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It's Leah writing the blog this week and we've got updates for you! Diane and I thought you would like to know what's going on at this end of things.
We are operating at full steam ahead here; Diane has plenty in the works with the spring and summer styles all planned and the factories are working hard to deliver. However, you may have noticed that our new styles are arriving a little slower than usual. We thought it was a good time to tell you why.
As a small business that creates, designs, sews, and manufactures; all locally with fabric that is made in Canada; we are experiencing longer delays than usual. The factory that makes our bamboo fabric has raised their minimum orders and lengthened their production times. As a Canadian business relying completely on local support systems to operate ethically, it is taking longer to accomplish what is 'normal' here. Since the factories are not running at full capacity with less staff, there is a slightly longer wait time for the delivery of garments.
Many of you are waiting for a restock of our capri's in plus sizes, so we've added the option to pre-order the new arrivals in styles that are coming soon. We have beautiful new designs arriving as frequently as possible at this time.
Meanwhile we've been out on location in among the flowers taking pics of the new styles. Often these outings include entertaining the inquisitive and friendly people who stroll on by and start a conversation with us. They will smile, comment, and often compliment our outfits and ask where they can get them. I'll introduce Diane (because she is humble) and their faces light up when we say that you're looking at the designer herself and this is fashion made locally in Canada. They'll ask for the website so they can see more. One man who spotted us asked, "Is this photo for Miss May?". How sweet.
You'll have lots to get excited about this season!
Isn't it always fun to have a look behind the scenes, into places no one usually gets to see? I thought you might enjoy an unedited glimpse into what’s actually happening in my design room right now. I almost feel like I'm divulging my deepest secrets here!
First off, I have especially chosen some lovely new Cami colours... to match the prints that will be coming out in our newest coat dress / jacket, which I'm calling "Joy"! While you might be used to seeing solid coloured fabrics in Diane Kennedy, I'm thrilled to combine my passion for beautiful printed cottons from my Cherry Velvet Dress line into DK now as well. The colours and prints are so cheerful, they always bring a smile to my face.
Here’s a look at the limited edition prints that will be released in my new "Joy" design. These jackets will coordinate beautifully with all your favourite Diane Kennedy layering pieces, like the Perfect Tee or the Clever Cami.
Some time ago, a customer requested a jogging suit. I gave this idea some thought, and came up with a shorter zip jacket that could be worn casually, but stylish enough to be worn more dressed up as well this coming season. Look forward to our styling tips for this 'coming soon' item in upcoming posts!
And here is a little tease for you of a new tunic that I’m working on. What you see on this image is my design software, as it’s still in the creation phase, but I’m already excited for it! It’s going to have an asymmetrical neck and curved seams with extra 'wave' built into the the front panels.
I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into the exciting things happening right now in my studio. Stay tuned for lovely new spring items coming soon!
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!