KZ_K Studio is a brand The House has been following for a while for many reasons. In an effort to discover slow fashion brands with multifunctional use, we discovered this NYC brand and immediately fell in love. The pieces are inventive, easy to style with your current closet situation, and will amp up your staple selection. Discover the inspiration behind the designs from KZ_K Studio’s latest launch, The Cool Cycle, and get to know what makes this brand special through our interview with Creative Director and Co-Founder, Karolina Zmarlak.
Congratulations on the launch of your Cool Cycle! There’s so much to take away from how these capsules were developed. Can you talk to us about the main inspiration behind the development of the line?
My partner in business and life, Jesse Keyes is an architect by trade, so each season typically begins with an architectural inspiration. For our Cycle 2.22 (cool weather) we looked to architect Charlotte Perriand. In her life, in its free spiritedness, she employed a highly conscious balance of work, leisure and sport which we captured within the collection.
You draw a lot of inspiration from architecture. Why is that field so important to you as a fashion designer?
Architects have an acute seriousness in their design and execution, it’s a precision that demands focus and attention and serves as a source of inspiration each season. Our collection, much like architecture, is designed so that the final product serves a functional, durable and aesthetic purpose for my client.
Architect Charlotte Perriand draws much of her own inspiration from natural elements – is this something that is important to your designs as well? Why?
Yes, nature is the source of all elements that go into design and production, but Perriand, after a period (rightfully) obsessed with the technological material advancement in architectural modernism, learned to (re)appreciate stone, wood and vegetal elements of nature that express extraordinarily exquisite aesthetics, purely as a consequence of geological and biological processes, and time. Ultimately the human form is a vastly variable, yet intrinsically similar form, so as Perriand built spaces and furniture to accommodate this natural form (of ours), we aim to do the same in clothing product design.
“To be aware of the natural world, is to be aware of oneself. We are (all) one.”
What important takeaways can the fashion industry learn from nature?
To be aware of the natural world, is to be aware of oneself. We are (all) one. The great naturalist, biologist, philosopher, bug searcher (and now, deceased, so wonderful to pick up “Consilience” in conservation), E.O. Wilson opined: “Destroying rainforest for economic gain is like burning a Renaissance painting to cook a meal.” The same is true, and more so, of fashion. Consilience is, precisely, the notion that to destroy one element of nature, just to consume it un-responsibly in another, is planetary cannibalism. Learn to be aware and careful of nature, as we are the same and one.
In your opinion, if we (consumers) were all closer to nature, how do you feel that would change the world?
Jesse’s mother was a “hippie” in California, after Jesse was conceived on a VW bus painted all the colors of the rainbow on a cross country (get out of the Northeast) trip to the Bay Area, and I was born in Krosno, a glass producing town in Communist Poland. Nature in both (recent) times, when Jesse and I were born, was more revered and, day-to-day, connected to one’s thoughts and lives. My parents had gardening plots on the outskirts of town to supplement the dinner table, and Jesse’s mom was a professional gardener. Since then, we’ve all been moving away from nature; and thus, by pure mother-earthly logic, we’re all moving in, entirely, the wrong direction.
There is a focus on simplicity with the designs in each of the capsules that make up the Cool Cycle. Would you consider some of the pieces staple items for a wardrobe?
As with the way Perriand saw space (in part) as a series of “equipments”- really well designed sets of storage that become the vector of harmony, we’ve created wearable pieces of multi functional simplicity to become a vector of productivity. Yes! A staple is an element of a personal uniform, a representation, externally worn, to live in and in which to express your aesthetic vision.
What did your creative process look like while you developed the Cool Cycle?
Each collection (one for cool weather, one for warm weather, each year) is fundamentally conceived in a specific movement of art, architecture or both, then conceptually developed in theory and visuals in our studio. We then connect our fabric and leather selections to our set of sketches, developing patterns with our team, then cut muslins and create sample collections, all draped, cut and sewn in the Garment District. Finally, we communicate, developing thoughtful sets of collateral through our Great Jones Street Studio, with the ultimate aim: a set of private atelier/studio appointments with our clients and stylists. The process of a full Cycle development takes place over 9-10 months.
Please describe the “convertible look” your studio is passionate about creating.
We conceived KZ_K Studio as a fashion line that would hew to the tenants of multi-functionalism, a foundational notion within the discipline of architecture. We wanted to make pieces that could be worn, each in many variations, and together in a series of alternative and creative ways to fit the unique functional and aesthetic needs of modern women. I had developed a made-to-measure business with Jesse, up until that point: but as the Great Recession hit, this new concept would allow our clients a similar kind of personalization, but would also be oriented toward creating value: buy 1 piece and wear it in 3 ways.
Convertible styles from Cool Cycle:
What’s next for KZ_K Studio?
The Rietveld Schröder House in Utrecht, the Netherlands.