Kahle:


we sat down and discussed authenticity, transparency and designing from artistic concept with Mary Kahle in her Brooklyn design studio...


we’ve been huge fans of Kahle for over a year, but tell us how everything began. why Kahle?


KAHLE, MY LAST NAME HAPPENED TO BE A FITTING PROMPT AND/OR CHALLENGE TO LOOK AT. IT IS GERMAN, MEANING UNADORNED OR BARE. I THINK OF LOOKING AT THE UNADORNED BODY, LOOKING AT HOW IT MOVES, HOW IT FEELS...APPLYING FABRIC IN A SHAPE TO MATCH, CREATING A PERSONA, THEN FURTHER CREATING A FINAL STYLE.

do the technical aspects come to you as easily as the conceptual?

I STARTED SEWING WHEN I WAS EIGHT WHEN MY GRANDMOTHER TAUGHT ME HOW TO QUILT.  IN HIGH SCHOOL MY MOTHER INSISTED I DID NOT NEED VARIOUS
OUTFITS FOR DANCE, SO I WOULD DRAPE AND PLAY WITH FABRICS THEN SEW MY OWN NEW GARMENTS.

is how you intended Kahle to be perceived the same or varied from its current voice?

I KNEW I WOULD ALWAYS BE IN A NICHE CATEGORY, BUT IN THE BEGINNING I WAS TRYING TO BE MORE WIDELY ACCESSIBLE. IT WAS EXCITING TO BE SOLD IN VARIOUS MARKETS AND RETAILERS, BUT I REALIZED IT WAS IMPORTANT FOR ME TO WORK WITH RETAILERS WHO HAVE A ONE ON ONE CONNECTION WITH THEIR CUSTOMERS. CAFE FORGOT WAS ONE OF THE RETAILERS WHO HELPED ME IDENTIFY MY BASE. THEY HELPED ME CONNECT WITH “KAHLE CUSTOMER”.


do you think the wave of brands describing themselves and/or their practices with the terminology - sustainable, ethical, transparent, circular, etc. is an intentional shift in the industry, a marketing tool, fad, or a mixture?

I THINK BOTH. IT BRINGS ME BACK TO THE “LOW-CALORIE” MARKETING PHASE. WHERE SUDDENLY EVERYTHING COULD BE “LOW-CALORIE”.

I THINK SOME BRANDS ARE JUMPING ON THE BANDWAGON NOW THAT THEY SEE THERE’S A MARKET. TRANSPARENCY EFFORTS HAVE TO BE PROVEN AND SHOWN.


I AM TRANSPARENT AND SUSTAINABLE TO THE EXTENT THAT I CAN BE. I BUY FABRC FROM AN IN-STOCK PROGRAM, MEANING I AM NOT FORCED INTO BUYING BULK MATERIAL THAT I WILL NOT USE. I OFTEN USE DEADSTOCK MATERIALS, EVEN DOWN TO BUTTONS AND NOTIONS. A MORE RECENT INITATIVE THAT I AM DOING, IS EITHER REUSING OR REWORKING OLD FABRICS, INVENTORY, AND SCRAPS TO MAKE NEW PIECES.

how does modern consumption affect, not only, your business model, but your personal perspective?

I ALWAYS STRUGGLE WITH THIS! FOR ME, KAHLE IS MY ARTWORK.
I HATE THE PRESSURE OF HAVING TO CONSTANTLY POST ON SOCIAL MEDIA WITH UPDATES, DISCOUNTS, “SHOP NOW, BUY NOW”, ETC. IT IS DEFINITELY A CATCH 22. I AM AN ARTIST, BUT MY ART IS ALSO MY BUSINESS AND I NEED CASHFLOW. IN THE END, I THINK PEOPLE CARE ABOUT SUPPORTING YOU WHEN THEY CAN TELL YOUR MESSAGE IS GENUINE.

I DO WANT TO OFFER MORE “SEE NOW, BUY NOW” OPTIONS. SO YOU WON’T HAVE TO WAIT SEVERAL WEEKS TO MONTHS FOR AN ITEM YOU’RE DRAWN TO. THOUGH PEOPLE DO BUY PIECES FROM SEVERAL SEASONS AGO AND EXPRESS THAT THEY STILL FEEL REALLY FRESH TO THEM, WHICH I THINK IS MOST IMPORTANT.






your thoughts on auntenticity in today’s artistic environment?

NOTHING IS ORIGINAL, NOT TO BE PESSIMISTIC. BUT THERE IS A GENUINE WAY TO MAKE THINGS FEEL NEW, AUTHENTIC AND UNIQUE. YOU MUST HAVE YOUR OWN VOICE AND VISION.

MANY BRAND’S BASE IS TREND-BASED. THEY BUILD THEIR ENTIRE ETHOS AROUND A FEW SINGULAR TRENDS. THEY START WITH A TREND-DRIVEN AESTHETIC AND THEN ATTEMPT TO KEEP BUILDING OFF OF THAT. I’M WELL AWARE FASHION LOOKS BACK TO FASHION HISTORY, BUT YOUR DESIGN PROCESS HAS TO START WITH A MORE DIVERSE VISION.


give us some insight on your design process and your next season.

MY CONCEPTS COME FROM A MORE THEATRICAL PLACE. I CREATE A STORY INSIDE MY HEAD USUALLY WITHOUT KNOWNG ALL OTHER INFLUENCES EXIST.

THE THOUGHT PROCESS CAN BRANCH FROM A PIECE OF ARTWORK, COLOR PALLETE, FABRIC TEXTURE OR SOMEONE ON THE TRAIN. INSTEAD OF LOOKING THROUGHOUT THE INDUSTRY I PREFER TO HYBERNATE ON WHAT I WANT TO DESIGN, WHAT I WANT TO PRODUCE, WHAT I WANT TO WEAR VS. BEING SUBCONSCIOUSLY BOMBARDED BY WHAT I “SHOULD” BE MAKING.


AFTER MY CONCEPT IS DEFINED, THEN MY PROCESS IS USUALLY THE SAME AND VERY MUCH ANALYTICAL. I PULL IMAGES AND FABRICS, THEN FILTER THEM OUT. NEXT, I BEGIN SKETCHING BODIES. I PERSONALLY PREFER TO KEEP MY BODIES  AND FABRIC SEPARATE. I DO NOT WANT TO BE MARRIED TO USING A CERTAIN FABRIC FOR A CERTAIN DESIGN. I WANT TO KEEP A ROLLING CREATIVE CONCEPT THROUGHOUT EACH COLLECTION.


MY NEXT COLLECTION’S INSPIRATION IS COMING FROM A ROMANTICIZED, FEMININE PLACE. INSTEAD OF ANDROGYNOUS, THINK “A POWERFUL FEMININITY”. I AM ESPECIALLY DRAWN TOWARD MEDITERRANEAN AND GREECEAN SHAPES.
I AM GOING TO USE ALL OF THE FABRICS AND TRIMS I CURRENTLY HAVE ON-HAND, IN THE STUDIO, AND REPURPOSE THEM! THE NEW COLLECTION WILL BE MADE ENTIRELY OUT OF FABRICS FROM PAST COLLECTIONS.
IN THE MEAN TIME, I WILL ALSO BE COLLABORTING WITH A DEAR FRIEND ON CREATING HOME GOODS PIECES! GET EXCTIED FOR A HOMEWARES POP-UP SOON!








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