Kim Kardashian West Wears Canadian Designer for Jeff Leatham II Launch

Kathryn Bowen was in her small Toronto studio on Nov. 3, stressed about the clothes she had yet to make for her upcoming fall collection, when she looked down at her phone — and there it is: The text that could , literally transforming her overnight from a guest at the biggest fashion party in North America to the belle of the whole ball.

“Can you make three dresses for Kim in two weeks?” it read.

The text was sent by a friend who had a friend on the KKW Fragrance marketing team. The “Kim” was Kim Kardashian.

“Yes!!!” Bowen answered as fast as his fingers could move. “I can do it 100%.”

Since April, Bowen had been trying to get her clothes on — boob-plumping, waist-hugging corsets and dresses that appear to have more boning than a salmon, but wear like comfy mesh pajamas, she says. — ahead of Kardashian West, arguably one of the most ubiquitous celebrities in the world right now.

“We knew she’d like it,” Bowen says of KKW, “because our stuff looks like what she wears.”

But even though she hoped the A-lister’s eyeballs would adorn her sexy, see-through designs, Bowen says, she never, in a million years, thought anything would come of it.

And then the pigs flew.

Bowen, who works near Bathurst and Dupont in Toronto, had just two weeks to produce three unique outfits for the ebony-haired siren to wear in promotional photos for this month’s launch of KKW’s new fragrance. Fragrance called Jeff Leatham II (a “trio of rich, floral, and decadent scents,” according to its website). It’s named after the beloved French designer who collaborated with KKW on the product — in at least one of the shots, he is depicted placing a white flower on KKW’s bare shoulder.

Now, after 14 jam-packed days in the fall — and two exciting sleepless nights in LA for tweaks and touch-ups — the photos are out and Kardashian West is sucked in, tucked in, and, quite literally, sewn into the bespoke garments of Bowen.

“That’s pretty awesome,” Bowen said. “It’s huge. Massive.”

Since joining KWW, Bowen has already landed two deals; one with Nordstrom in Canada and the United States and the other with Ssense, one of the largest online retailers in the world. Come spring, we’ll all be able to pick up versions of KKW outfits — corsets for around $500 and dresses for just over $1,000 — at stores near us. The spring capsule collection is made entirely of mesh, says Bowen, with corset detailing and sexy overlays.

And, she says, it will also include sexy basics, like pants and other “reimagined classic wardrobe essentials” in the sheer fabric. Bowen says Kardashian West solved the see-through problem by wearing Skims, her lingerie-disrupting shapewear, underneath for filming.

Bowen’s recent exposure is a testament to the power of stardom, says Brad Poulos, an entrepreneurship lecturer at Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Management.

“If you want to get big fast, you need something like this,” he says.

While many businesses grow over time and become successful, a celebrity is “great” for increasing your brand awareness and buzz, he says. And often it doesn’t have to be someone as big as KKW, he says, it could be an influencer in the right niche, a blogger. But there are pitfalls, he says.

With today’s cancel culture, anyone could be on the brink of doing something that ruins their reputation and, ultimately, your brand.

“People are always capable of getting into trouble, so it’s not without risks,” Poulos says. “Then you have to think about what this association is going to mean.”

Also, he says, hype is only part of making the sale and comes with no guarantees, he says. The question is always: “Create customers? »

Susan Langdon, executive director of the Toronto Fashion Incubator (TFI), a nonprofit that helps launch and grow fledgling fashion businesses, says she’s seen several examples of celebrity nudges that have helped emerging Canadian designers to sell their clothes.

In being struck by this Kardashian-shaped lightning bolt, Langdon says, Bowen joins other fashion designers whose careers have been aided by celebrities. Earlier this year, Toronto designer Sid Neigum, she says, sold her purple patent-leather coat after KKW’s half-sister Kylie Jenner wore it on Instagram.

Social media, says Langdon, has been a game-changer for fashion designers to get noticed. Before Instagram and Facebook, et. al., she says, they should fight to have their clothes featured in fashion shows around the world and in front of major fashion houses and celebrities. And even then, she says, it’s been hard to get attention for your brand.

Now, fashion designers can find and tag in a post the stylists of the celebrities they want to wear on their clothes and boom! This could be the ticket.

“Before, there were six degrees of separation,” Langdon says. “Now it’s more like a degree. You can shop from the comfort of your room and discover new brands. You don’t have to travel.

There’s no doubt that, like all industries, Canadian fashion has suffered during COVID, Langdon says, and the scene is “calm.” There are no in-person events. No parties. But the industry is far from dead, she says, especially since digital events have been a boon.

Earlier this year, she says, TFI showcased the work of 14 emerging apparel brands in a digital space and nearly half of them have struck deals with major retailers around the world, driving wholesale sales. collective of a million dollars.

The interest in Bowen’s clothes is another example of the talent there is in this country, Langdon says, especially as brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Fendi practically pounce on the likes of Kardashian West.

“Why did she choose a Canadian designer? Because the design is good,” says Langdon. “Because it’s innovative. It’s exiting. It deserves attention. »

Bowen, who studied fashion design in London, England and interned at Marc Jacobs in New York, has her fingers crossed for more. A short time ago – before the launch – Kardashian tagged Bowen in a post, but the focus remained on the dress and the fragrance. But now that the product and images are out, Bowen is getting a lot of what she calls “researching celebrity stylists for potential projects” and lots of DM inquiries about her work.

She’s keeping her fingers crossed that one particular stylist sees her clothes and likes what she sees. FKA Twigs, an alternative artist and dancer, is from London, England, and Bowen says she would love to design costumes for her.

“I worked really hard,” says Bowen. “But it’s an exciting time and I’m so grateful for this opportunity.”

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