What better place to head off on a road-trip with a music-obsessed fashion designer than Texas and Louisiana? That’s exactly what Convicts did this summer when we hit the road with New York-based Canadian Kaelen Haworth, whose namesake label, KAELEN, is an insider favorite- Elizabeth Banks recently wore a metallic jumpsuit from her fall collection on the red carpet. We caught up with Kaelen to find out how she feels about camping now, how our trip helped inspire her work and life in New York.
We joined you on a road-trip over summer through Texas and Louisiana. Did it plant any seeds of inspiration for you?
Yes you did and yes it did! It had a different effect on me than I thought it would. I was expecting a riot of colors, lots of vibrant energy… and we did find that, but I was surprised at how calm and serene everything was.
What are some of your standout memories from the trip?
The landscape was definitely a highlight. I loved the stretches of road between Austin and Marfa. And actually on the leg from Marfa to Dallas we saw a lot of abandoned gas stations in the middle of nowhere that were creepy but also really beautiful. The music in New Orleans was a highlight – in the streets and also the live music spots. Our visit to the cemetery was a highlight for me as well. It was really incredible. Sleeping in tents in Marfa was a highlight once I got over my fear of snakes/bugs/elements etc.
How important is it for you to get out of the city? Does it influence your creative process?
I’m Canadian, so I grew up just close enough to wilderness to take it for granted. Now, in my old age I realize how important it is to me. This past summer we spent time upstate which was such a lifesaver for me. I need to be out of the city to refresh. Even just to remind myself why I love living in such an insane place. It definitely helps with the creative process. Just opening up a little space in your mind to allow for a different thought process is so helpful.
You grew up in Toronto and moved here to study at Parsons before launching your label. Did it take a little while to settle into living in New York? What did you find difficult at first?
What do you love about the city?
I love that you can be completely anonymous, but you can also walk around your neighborhood and say Hi to familiar faces and people you recognize the same way you would in a small town. I love that I have my coffee shop, my weeknight dinner date spot, my hardware store, my pet store, and my book store all within a few blocks of me. I love how accessible everything is. It’s a very efficient city if you know your way around.
How would you describe your label? What have your career highlights been so far?
I would describe it as evolving! I resisted the idea of my label growing and changing with me as we move through each season but I think that’s what makes it special. I think the most important thing about the collection is that it is personal and thoughtful, and if consumers can see that, then I feel like I’m achieving something. I am not looking to build a volume business. I want it to always feel thoughtful, no matter how big we might be able to grow it. I really think the biggest career highlight is seeing a girl on the street who looks insanely cool and is wearing something of mine. Bonus if we’re not friends! Seriously though – it’s so great when you see someone wearing something that looks exactly as you’d envisioned it looking, on the girl you’d envisioned wearing it during the design process. Seeing the clothing on celebrities is cool, but seeing it on the streets is really rewarding.
Do you see yourself in New York long term?
I think so – it’s hard to say. Things change quickly and I am so resistant to the where do you see yourself in x amount of years type of question. I will say at this point in my career/life, I can’t imagine living anywhere else. So that’s the answer I guess.