Designer Confidential

Published Nov 12 2020 in #dianekennedy, #ethicalfashion, #madeincanada, #sustainablefashion, #Vancouverdesigner

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.

Canadian designer Diane Kennedy proudly holds a red maple leaf

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!