Lucky Brand Style Director Karin Cole on the Secret to Choosing Denim


Lucky Brand choosing denim new lead image

As Lucky Brand debuted their collection for Spring 2012, we had an opportunity to sit down with Karin Cole, the company’s new Style Director.  She filled us in on her role at Lucky, where she finds her inspiration, and her new-found devotion to super stretch denim.

Brightly-colored prints for women are a signature of Lucky Brand’s Spring 2012 collection.

The High Low:  What’s the most exciting part of being Lucky Brand’s Style Director?  What do you look forward to every day?

Karin Cole:  What’s amazing to me is it’s like putting a title to what I like to do every day.  I’m constantly looking for the next cool thing — everyone’s wondering what’s out there, what’s exciting, and what’s happening now.  I’ve been doing that for my whole career, and now I get to apply it for the Lucky customer.  I can give the brand a voice and bring it to life in a way our customers have not experienced before. I also get to work with really talented and passionate people at Lucky.

HL Where do you find your inspiration?

KC:  I’ve had a long career in fashion — I spent a lot of time in New York and now I’m back on the West Coast.  So sometimes I dig back into the archives of living the fashion life in New York City, but a lot of it now comes from my reality, with my kids.  My 13-year-old is a huge inspiration.  Just living on the West Coast — I think living that healthy lifestyle is an inspiration.

I find that if you are aware of what is around you and you listen to what speaks to you, you can be inspired by almost anything.

Lucky’s super stretch denim, first launched for Fall 2011, takes shape in bright capri form for Spring 2012.

HL:  What are your favorite pieces from the new collection?

KC:  The denim for fall is really great.  And as we look forward, I feel like all the things that came to life this season have been transformed for spring 2012.  There are capris in bright colors and wide leg denim trousers for women.  The super stretch fabric is really important.  It’s a dream.  I’ve always been a rigid denim fan until trying the super stretch, and I’ve completely converted.  So that’s pretty cool.

On top of that, there are lot more layering pieces in the spring season. One of my favorites is a beautiful dark navy leather jacket.  I’ve always loved the Lucky leather jackets.  There’s also something called the stitchy poncho, a beautiful loose-weave poncho, and the embroidered duster in navy and ivory.

And the peasant tops are amazing.   There are lots of prints and patterns — some bright and bold, right on trend for spring.  And others are more solid with very simple embroidered patterns inspired by far away places or vintage finds.

Some of my favorites in the men’s collection are the knit tees with the baseball sleeves.  There are also great plaid popovers [a button-down in which the buttons go only to the navel] which have been treated as if they’ve been out in the sun, so the shoulders are very faded and the color gets brighter below.  They’re super California.  And the designers added some color to the men’s denim collection…a washed down olive, khaki and faded red, all very wearable and relevant this season.

A few denim options for men from Lucky’s Spring 2012 line.

HL:  So when it comes to the denim, you prefer stretch?

KC:  Oh my gosh, I was completely a stiff denim fan, but I put on a pair of Charlie flares and now they’re my favorite.  They’re amazing.

HL:  Would you recommend stretch for certain body types?

KC:  Lucky’s done an amazing job of offering many different styles to fit many different body types.  Some have a lower rise, some have a higher rise, some come up higher in the back, and there are many different leg openings.  And it’s all in the super stretch and regular denim, so I wouldn’t say one denim is better than another — it’s more about the fit.

HL:  Can you tell us a little bit more about developing denim fits, and if there are any pitfalls to avoid?  How do you choose the perfect jeans?

KC:  I can’t really speak to the design, the designers are so good at what they do.  I can speak more to choosing denim.  I think for women it’s such a hard thing.  The magazines tell you “this is in” or “try this,” but you just have to listen to your inner voice, and pick something that you feel comfortable in.  Get a second opinion from a friend you trust, and just go with it.  The bottom line is that if you’re not confident in what you’re wearing, it’s going to show.  Honestly, if I put on something that I think is supposed to be cool and hip and stylish, but I’m not comfortable in it, I just want to take it off.  Women know what they feel good in, why not stick with it!

A pair of Lucky Brand jeans display the line’s unique detailing.

HL:  Who do you feel is the Lucky Brand woman?

KC:  The Lucky woman is an individual.  She might be a little bit bohemian, she might be a little bit artsy, she might be a little bit rock and roll.  She has a creative personality, and I feel she’s drawn to Lucky because there are details on the product that are unique — patterns, embroidery, and embellishment that have a cool vibe.  You can be yourself in our clothing, and your personal style shines through.

HL:  Can you tell us about the New Movement in Denim campaign? What excites you about it?

KC:  We shot the fall collection (which was the launch of the super stretch denim) with Carter Smith in New York, and it has been a huge success.  The catalog, which is out now, and the magazine ads really focus on the denim.  The tops and fashion pieces are secondary; we really tried to talk a lot about the new stretch.  And the stores are selling lots of denim.  It’s been great for the company.

HL:  When you’re showing the new looks to editors, how do you prep for the preview?

KC:  It’s a team effort — the PR teams and Visual Merchandising teams work together to make sure all the samples are here and the showroom looks great.  I spend time with the designers back in California to get their point of view on the inspiration for the line and their favorite pieces.  Then we combine all those thoughts and ideas into a presentation for the editors.

A bohemian, fringed suede bag from Lucky Brand.

HL:  Speaking of California, Lucky Brand has a very West Coast vibe.  How do you feel that translates for, say, your New York or New England customers?

KC:  There’s an effortless cool about California living, especially in Southern California.  We want that to be conveyed in our collections.  I’m hoping that through these efforts as Style Director, whether they’re online, a blurb in the catalog, or on Facebook or a blog, I can help educate the customer on Lucky Brand.

There are so many inherently cool things about the company, like amazing archives of graphics and patterns and amazing talent in the corporate office…I hope to share some of these things with our Lucky fans no matter where they live!