As the designer – and let's be honest, as the number-one customer of my products – I am very invested in the fit, quality, and feel of the fabrics used for each and every Diane Kennedy garment. Much like a brewer crafting a specialty beer, or a chef creating a gourmet meal, I take a very hands-on approach to the entire design process. This post is the first in a series to explain the steps and processes that take a garment from conception to customer.
Colour is a huge motivator for me, and it is certainly one of the first things I look for when choosing a fabric. My thought process often starts with the colours I want to wear and what looks good on me. Choosing fabrics and colours is definitely one of my favourite parts of my job. I love to use natural fabrics like bamboo as much as possible because I’m a big fan of how these fabrics feel on my body.
When making choices, I have three primary considerations: quality, feel, and origin. As you might know, approximately 85% of the fabric we use is manufactured in Canada. When I compare Canadian-made to what is made elsewhere, there's a very big difference. While we do choose a small percentage of offshore fabrics, we pay attention to a manufacturer’s ethics, and our decisions are also based on whether the fabrics are organic.
After choosing a collection of fabrics and roughing out my ideas, I frequently design my garments while making patterns. Unlike many designers who complete full sketches of new designs, many Diane Kennedy styles coalesce during the pattern-making process. I see the flow of the seam lines and look at how the shapes work together, and these elements play an important role in determining the finished design. The design and pattern often morph intuitively as I work.
Whether I make the pattern myself, or give it to my assistant, we always create both a plus-size and regular-size test garment before going into final production; therefore, we create two patterns for each style. My design assistant sews prototypes of the garment, and they’re fitted on a body of each size. Adjustments are made, allowing us to achieve a final pattern.
After the colors, patterns, and designs are chosen, a local factory produces a sample of the garment. Our sales agents use these samples to sell Diane Kennedy designs to retailers across North America.
Now that you’ve had a glimpse into the creative process, above is a sneak peek of the spring designs and fabrics we’re preparing for you.
My wonderful customers. If it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t be here. I know that’s a bit of a cliché but it’s the honest truth. I'm one truly blessed person. I'm so thankful to be living my dream; to be a designer and make fantastic clothes for women of all sizes. Being able to do it in an eco-friendly, sustainable and truly Canadian way makes it even more special.
A successful woman does not get to stay in business as long as I have without the help and support of many others. I'm grateful for my support team and renewing old friendships. Sometimes those two things go hand in hand. A recent photo shoot in Olympic Village with a couple of models we began working with again was such a lovely reminder of our past projects and the many laughs we’ve had together. Scarlett Ballantyne and Viola Evans are so great to work with and just beautiful women inside and out.
Also, this year will mark 10 years that I have been working with my Canadian Agent Leah Tuttle. She's a remarkable woman who really understands our market and is responsible for getting my clothing in stores all across Canada. We'll be doing a blog about Leah in the near future. She really is an inspiration and I'm thankful to have her as part of the Diane Kennedy team
This year brought Barb Wilkins back into our fold as our Shipping/Customer Service specialist. We've known each other for many years and are happy to be working together again, along with the rest of my team. Tatyana Bardas our Pattern Maker and Design Assistant and, of course, Logan Rudrum our Media Director. I'm thankful for this dedicated team of lovely and hard working people.
Thanksgiving is important. Giving thanks and feeling gratitude for what you have is a simple concept, and yet we often forget to really feel grateful. Whatever you do to celebrate this time of year, may it bring you happiness and contentment.