Exclusive: Kage debuts Resort 2019 collection
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Since launching Kage in 2009, Basma Abu Ghazaleh has continued to deliver cohesive, cool collections to the women of the region. Known for its laidback elegance, the brand excels in presenting capsule wardrobe edits of dresses, jumpsuits, tops, shorts, trousers and kaftans that are made for women on the go; throw on one of the brand's pieces and you're ready for anything.
Now, Basma is expanding her creative energy, channeling it into the brand's debut Resort 2019 collection. An extension of Kage's upcoming S/S '19 collection, and yet still telling its own story, the Resort line-up features pieces made with linen for the first time, as well as Cruise-inspired updates on key silhouettes.
Buro 24/7 Middle East's Managing Editor Maddison Glendinning got the exclusive lowdown on the collection from Basma, as well as the very first peak at the lookbook (which you can see below)...
Tell me a little how this first Resort collection came to life...
We show at Paris twice a year, Fall and Spring/Summer, and we had a lot of consultants basically move us into the direction of designing Resort. I think there are higher budgets for it and I really wanted to move in that direction. But also, it's kind of an easy, contemporary collection that's very wearable and easy, and that's what Kage is.
What was the inspiration behind Resort?
For Resort, and for Spring/Summer alike, I was inspired by the summer elements in general and I split the story in half. So Resort, the colour-blocking that you see is more of the red and the blues. The red and the pinks symbolise flowers and the beauty in summer and the blues represents the water and the sky to an extent. For Spring/Summer you will see that it's all about nature. It's all green and neutrals. So together, it's one collection. The collection is a very easy collection and it's very wearable and I feel a lot of people of different ages can wear it. We have kaftans that do really well in the region but we wanted to make sure that the kaftans have a Western aesthetic, so it can appeal to a Middle Eastern woman but it can also appeal to a Western woman. Then we have a lot of the linens. We have never used linen before. I love it. Also a lot of the pieces are double-lined. We pay attention to finishing, and that's a really strong point that we never lose sight of.
Walk us through the spirit of the collection and how you designed the pieces...
A lot of the things can be mixed and matched throughout the collection. For instance, there's one piece that for the modest woman, she can wear as a shirt dress but for someone that's more modern, she can open it and it looks like a cool outfit on it's own. What's nice about the whole collection is that you can dress it up and dress it down.
At the same time, I like to make sure that with every collection we do, it's kind of like your own little wardrobe. If you wanted to go out at night, you can wear our one off-shoulder dress, but if you wanted to wear something on top, or you're cold, you can put a jacket on top and kind of mix and match together. But you can also find something that you can wear to the office, like a blazer with pants. I wanted to create something for everyone in this collection.
I feel like that's quite typical for Kage regardless...
Yeah. And if you look through everything, you can see that even our cotton jumpsuits are double-lined. That's something that we don't compromise on.
That's great as I feel like that's not always the case with Resort collections...
That's it! That's why for the kaftan I facilitated it so that you don't really need to wear something under [as there is a longer lining]. So it's a little more costly on our part but at the same time, the consumer is going to find it easier and it's more wearable.
I kid you not, all of these fabrics were my summer fabrics because I had pre-planned summer, way earlier. Thank goodness I did otherwise I wouldn't have been able to start Resort. Once you have your fabrics, and the inspiration, you just need to execute. And so, I came back and within four weeks, I had done it.
Why did you decide to launch Resort now? You said you had customers and buyers interested...
To be honest, budgets are much higher for Resort. Number two, it stays on shelves a lot longer and it goes on sale at the same time Spring/Summer goes on sale, but it's merchandised two months before. So you have two extra months of selling.
Also, I realised that when I went and showed it in Paris, that all of the buyers were much more open to looking at smaller upcoming brands that they believe in for Resort. When we were in Paris, I had so many really big online retailers come up and see the brand because they wanted to start to keep an eye on it because not every single brand does a Resort collection.
It's quite rare here.
Exactly. I think it was a really good decision. It makes sense for the UAE especially and the region.
When did you decide you were going to do a Resort collection?
I'd been thinking about Resort and whilst I was thinking I got two emails: one from Moda Operandi saying, "Are you showing Resort?" and then right after, my clients from Harvey Nichols in Riyadh sends me an email saying, "Hey, are you showing resort?" Then I was in New York and I got an email from the showroom in Paris saying that we've decided to do Resort. Everyone has been saying we need to do Resort. All of this combined together made me want to do it. I kid you not, all of these fabrics were my summer fabrics because I had pre-planned summer, way earlier. Thank goodness I did otherwise I wouldn't have been able to start Resort. Once you have your fabrics, and the inspiration, you just need to execute. And so, I came back and within four weeks, I had done it.
Is this Resort collection a testing of the water or is it now a permanent offering from the brand?
No, I need to do it. I feel like once you start something in fashion, it's more of a statement. You can't step back. I take it very seriously.
Resort also makes sense from a retail perspective because if you can sell a product at full price for longer, and have people buy it, that makes total sense...
Of course! The only tricky thing for me is at Kage, when I design collections, everything is a story. Like when you see a rack, you see a story. I have many weaknesses but one of my strengths is that I design a story. I don't have separates where nothing goes with anything. Visual merchandising is so important for me. That's one of the things I feel confident in and that I can put it together.
If you can present a very clear vision of what the story is for that season and how to bring it together, I think that helps the customer, too...
I like that. That's part of my favourite process that I really enjoy. I feel like without that, I don't have that much creativity.
What do you want the Kage customer to get out of Resort?
I want them to be able to find something that they're looking for but most importantly, I want it to be wearable. It's a fresh, young collection, it's very easy to wear to be honest.
Who is your key customer for Kage?
We usually say that the customer is between the ages of 25 to 35. I don't even fit that anymore, I'm older than 35 but to be completely honest, I have people who are 50, that buy the brand.
You're based here currently but the fabrics are from Europe and you show during Paris. Would you consider moving the headquarters to Europe?
To be honest, at some point I considered being in between London and Dubai. I actually do travel to London a lot. I spend much more time here, don't get me wrong, but I do kind of go back and fourth so that helps. Unless I got a really big opportunity in the future and felt like Kage was heading towards that...it's a different topic to be discussed. For now, I feel like this is the time in the region where everyone is so fashion conscious and you have all of the brands. You know we were discussing how a lot of the brands are doing well and are home-grown. Then you have some of the biggest e-commerce retailers in the region now and I feel like, if there's a right time to be in Dubai, now is it.
you have some of the biggest e-commerce retailers in the region now and I feel like, if there's a right time to be in Dubai, now is it.
More and more, consumers here are looking to brands that everyone doesn't have as well. They are looking to discover brands that they can turn up as something different...
I was speaking to my friends about brands turning up and we were discussing how accessories brands are super strong, from Net-a-Porter to Bergdorf to Browns. There are so many brands today, so many that you don't even know what they are anymore. You can't follow all of them! And it's much easier to pick an accessories brand.
There's less explanation around accessories...
Yes, you don't need to explain anything to the buyers. For retail, you need a show space, you need racks, you need stories but for everything else, you don't need that.
Would you ever consider expanding into accessories?
Yes. I considered it last season. I wanted to but I mean, I can't. Next season, I will collaborate.
That's exciting! Finally, tell me about the lookbook. Where did you shoot it?
So there's a new boutique hotel in Dubai, and what I imagined is that I wanted something blue because I needed a summer element. If you notice in the images, you see how in the blue, she's behind water but then, in the pink, it's with flowers. So I kind of incorporated that subtly. These are my elements, water and flowers, so you kind of see that. I feel like this is more Resort, it's holiday, it's cool and if I was going on holiday, I would want to buy this.