NEW YORK — Norma Kamali has hit the accelerator on her year-old business, KamaliKulture, where everything in the line retails for under $100.
The line was inspired by Kamali’s three-year agreement designing Norma Kamali for Wal-Mart, which was both an in-store and Internet venture, that ended in spring 2011.
“It came about from my fantastic experience with Wal-Mart,” said Kamali, chief executive officer, in an interview at her West 56th Street headquarters here. “I wanted to do it myself and saw the e-commerce potential. I wanted to add another level of sophistication.”
KamaliKulture includes sportswear, suitings, dresses, swimwear, footwear and eyewear, all with a modern point of view. The line is sold to such accounts as nordstrom.com, kohls.com, Zappos.com, Amazon.com and Opening Ceremony in New York, Los Angeles, London and Tokyo, as well as kamalikulture.com.
KamaliKulture expects to generate $10 million in sales this year, said the designer.
To handle the fast growth, Kamali is beefing up management. She recently tapped Thomas Matthews as president of the brand. Earlier in his career, he was at Saks Fifth Avenue as group senior vice president, corporate administration/chief ethics and compliance officer. She also hired Christine Talevski as vice president of sales, effective April 10. Most recently Talevski had her own consulting firm in business development and merchandising, having previously been global vice president of Phi.
“We’re looking at expanding the categories. We’re talking about licensing and shapewear, as well as athletic sportswear. We’re looking at a strategic plan and want to take it global,” said Kamali.
“It’s not fast fashion. It’s timeless style, but it’s a great value. The e-commerce opportunities are everywhere,” she said.
The collection is manufactured in such places as China and Guatemala, often in the same factories that Kamali used for her Wal-Mart line. The clothes are easy care, can be rolled up to travel and are machine washable. The collection runs the gamut from $25 long-sleeve crewneck T-shirts and $40 trenchcoats to $96 long-sleeve sweetheart draped dresses and $98 halter swimsuits with shirring in the front. The line also contains classic suiting, such as a navy blue pinstripe suit with a skirt for $44, a pant for $50 and a jacket for $78. Fabrics include polyester and Lycra spandex; nylon and Lycra; polyester, and rayon and spandex.
There are a variety of styles in each category. The jersey dresses include color-blocked sheath styles; striped maxidresses; sleeveless shirred-waist dresses and animal faux wrap designs, all under $100. Some of the dress designs are fairly basic but look good on people, said Kamali. “It’s for people who have style and can play with it, and for people who don’t have a clue and they put it on, and they can’t go wrong. They’re not so much basic, but they are timeless.” Sizes range from 0 to 18.
Kamali, who continues to design her OMO designer collection, loves the fact that KamaliKulture is so affordable.
“Women want to be smart when they shop,” she said, adding that they like to do the high-low thing with their wardrobes. Kamali believes that women today have become very price conscious. “For the next 25 years, people will be thinking about how they’re spending their money. It’ll take a long time before people feel there’s no limit to what they spend, or maybe never again,” she said.
Kamali said she learned a great deal from her experience working with Wal-Mart. “They’re really good factories. It’s the design and how you construct it. We focus on our fabrications and we build a relationship with them [the factories]. Wal-Mart factories are great factories. They make clothing for high-end and contemporary designers, too,” she explained.
KamaliKulture is being used as a platform for Kamali’s campaign to empower women and help them overcome self-esteem issues and to bring awareness to the negative long-term impact of objectification. She is offering a necklace designed with a silver long chain and dog tags that have sayings imprinted on them for empowerment and awareness. She is also launching eight fragrances with empowerment statements on the bottles. These are designed as a way to begin the conversation about women’s self-esteem issues.
Kamali hosted an event at J.P. Morgan Wednesday, where she showed a short film of five women’s stories of objectification in the workplace, followed by a panel discussion.
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye
Did you know: @carlychaikin of "Mr. Robot" has been painting for about a decade? The actress, who plays Darlene on the show, is a self-taught artist who lists Salvador Dalí and Chuck Close as some of her idols. Chaikin told WWD that painting is a form of meditation for her — A much-needed one given the intensity of "Mr. Robot." See a piece Chaikin is working on at WWD.com (📷: @jilliansollazzo) #wwdeye