Thanks for sending in your questions! Diane opens up about what she's doing next, her design process and your most wanted new items.
I always appreciate when you take the time to give me feedback. By sending in your wishes and comments, it make us better able to fill your needs. Your opinions are of utmost importance to me.
I love your designs but don’t like the 3/4 sleeves. Montreal and areas have colder weather for one thing. Are you planning on designing longer sleeves in your next collection?
I was planning on making several long sleeve styles for this fall but covid delayed my shipment of fabric and I've had to cancel many of the styles I'd planned. More tops and tunics are coming though and at least one with long sleeves will be coming in the new year.
Have you thought of making walking shorts? Pull on, soft, elastic waisted ones?
Yes, that's something I've been thinking about, it's an item I'll include for spring 2021 to match up with the athleisure/active jacket that is coming. You can plan to have comfortable walking shorts.
What about pajamas?
As several of you have requested it, I'll certainly give this some consideration. One of my concerns is cost. Essentially a pajama outfit takes the same amount of fabric as a pair of pants and a tunic, and as such the cost would be similar. Would you be open to a loungewear/pajama set that costs $275 or more?
Where do you find all your fun fabrics?
Haha, where my fabrics come from is a trade secret, but I can tell you that my beautiful bamboo comes from a mill in Montreal. The printed cottons I've starting using for DK come from the same suppliers I use for my other brand Cherry Velvet.
What decisions/compromises must you consider when designing and manufacturing a garment, e.g. style, fabric, colours, environmental impact?
I always consider how best to make use of the fabric with each pattern so as not to be wasteful, this makes sense from both an environmental standpoint as well as an economic one. I will often make a test layout of the pattern pieces to see how well the design utilizes the fabric. For example, I'd love to make more designs with raglan and dolman style sleeves but both waste a lot more fabric than a traditionally cut sleeve.
Because I have to order my Canadian made fabric in customized dye lots, I do have to consider which colours will be good sellers. This commitment to a certain amount of a single colour makes it important to pick the colours that you want to wear. Trendy and more fringe (less popular) colours don't usually make the cut because of the high quantities required by my factories.
What/who are your primary markets for Diane Kennedy clothing. How do these lines evolve and keep their appeal over time?
The primary markets for my clothing are women over 50 with curves who appreciate comfortable, quality, garments made from natural fabrics. The vibe is easy care lifestyle clothing that fits well.
For my lines to evolve and to keep their appeal over time I have directed my energy to asking our current customers what they want to wear next. Your feedback helps me know what you need now, so I can design the best styles for you and we hit the mark each season. The plan is to introduce the new must-haves and keep the classic core items that have become mainstays.
How far in advance do you plan?
I work up to a year in advance, new items are designed and colours are chosen and lab dipped for approval. However this year has brought huge changes. Longer lead times for fabrics, and cancellations, as covid has interrupted the supply chain. Also with more people working from home, needs have changed and as a small designer I'm in a good position to adjust and make changes on a much shorter timeline than a large manufacturer.
Who are your favourite three clothing designers in the 20th and 21st centuries? Why?
My favourite designers bring feminine, curvy, possibilities of fashion.
1. Zac Posen for his feminine, architectural details with pleating, shaping and tailoring. He nails the Oscar worthy ball gowns.
2. Vintage Christian Dior, specifically his New Look; circa 1950. He understands the curvaceous form, hourglass silhouettes and beautiful couture hand details.
3. Donna Karan when she was designing her own collection pre-2015. Her elegant draping, modern shapes and innovation make her an all time favourite of mine.
How do you encourage/support your creative spirit during this pandemic?
The pandemic has impacted my social life far more than my creativity. If anything, this slower pace has encouraged more time to be creative. I have new designs and prints already planned into next summer. Other than slowing down a bit mostly due to delays with the fabric supply, my creative drive is really strong. I truly love my job and so it's not like work to me. I love to look through fabrics and plan what's coming next.
How do you measure for the varying sizes when making clothing? (Some companies are so off)
When I make a pattern for the first time I start with a block which is the technical term for a base pattern. By reusing the same base pattern each time it allows for more continuity of fit. In the final result there will be some variation in the fit between styles, but that does allow for the variation that happens naturally between women's bodies. There are other natural variations that occur with fit, for example if the fabric changes, the fit can also change. After the pattern is finalized the grading rules are applied to create the other sizes. This means the pattern grows and shrinks from one size to another by the same amount no matter the design.
Thanks again for sending in your questions!
We're always happy to hear your opinions, suggestions and feedback. Feel free to send in your comments anytime!
`If you came over to my place to hang out during the fall I would offer you a warm cup of homemade Chai Tea. We would sit by the fireplace, listen to the rain pouring outside, catch up and nibble on banana bread too.
I made this tea for us at work and Diane loved it. While the tea brews the entire space smells heavenly with the spices in the air. This stimulating tea is great to awaken your system. I want to share the recipe with you here so you can enjoy it with a friend.
The bonus is these ingredients boost your immune system; are high in antioxidants, great for digestion, supportive of your metabolism, and are anti-inflammatory as well as delicious.
Leah's Spicy Chai Tea Recipe:
Makes 4 litres
1 large fresh Ginger Root (sliced thinly)
1 Tbsp Black Peppercorns
1 Tbsp Cloves Whole
1 Tbsp Cardamom Seeds
3 Cinnamon Sticks
1 Tbsp of Black Tea or 4 tea bags
4 litres or 1 Gallon of cold, fresh water
Bring water to a boil and add each ingredient with exception of the black tea.
Once boiling, reduce to simmer for 45 minutes.
Lastly, add the black tea bags to brew for 3 minutes or longer if you like strong tea.
Strain the entire mixture through a mesh strainer.
Sweeten to taste with honey and add your choice of milk as desired.
Once cooled you can store in the fridge and heat up as needed.
The spicy fragrance of exotic spices is uplifting, soothing and calming. I hope you enjoy the warming kick.
It's Leah writing the blog this week, and I want to share with you why Diane's pants are the best pants you'll ever wear.
Did you know that Diane Kennedy's pants are the most reordered item we sell? Ladies buy two at a time and stores consistently restock the pants because their customers can't get enough. Recently Diane re-imagined her best selling Flex pant into a new version that includes pockets called the Spirit Pant, available in Regular, Plus and Petite sizes. Honestly, they fly off the shelves and it made me want to share a story with you about the importance of great fitting pants.
Last week, a friend of mine splurged on a new pair of pants for work (not DK) and was complaining about how disappointed she was with the fit. After showing me what she was wearing (name brand label) we had a quick chat about the difference between pants made in Canada by a designer who ensures quality by overseeing production and imported mass manufactured garments. She was feeling ripped off and a little confused and appreciated the feedback so she won't be wasting her money in future.
I explained that the bottom line (pun intended) is what matters to these big labels and that means cutting costs wherever possible. Alternatively, the results are completely different when you buy a garment that has been meticulously tailored, measured and crafted with quality fabrics.
How does this affect you?
Diane's pants and leggings are made for your comfort. She is designing for curves and knows that our bodies have width, but also depth. If you turn sideways in a mirror you can see the curves that a garment must maneuver. Diane understands these proportions.
Here is an example to show how different the average legging pattern (right) is compared with legging pattern (left) made by Diane. The average pattern is flat and made for a one dimensional result which will not work. Women are not flat.
To compare; Diane chooses to design with fabrics that are ethically made in Canada. You are wearing healthy, soft, breathable bamboo which moves with you. Waistbands are wide and contoured to always give you a smooth fit with no muffin top. Each garment is locally produced in Canada with love. Our customers claim this bamboo makes their legs feel energized and heavenly.
You want all day comfort with movement, stretch with memory, breathable fabric and quality that lasts. This is why these are the most comfortable leggings and pants you will ever wear: Find your favourite pant or legging on our website now in sizes S-3X and we are sure you'll agree that these are the best pants you'll ever wear.
We look forward to hearing your opinions on the fit, fabric and your experiences.
Inspiring fabrics are a source of immense joy to me. Fabrics bring life to the patterns I design and each is chosen especially for the feeling and drape; they are an essential part of my process from concept to completion. Lately, I’ve been inspired by the work of Kaffe Fassett and I think you’ll be as enchanted with his original designs as I am.
Kaffe is an internationally renown textile designer. As a skilled fine artist in his teens he won a scholarship to The Boston Museum of Fine Arts School. A move to England led him to discover a new passion: knitting and designing knitwear. Kaffe’s brilliantly colourful work in needlepoint, patchwork, and knitwear has appeared in the pages of Vogue and on famous figures like Barbra Streisand and Lauren Bacall. He has collaborated with top brands such as Coach and Missoni, participated in various exhibitions and solo shows, published a multitude of books and patterns, and won numerous awards. In short, Kaffe is considered a guru in the world of colour and textiles.
Flowers play a prominent role in Kaffe’s designs. His “Antique Chrysanthemum” print is explosively beautiful, and will be available as a limited edition Rhapsody Coat soon.
Kaffe’s love of florals and colour has come full circle – a rose has been named after him by one of the most prestigious rose producers in the world. It is a floribunda rose in shades of vivid hot pink and hints of deep lilac, with a wonderful fragrance.
Kaffe might now be best known for his stunning array of 100% cotton fabrics. These kaleidoscopic images showcase Kaffe’s love of colour play and juxtaposition with the pinwheels and mandalas seeming to spin through space while maintaining a relationship through pattern and scale. The larger sizes of his botanical prints reveal masterful details that are usually overlooked.
We look forward to sharing these creations with you. (coming soon!) We hope that knowing more about Kaffe will make wearing these items that much more special for you. Fabrics can take your clothing beyond being an average garment to becoming an artistic creation of sublime enjoyment for years to come.
Diane Kennedy customers will recognize Leah Tuttle from our website and social media – she certainly features prominently. What you may not know is that Leah is our sales agent and has been for nearly 12 years. She knows the DK brand inside and out, so she was the perfect choice to join the team as our new Marketing Manager. We wanted to give you a closer look at this beautiful, accomplished woman, and tell you about the origins of her endless enthusiasm for this industry.
A passion for fashion set the course for Leah’s career. She’s worked with designers, artists, retailers, and wholesalers, as a buyer, as a stylist, and as a personal dresser. Every day, she finds new delight in seeing the clothes she gets to work with.
Leah is a multitalented woman. Sales and marketing are her forte, but she's also a chef, and cultivates organic botanicals for her own skincare line; www.wildcraftorganics.ca.
Leah grows her own herbal teas which we are currently enjoying here at the office. "Tranquility Tea" is how we stay balanced and calm throughout the day. The main ingredients are lemon balm, heirloom peppermint, chamomile, lemongrass, calendula and the legendary soothing blossoms of restorative French lavender.
Now that Leah has joined the Diane Kennedy team, she’s been discovering more and more similarities with Diane, our designer. Aside from red hair and green eyes, and their passion for fashion and cosmetics, both ladies have a love of organic gardening.
Diane and Leah have similar tastes in movies and books, and appropriately enough for the Halloween season, they’re both currently reading The Witching Hour trilogy; horror classics by Anne Rice. Around the office, you’ll often hear one or the other exclaiming to each other, “Oh, yeah – me, too!" With this much in common, it’s clear that theirs is a friendship for the ages, 12 years and counting.