to be in my off hours.
“This uptown by day, downtown by night Jekyll and Hyde lifestyle was reflected in my compartmentalised closet, but I wanted a singular wardrobe that would adapt to all the things I was doing and the places I was going to in the span of my day.
“Soon women were asking me for styling help and I became a de facto stylist and that’s when I realised that I wasn’t alone in my search for a wardrobe that could adapt to our lives. The issue was that sourcing clothes that checked off all the boxes were few and far in-between. I didn’t start with the desire to launch a label, I just wanted some answers.
“Why were we compromising our styles because of our lifestyles? Why wasn’t there a go-to brand for the multi-faceted woman? What would it look like?”
We love how you aim to showcase clothes that are versatile, with one item able to be worn on three different events or roles. What are the challenges to finding clothes like these? And how does one exactly identify a piece of clothing that’s versatile?
“I think the challenge in finding versatile clothes is not compromising. The clothes that don’t ask someone to compromise on style and do the work of adapting to the wearer are the real gems (and workhorses) in closets.
“A great rule of thumb for gauging how versatile a particular item will be is to count how many different looks can it be worn with, how many diverse events can it see you through.”
You curate brands that are ethically made. What’s your criteria when it comes to sourcing ethical fashion?
“The first question we ask is, which factories brands are using. Unethical factory answers are a deal breaker and we don’t pursue it any farther.
“The next question is around the processes that were used in the fabrication of textiles used (dying processes, mills, etc). The second question is harder to satisfy, even in our own brand development, so we’re always on the look out for brands that are trying their utmost to create in a thoughtful way.”
You also started your own line, ‘hermana. s’. Please tell us more about it.
“hermana.s is my love letter to the women that inspire me and others by living their life to the fullest. My team and I start with a woman, who’s an amalgam of the ladies we know or look up to and think about her day. We pick a week in her life and come up with her schedule and think about what she probably has in her closet and what’s lacking.
“We only make the items that pass our versatility test, because our aim is for these clothes to live in her closet for a long time. It’s important to us that she reach for it again and again, and for each time that she reaches for a hermana.s item to feel new and special.
“Our test is can our woman wear this to two or more diverse events in her week, and will she feel special every time.
“Ethics is something else we stand behind, so I decided to produce our clothes in NYC where we would have transparency behind our factory partner. Also, NY is home and is as much a part of our story as the women who inspire us.”
Kings County Parlor also provides fashion services, including a styling session after clothes are delivered. Can you elaborate more on how these styling sessions go? And how are customer responses to this very personal service?
“The styling sessions happen once women receive their clothes, I try to do these in person for NYC residents, but they also happen over Skype and Google Hangout. The response has been great so far, and it’s gratifying to see something I believe in resonating with like-minded women.
“The reason why we hold styling sessions after purchase is because I want them to only buy our clothes if they love it, not because there’s a stylist telling them that it’s an amazing product (even though it is!).
“After they’ve had a chance to try it on, we have a styling session so we can address any questions but mainly to work together to come up with as many outfits as we can with their purchases (as girlfriends would do after a shopping trip). This is honestly the second best part of my job.”
Lastly, what should we watch out for from Kings County Parlor in the near future?
“The next phase we’re very excited to roll out for fall/winter is an expansion on the sizes we offer (we’re currently XS – XL | US 0 – US 14). We had some incredible feedback after our launch and it’s something we’re committed to getting done ASAP.”