I would like to introduce Kaia Canales, a talented clothing designer, who has designed for large companies such as Calvin Klein, Old Navy and for a boutique label Calypso, and her own line Fable and Lore just hit the stores for the first time.
Fable and Lore is an unique clothing line for children. Clothing that brings fairy tales for children. Each outfit comes with its own illustrated storybook telling a story of Fable or Lore and the clothing is interactive inviting child to play. Hidden pockets and color-changing embroidery brings magic to every day life.
Katja: I’m reading your bio here… I am so impressed with your designing experience! You graduated from design school in New York in 1999 and started working for Calvin Klein right after that?
Kaia: Yes, I did. Calvin Klein recruited me straight out of college. I designed the infant and toddler’s collections for its jeans-wear division for a year.
Katja: And then you left Calvin Klein to go back on studying, this time in France. How did it feel to leave a big design house behind you?
Kaia: One of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made was to leave Calvin Klein. I felt like I risked the separation and possibly giving up a career with a mainstream design house to go to France. I was one of eleven young designers selected for the premiere “Cycle International de Creation de Mode”, under scholarship from the French Ministry of Fashion at Institut Francais de la Mode, in Paris. It was international Fashion Design Post-Graduate Masters Program. It was their first year and I am very grateful to have been part of the implementation of that program. There was a great deal of freedom for me to design and I focused on threads for kids.
Katja: Is that when you had your vision of Fable and Lore?
Kaia: I think the idea of my own line has been with me for years. Hiding out in the woods just waiting for the right time, but after returning from France, I was looking for an experince with a large manufacturer and was snapped by Old Navy. They certainly taught me all aspects of popular design. My charge was the Baby Girl Collection and I dedicated three and half years for that.
Katja: How did you feel about seeing your designs in use?
Kaia: I loved being able to walk down the street and see lots of kids at play while wearing my designs – I don’t know anybody who doesn’t own something Old Navy!
Katja: Why did you leave Old Navy?
Kaia: After I started working for Old Navy, I realized that as much as I loved seeing kids dressed in my clothes that I wanted more out of my designs. I wanted to dress children and capture their imagination. I was ready take on more and Christiane Celle at Calypso offered me an opportunity to design the Calypso / Christiane Celle Enfant collection for children. I was drawn to working with luxury fabrics. You know – cashmere, silk, linen. They’re fabrics you would want to wrap yourself up in.
Katja: How is designing boutique clothing different from designing mass apparel?
Kaia: Boutique design companies are incredibly different from large-scale producers. At Calypso I felt like I practically followed each ruffle dress and paneled skirt from seed to season. I got immense satisfaction watching kids explore the texture made of luxury fabrics like silks or cashmere. I loved how children liked the very bohemian chic styles with vivid color palate. At large companies like Gap and Calvin Klein, I was expected to design for mass appeal. With Calypso, my illustrations became more personal even as I tried to maintain their trademark style. I found that even when you design a line for somebody else, and you may be following the current trends or maintaining a company-style but somehow your own personality always shines through.
Katja: Your outgoing personality really shines through in Fable and Lore lines. Tell us more about Fable and Lore.
Kaia: Fable and Lore are separate lines for boys and girls. Think of it as dressing your and your child’s imagination. My clothing has been called everything from “pants with plot” to “shirts with a story.” But it’s more than just slacks and stories, even though every piece comes with a storybook.
Fable and Lore are meant to inspire play. I think parents already know about the power of apparel. A suit can make you feel strong, and a dress can make you feel sophisticated. Clothes can have the same effect on kids. When you’re wearing Fable and Lore, you can go outside and watch the colors change in the clothing or you can hunt for a small treasure to slip into a secret pocket. You aren’t just pretending to be a princess, a knight or a wizard. You’ve become one.
Katja: Where did the names “Fable” and “Lore” come from?
Kaia: Well, the idea came to me while I was up in the Catskill Mountains one summer. My family has a little cabin up there … it’s a place that’s inspiring and a little enchanting, too.
Katja: What is the best of Fable and Lore for you?
Kaia: I’ve always sought the creative freedom associated with having my own line. I like using textures like embroidery and crochet in my designs and I love to try out new things like color-changing inks. Other outfits just look good, but mine are a good time, too. Color-changing, shape-shifting, storybook apparel is only the beginning, I’m ready to play out the adventures of Fable and Lore with an eye to the future.
Katja: What’s the best of Fable and Lore for the children and parents?
Kaia: So many of my friends are looking for new ways to relate with their children. I hope parents will use these clothes and the stories as a way to connect with their children. Everything about Fable and Lore is interactive. You read the storybooks with your children. You touch the fabric. You watch it change color in the light. You find treasures for the hidden pockets. Children love the magic the clothing brings to their every day lives.
Katja: Thank you so much for taking time for this interveiw and thank you for bringing something totally new to the children’s clothing market!
Kaia: Thank you!
Fable and Lore clothing is available in finer children’s boutiques and online at Skimbaco.com