KVaughn: Interview by Tony Ward
TW: When did you first realize you wanted to pursue fashion design?
KV: I never really pursued Fashion Design actually I had a manufacturer, I didn’t start sewing actually until my little sister Dorian bought me a sewing machine and I took a six week sewing class. I think I was always a designer. I always believed you can go to school to learn how to sew. Being a designer is so much more so I don’t know that I pursed being a fashion designer. I really didn’t know what that was I didn’t know that was a role. I always loved clothes I work selling clothes and shoes for 15 years before I launched my collection. Actually it was a customer who told me I was a Designer. I just didn’t know it I was doing styling at the time for my customers but a that time it wasn’t called styling it was just putting together a look head to toe but once I heard the word designer, I just wanted to wear something with my name on it. I didn’t start sewing until much later in my career when my always supportive sister Dorian bought me the sewing machine and said you will figure it out. She constantly pushes me to be better in life overall so I found a 6 week class and told my instructor I just wanted to learn how to sew a straight line. It was a great turn by making my own scarves we slashed labor cost. I still hand sew pieces that need couture touches but we have a manufacturer down the street so we good.
TW: What made making scarves your focus?
KW: Well I’ve always loved scarves so we started doing them just for personal use and everyone start asking how they could get one so we did a small collection actually the first collection was made out of upholstery fabric as time went on the scarf collection was outpacing the mens and women’s collection sales so we decided to make them the focus going forward.
TW: What makes the KVaughn brand unique?
KV: I think our whole approach to design. I think it’s what we don’t do that makes us unique we don’t do more than 3 of a kind. We select high quality fabrics and we don’t chase trends. Most of our interactions with our clients is one on one so there is a personal touch provided to each customer. Our scarves take on the personality of the wearer.
TW: How do you go about selecting fabric for each season?
KV: Good Question. I’m not sure there’s a good answer because it’s different inspiration each season the fabrics: wool, cashmere, mohair for winter, linen and silk for summer. It’s more than just the fabrics I pick. I tap into the mood of the season. Is it about the length short or long wide or narrow? I like to think about the man or woman – how would they want to wear it and then the fabric has a language all its own.
TW: What are KVaughn goals for 2024?
KV: Goals 2024? Well that’s a good one. I started my collection in March of 1994, so I’ve been blessed with almost 30 years in Design and I gave myself 6 months, so I’m always concerned about overstaying my welcome. I will always design, that’s in my DNA but what that looks like I really can’t say. I’m really enjoying The Creative Director position with Tony Ward Studio, and I’ve been getting offers to collaborate. As far as K.VAUGHN SCARVES I always ask myself do we have anything to say Fashion wise are your designs still relevant? Is there a market for my work I always reevaluate at the end of the year. I’ll keep you posted.
TW: Who were your earliest fashion influences?
KV: I’m reminded of a Biggie song where he was asked the same question. No one influenced me to get into fashion. It was always in me but I do remember me and my Best Friend Kevin Long. I was introduced to him when I was living in Boston and we would always talk style and Fashion I met him in 1986. I didn’t start my own line till 1994, but the talks we had definitely had an influence. He even flew down to help with my first collection after I got into design. You grab a little from everyone it’s like make a cake. Karl Lagerfeld had that uniform that look that was distinctive. Alexander McQueen, his shows were always dramatic. Isaac Mizrahi and the Documentary Unzipped revealed the hectic weeks before a Runway Show. Ralph Lauren who doesn’t sew a lick but has such a vision for Men, Women, and Home . There’s so many influences that have crossed my path. Oh I can’t forget meeting Andre Leon Talley.
TW: How did your upbringing impact your creativity?
KV: Unfortunately words like art and designer were never used in my household. I always was looking to get away and trying to see what was out there in a bigger world. I do remember as a kid I would look at the walls in our home and always thought something was missing. Now I know it was art, so I think my upbringing made me go in another direction. Now my place is filled with art on every wall.
TW: What is a typical KVaughn design day like?
KV: Well since I sell life insurance during the day my design process happens at night around 11pm. I’ll get in my studio lay out whatever fabrics I’m working with and turn on the Tv, no volume and have my music on blast. Latlely I’ve been working on making new mannequins for display use. It’s all about creating a comfort zone with no limits . Weekend trips mainly to New York to buy fabrics means a visit 20 fabrics stores in one day just to put a collection together and every fabric supplier you have to negotiate fabrics prices. It’s hectic but it’s the best part because I know no matter the reception to a particular collection I put in the work and selected every fabric so a Day in a Life is very interesting and quite fulfilling.
TW: Which current design house do you gain the most inspiration from?
KV: Inspiration houses: Channel particularly The Lagerfeld Era, Hermes For the Scarves, Ralph Lauren for the Scale and reach of the brand.