If anyone still doubts the staying power of Kendall and Kylie Jenner, the two youngest members of the Kardashian-Jenner clan have hit a milestone that many other brands have struggled to reach amid the troubled retail climate.
“We have a few years now under our belt and definitely feel like we’ve hit our stride,” said Kylie, 19, who earned the distinction of being the youngest person on Forbes’ latest ranking of the highest-paid celebrities in the world, with earnings of $41 million. Kendall, 21, is currently one of the top-earning models, according to Forbes, with earnings of $10 million in 2016 included in her estimated $36 million net worth.
The contemporary line Kendall + Kylie was launched two years ago this month and wholesales to 390 doors in the U.S. and 975 worldwide, including Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, Shopbop, Revolve, Selfridges, Printemps, I.T. Hong Kong and Luisa Via Roma. Retail prices range from $50 to $495, with the majority of pieces selling for under $195.
Last year the sisters introduced an #OnlyatNM capsule collection and have also expanded into handbags and eyewear since their initial foray into apparel, swim and shoes.
Here, the Jenners share what they’ve learned about the fashion business, where they get their design inspiration and how they like to shop. As for what categories are next for the K + K line, they won’t say – but jewelry, activewear or fragrance could be next.
WWD: How has the look of the collection evolved over the past two years?
Kylie: We have learned what the customer wants and what she gravitates towards through trial and error. We love to push the envelope with adding statement and novelty styles that in the past we would have shied away from and seeing how our customer has loved those items has been amazing. Now we love to offer our core basics and then sprinkle in the fun statement items.
Kendall: I agree with Kylie – the foundation of the collection remains tried and true basics with a twist. We have fun reinventing these styles every season and learning what our customer is coming to us for. Creating the statement pieces and having our customers love them is like icing in the cake.
WWD: Who or what other style inspirations do you use for the collection?
Kylie: I love pulling from vintage shops and old design house books.
Kendall: I always have our mood boards, and love pulling from classic fashion photographers for color and print inspiration.
WWD: In what ways have you broadened or deepened the assortment? Or have you edited it down?
Kylie: In the beginning we didn’t know what our customer would love from us so we kind of gave her a little bit of everything and then watched to see how she reacted. Seeing our bodysuits and dresses take off was amazing. Focusing our collection after that has been fun because our customer loves what we love.
Kendall: We have focused our rtw assortment on everyday basics and added a few covetable fashion pieces. Our accessories were created to complete the lifestyle and look and to create newness and novelty each season, giving our customer more options on how to pull looks together and keep them looking fresh and trend relevant.
WWD: What are your bestsellers?
Kylie: Our bodysuits, knit dresses and sneakers have been best sellers since we launched them.
Kendall: Yes! Our bodysuits, backpacks and more forward eyewear have been extremely successful.
WWD: How have your personal styles evolved over the last two years?
Kylie: I definitely feel more comfortable with who I am and where I am in my life, and love taking risks and putting unexpected styles and colors together to create my own look. I love being comfortable in everything I wear.
Kendall: I have been exposed to so many amazing design houses and brands, I have definitely learned how to pull pieces together to create a very polished look with everyday classics and statement pieces.
WWD: Are there things you wear now that you didn’t before? Are there new looks or moods you are into? Or do you stay pretty consistent?
Kylie: I am not consistent and love mixing things up and pulling inspiration from different icons and eras.
Kendall: I started a mood board in my closet that I continually add to. Things that inspire me, looks that I love from different eras that I reference for inspiration. I take more risks and feel more comfortable putting styles together in an unexpected way.
WWD: In what ways have you incorporated that into the collection?
Kylie: Our focus has always been on creating comfortable basics with a twist. Putting unexpected details on an everyday top or dress, and styling it back to something fun. I pull inspiration from my closet to reference past favorite looks.
Kendall: Our names are on the label, and we strive to constantly create and design styles that we ourselves want to wear and pair with statement pieces and vintage from our own closets. We have been very consistent with our vision of creating wearable and fun everyday classics.
WWD: What is the most important thing you’ve learned, business-wise, from the experience?
Kylie: Creating a brand takes time and the key is listening to our customers and creating newness each season in categories she loves from us.
Kendall: Each category we introduce has its learning curve based on us taking the time to develop the line and then, most importantly, seeing what our customer gravitates towards. Then it’s back to the drawing board to tweak and perfect our brand formula.
WWD: What has it taught you about yourself, personally?
Kylie: To listen to my instincts.
Kendall: Trust that taking risks is worth it and if we love it, so will our fans.
WWD: What has been the biggest challenge in launching the line?
Kendall: When Kylie and I launched this line we were so young and also still figuring out our own personal style and what we loved … so building a brand and trying to figure out who our K+K customer was and what she wanted on top of that was definitely a challenge. Now looking back on the other side and knowing what we personally love along with what our customer wants is amazing. Now we get to combine the two and create styles that she comes back to us for each season.
WWD: What’s been the most surprising thing about the business to you?
Kendall: We remind ourselves never to get comfortable! The fashion industry is changing now more than ever and the key is to have your eyes wide open and to have fun creating.
WWD: What differences do you see between the brick and mortar business and the e-comm business for your collection? Is one growing more quickly than the other?
Kylie: E-comm is the future of how people in our generation shop. Creating experiences and covetable items online helps to create and build excitement and give customers a reason to continually shop.
Kendall: I completely agree. Don’t get me wrong – I love going in to stores to touch, feel and try on product, but there is something to be said about being able to test and try new ideas and strategies out online.
WWD: What are your favorite Instagram accounts to follow for style inspiration?
Kylie: Honestly, I find the most random accounts and pull for inspiration. Everyday beautiful people that I see and love their style become some of the most influential for me.
Kendall: I’m more of a Pinterest mood board kind of girl so I pull most of our inspiration from there versus Instagram.