Kris Cole is a self-taught fashion designer, who didn’t go to school for the physical aspect of designing. She was one of DELUX’s Emerging 30 under 30 last year. She could eye some of her measurements just by her instinct and she doesn’t follow trends. Kris believes that fashion is how you express yourself and a preference of how you chose to look. She’s had a passion for it since she was in 3rd grade and now her passion has became her reality. DELUX got the chance to sit down with her to talk more about her upbringing, inspirations and where she see her brand going.
DELUX: How would you define fashion?
Kris Cole: I would define fashion just being surrounded by how someone carries themselves and express themselves and with what they see that matches. Fashion isn’t about trends and keeping up with other people. It’s about how you feel and a preference of how you like to look.
DELUX: Being a designer, I know it can be tough starting out and it take practice and patience to put together the right pieces. What got you into designing?
Kris Cole: I started designing in the third grade. My aunt had a needle pack in a bag ang gave it to me. With that, I started to sew school pictures to fabric, and I use to cut my mom’s shower curtains and bed sheets up and make them into stuff. In the 3rd and 4th grade, I was making pencil skirts and all sorts of stuff. As I got older, I started to figure out fabrics. I used to go to the library to get books, and practice whatever crafts I saw in those and from there, I got into the garments. I used to make clothes for my teachers in high school and I started my business at 19 with prom dresses. It’s been almost 6 years that I’ve been designing full time, outside of my regular job.
DELUX: Since starting your business, have you always had a niche for designing gown or do you try whatever idea someone gives you?
Kris Cole: I design everything for women. I don’t do menswear, but I design everything for women whether it’s gowns, swimsuits, weddings, birthday occasions, two-piece clubwear; I just specialize in all forms of womenswear.
DELUX: During the off season of prom, are you still as busy with making dresses or is prom season your busiest time?
Kris Cole: So, prom season is the busiest time but it’s also the time where I invest more into my craft because I’m always designing. When I’m out of prom season, I’m still designing all the time for personal orders like birthdays, special occasions, wedding and things like that.
DELUX: Have you ever thought about designing and making shoes?
Kris Cole: I haven’t thought about actually designing a shoe, but I am about to start a Kris Cole Edition shoe, so that’s coming soon.
DELUX: That’s dope! So, how do you stay current with fashions trends. I know you said fashion isn’t about trends and it’s about expressing yourself but how do you stay current with what’s going on?
Kris Cole: As for my personal preference, I don’t really care for trends but when it’s for my brand, I pay attention to what everyone is wearing, and I make my own twist to it. For instance, bell bottom pants that’s tight-fitted and flare out at the bottom, but the flare is never long enough at the bottom when you buy them at stores. It’s a hit or miss and it might hit your ankles. What I do in those situations is, I come out with a pair that’s perfect, they drag on the ground a little bit, and it flares just enough. So, I pay attention to the trends, but I always add my own twist to it to where you’re not going to see it in a boutique or at the mall.
DELUX: What is your favorite part about being a fashion designer?
Kris Cole: It’s seeing my clients happy in the outfits I made them. I’m happy to know that I made them feel good about wearing my clothing.
DELUX: What designers do you look up to?
Kris Cole: I love Tom Ford, Moschino, Balenciaga; I like the high-end designers. I have a couple locals that I like. But honestly, I don’t really keep in tune with a lot of that stuff. I’ll keep tabs on it, but I don’t really get into magazines and other designers work that much. I just go with the flow of my own work, but as far as social media, I look at boutiques and local stores. But as far as following set designers, I don’t really look to any for inspiration.
DELUX: Is there any entertainer or celebrity whose style that you love?
Kris Cole: The Kardashians, and Kanye West are my favorite. All the Kardashians are my favorite. I like the designers who design for them.
DELUX: Would you say that you have an advantage being a fashion designer here in St. Louis, since it is rare, or do you think you could do it anywhere and have an advantage?
Kris Brand: I think to a certain extent I do have an advantage here because like you said, it is rare and not a lot of designers out there; but because I have an advantage, I do want to go somewhere else for a second to get uncomfortable where it’s some competition. I don’t want to stay in St. Louis and say “Oh, I’m one of the main designers,” when I can go somewhere and kind of put more work in and work harder for my brand to put my name out.
DELUX: That make sense because if you stay here and get comfortable like “everyone knows who I am, versus if you go to Atlanta or LA, it’s going to put a little bit of fire under you to make you do something different and put the pressure under you. That’s different for someone to say because some people would want to take the easy route, but you want to get out of your comfort zone.
Kris Cole: Yep, absolutely!
DELUX: With this being the boutique era, has there been any boutiques that have reached to you to make clothes for them for just a few outfits to sell in their shop?
Kris Cole: Boutiques reach out to me all the time to get my clothing in their space or to make a couple outfits and I decline it every time. I decline it because I’ve always been a self-investment type of person and since I have my own space, those 5 outfits that I’m making for them could be 5 outfits on my rack. Those 5 outfits could be in my own space, made on my own time and I’m getting 100% of my own sales. So, although it could be a good opportunity, but when you think about profit, I’ll be losing more than gaining.
DELUX: Completely understandable. So, when you were younger, did you think you would be an entrepreneur designing clothes.
Kris Cole: Yes, I knew I would be a designer for sure. I knew I was going to make clothes, I knew I wanted to design. Everything I said I wanted to do, I’m doing it now. I literally spoke it into existence.
DELUX: What is your end goal?
Kris Cole: To have a manufacturing company so I won’t have to necessarily do everything by myself and by hand, I could just mainly run it business wise and then have a company sew the products and patterns for me.
DELUX: Since you self-taught yourself, this is the day in age where everyone is an entrepreneur, and some may not go to school. How did you teach yourself? Was there Google, or did you have that creative niche?
Kris Cole: I would say both. I was young, so YouTube wasn’t out, so I read a lot of library books and looked at stitches and I hand-sewed a lot. I was able to look at stitches and know what to do. I learned how to sew through reading a lot of books and understood that way, then as I got older, that’s when YouTube started becoming popular, so I was able to watch videos and learn from there. But I did go to school for Merchandising, which is the business did of fashion.
DELUX: What do you want people to know about you?
Kris Cole: Just some advice that I am self-taught, I didn’t wait for someone to teach me anything. I didn’t wait for a set opportunity, I just took a leap and told myself “I think I know how to do this, I’m going to wing it, I’m going to try it,” and I succeeded. So, if you have a gut feeling about something you want to do, just do it. The worse you can do is not do it, and not try it.
Make sure you check out Kris Cole work on her Instagram page @KrisColeTheBrand