Toronto native Kaelen Haworth is the designer behind polished womenswear line Kaelen. The now New York-based designer and Parsons alum held positions at MTV, Jenni Kayne, and Stella McCartney before launching her namesake line in 2010. Seven months following her graduation from Parsons, the designer showed her very first collection at New York Fashion Week. Haworth’s collections are characterized by clean lines and a sophisticated, classic style that maintain a sense of individuality.
Your mother inspired your career in design. How does she influence your collections now?
Now it feels as though the roles are reversed, which is nice for me. I used to go with my mom and grandmother to The Room in Toronto to shop for dresses that were more vent focused. The way we dress has evolved so much and relaxed so much since then, that I am the one doing the influencing. But I always think about the kind of clothing my mom wears because the line should be approachable to a broader demographic. She’s an exceptionally stylish woman and I want her and women like her to feel great in the clothes.
What did you learn from working at Stella McCartney? Do you have an eco-conscious approach to design as well?
I loved working at Stella McCartney because the atmosphere was so positive and encouraging. I admire her dedication to her beliefs and how prevalent it is through all aspects of the company. I am aware of the environmental impact of creating a collection, and wherever possible, I do my best to minimize that effect. It is difficult being a small business because it can sometimes be more expensive and less accessible to choose the more eco-friendly option, but this is something I think is changing and hope will continue to do so in the near future.
Who was the first buyer/boutique to purchase your collection?
Intermix was the first boutique to buy the collection, which was so exciting for me. I always loved shopping at Intermix so it was a great validation to be in the store myself.
Hailing from Toronto, how involved are you with the Canadian fashion community?
I started my business in New York and have focused mainly on that arena because it felt natural to me. I am not as familiar with the Canadian fashion community as I’d like to be, but my future plans include expanding more into other markets and obviously Canada is very close to my heart, so it’s a great place to focus my energy!
Solange Knowles was recently photographed in your SS13 collection. How does it feel seeing celebrities wear your clothes?
I am a huge fan of Solange, so having her wear the clothes was really amazing. It’s really cool when people you admire pay attention to what you are doing. Mindy Kaling recently wore a dress from the Spring 2013 collection, which was amazing. She looked great and I have a huge lady crush on her so I was excited!
You did a lot of abstract prints for your Fall 13 collection. Do you create your own prints?
Yes, we create all of the prints we use. My stylist, Eva Zuckerman, is also an artist and has created paintings that we translate in past seasons. But I think prints are really emotional and usually get the most reaction from people, so I like to feel that connection.
Do you work with a stylist for your shows? How involved are they in the design process
I do. I work with Eva Zuckerman, and we have been working together since the very first season. Eva and I will meet several times during the course of the design process. I update her and show her sketches, samples, fabric swatches etc., and she will give her feedback. It’s great to have that sounding board, and Eva is so good at capturing the mood I’m trying to create through the styling that I trust her opinion very much.
What would you do if you weren’t a designer?
I would like to be involved in music somehow…I’m not exactly sure in what realm, but it’s my other passion. I also love to read and was not half bad at writing in University, so maybe there’d be a career in there somewhere!