Mother, an emotionally charged word, is the name of a new denim brand.
This story first appeared in the July 27, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“God, politics, swear words and mother,” said Tim Kaeding, who with Lela Tillem, launched Mother a year ago. “Few other words evoke so much conversation. It can be sweet and loving or dangerous and fierce. We wanted something that was one word, stark and in your face.”
Mother, the line, juxtaposes opposites in the same garment, such as soft and edgy, and uses a range of washes and colors from buttery pastels to deep black. Kaeding, who was head of design at Seven For All Mankind, worked with mills in Turkey, Italy and Japan to create a proprietary fabric. “It’s a very unorthodox denim fabric,” he said. “The end result doesn’t feel like jeans, it feels more luxurious.”
The fabric consists of various combinations of rayons, polyesters, Modals and Tencels, “fibers that have been around for years and years, but now the technology is better,” Kaeding said. “We worked with laundries and washing formulas. That’s really what the secret is.”
The Los Angeles-based company is on track to do $12 million to $15 million in sales in its first year, according to Tillem, who noted that the line is carried at Bergdorf Goodman, Nordstrom and Barneys New York, as well as specialty stores such as Elise Walker, Ron Herman and Curve. Mother was just picked up by Kirna Zabête in New York and is the store’s first denim brand. Mother also has a presence in 20 countries, including the U.K., Germany and Italy.
Mother never intended to target mothers, just “someone who appreciates jeans and notices something very luxurious,” Kaeding said, adding that the company “tries to keep prices under $200 a pair.”
Tillem and Kaeding left their respective employers two years ago at a time when “everybody was cannibalizing everybody’s ideas,” Kaeding said. “In the last five years, there hasn’t been a big denim brand that’s stepped up to the plate. By the time we were ready to launch Mother, high-end designers were sending flares and higher waists and new fits down the runway” so Mother was able to feature both new styles and new fabrics.
The company introduces about 30 styles per month, including 25 fashion options and seasonal deliveries and five or six core basics.
Like the product’s aesthetic, Mother’s logo, Web site and marketing is spare. “With jeans brands, everything is scrolly and tea-stained,” Kaeding said. “It’s played out. We wanted to position the brand the way a designer would do it. Chanel, like Mother, is one word. It’s elegant and sophisticated.”