story / Alyssa Hardy
Kelsey Randall is a DIY designer in the most literal sense possible. She is forging her way through the competitive fashion industry taking on every role she can possible in her business… and it’s working. Her fall/winter ’16 collection is a cross over between the dark leather grunge of New York and frilly and femme “Georgia peach” flounce of her Atlanta roots. At the cornerstone of her brand, with all it’s bows and badass, is her commitment to ethical manufacturing. All of her pieces are made in New York and her love for her city and the quality of the garments shines through that. When we caught up with her at Lower East Side staple, Schillers where we talked, fashion, burnout and day drinking.
On how she got her start.
“I always knew I wanted to do something creative. I was really into art and fashion. I went to a boarding school in Napa Valley, that was arts based so that really helped me to build my portfolio and decide to I want to follow art or fashion. In the end I ultimately decided on fashion because art was something I could always continue to evolve with but fashion is a trade you have to learn. You can’t just make up how to do pattern design. I really just wanted to study it.”
On her southern influences.
“I don’t know how Atlanta factors into my collections except for maybe gingham and ruffles which are very country girl. New York is really where I wanted to be, and I definitely had some growing pains as far as wanting to get to the big city so that really influences my work. One of my big influences is Louise Bourgeois, she’s French but there’s something countryside, and nostalgia for childhood there. I love ruffles and bows and that sort of stuff.”
On the running the business side of her collection.
“Mostly wholesale is what taught me what I needed to learn to start my own business. They don’t teach you that in school. Most people tend to have a business partner when they start, I studied fashion in school and then the past few years have really been just me getting this business off the ground. I graduated from Parson’s in 2009 at the height of the recession and no one was hiring for assistant design positions so I decided to learn the business in the meantime. I wanted to sustain more than one collection.”
On social media.
“I feel like I’m still learning social media. I only joined Instagram this summer, when everyone told me I needed to have it. I’m a late-comer. For me a big focus is the visuals, the lookbooks and the presentations being spot on. You can have a great Instagram, but a hard copy lookbook goes a long way.”
On diversity in fashion.
“Diversity in the industry is important to me. I feel strongly about that. I my campaigns to reflect my girl and that’s never limited to a white girl. When you cast like that it makes it seem like that’s who you think buys your clothes and that’s just not what my line is. I’m a little bit more realistic about what people want to actually wear. They want a dress that they can wear again. There needs to be an ease.”
On lessons she’s learning.
“I’m learning patience. I’ve always known I wanted to have my own line and I even remember being 18 and saying to my parents I’ll be happy if my line is successful by the time I’m 40 because that’s the reality. It takes so long to grow a line and brand. You look at someone like Bouchra Jarrar who just got the Lanvin position and all these people are like who? And she’s been around forever doing couture so high up.”
Click through below to see the Kelsey Randall A/W 2016 Collection