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Karen Harman Launches Her Own Label for Fall

The sportswear designer spent 10 years as vice president of design for Dana Buchman and six years as vice president of design for The Talbots Collection.

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Karen Harman is striking out on her own.

This story first appeared in the March 12, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The sportswear designer spent 10 years as vice president of design for Dana Buchman and six years as vice president of design for The Talbots Collection, before becoming a designer for private label at Maggy London and creative director at Kazu. Now, she’s decided to launch a designer collection of tops and blouses for fall under her own name.

“I just decided I wanted to do something more that used my talent and my taste,” said Harman, who is financing her blouse business herself with family and friends. She is currently in discussion with potential business partners.

Harman said she’s the kind of person who always overthinks everything. “But when it came to launching my own division, I stopped thinking; I just proceeded, a totally unusual thing for me to do. And I must say that once I did that, everything began to fall into place — perhaps the planets aligned or whatever, but doing my own line, with my own vision, has made me fall in love with fashion all over again, much as I felt when I first began. This is not a vanity project for me. This is my heart.”

The blouses, which feature silk satins, silk charmeuse, stretch cottons, leathers and jacquards, are manufactured entirely in New York.

“I think it’s really important to have them Made in the USA. It gives you flexibility. I love the [New York] Garment Center. Within a three-block radius, I have everything I need,” said Harman, who is based at 209 West 38th Street in Manhattan.

Fall offerings feature a silk satin chiffon bow blouse in oxblood or charcoal, a white or black stretch cotton blazer blouse, a black silk habotai ruched and pleated French maid blouse and an oxblood or camel silk satin cargo jacket. Blouses wholesale from $175 to $250. Harman described the line, which has a dressy sensibility, as “approachable glamour” and “attainable luxury.”

Harman said the first season out, she is strategically targeting specialty stores and keeping the collection tight.

“I looked at all my friends and every woman I know has 20 pairs of black pants. The line for this season is geared to wear with black. I’m showing the blouses to wear with black leather pants, black leggings and skirts. “Everyone has a ton of jackets and T-shirts. Blouses are a newish way of dressing now and updates everything you have.”

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