Q&A with Kimberly Ovitz

Kimberly Ovitz 

Kimberly Ovitz got her start in the fashion industry at the age of 14 working alongside Jenna Lyons. Now, at age 28, the California-born but NYC-based designer is heading into the fourth season of her namesake label. We had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Kimberly just 8 days before her runway show. Read our interview with the edgy designer below!

FETC: So, you started off in California and then moved to NYC. Do you think it was too hard to launch your own label on the west coast?

KO: Definitely. I think that you miss the relationships with people in the industry when you're in the west. Just being [in New York] and being able to meet someone whether it's an editor or a makeup artist or a graphic designer or maybe an artist you want to collaborate with is incredible. It all happened once I moved here, whereas when I was in LA I felt very away and out of touch and it was definitely a struggle. 

I think LA is great if you have a "done" company. Its definitely doable. There are a few brands that are able to make it work, but for what I wanted for my brand and even in my own life was in New York. 

FETC: Totally. And even before you moved you'd been coming to New York for awhile...

KO: I came to New York to do all of my internships. My first job was at J.Crew when I was 14.

FETC: 14!? Was that even legal?

KO: I think I just had to fill out some paper work and stuff. It wasn't as crazy strict then as it is now. 

FETC: Yeah, it's amazing how many laws there are now. What was the internship like? Coffee runs?

KO: It was actually one of the best internships I've ever had. They had me in every sort of meeting to teach me everything. I was working for Jenna Lyons, who at the time was the senior womens designer, and she had me in fittings and merchandising meetings. I mean I really did everything. They had me create color boards, they had me sketching, I was working with fabrics and mood boards. They just showed me every part of the company and it was just such a great environment to learn from and be a part of.

FETC: Wow, that sounds like the perfect internship. Are you still in touch with Jenna?

KO: Yeah, she comes to all my shows. She's like a mentor to me.

FETC: What's it like seeing where she is now? 

KO: I think we both have the same feeling. It's so cool to see what she's done and where she is now in her career and I'm so proud of her. And she's told me the same about me. 

FETC: Your work today is so different than anything you'd ever see at J.Crew. Have you always had the same design aesthetic or is it ever-changing?

KO: I've explored my tastes throughout my whole life. In elementary school I was doing the whole grunge thing with ripped up jeans and plaid shirts. Then in 7th grade I remember doing the Clueless look in Contempo Casuals. And then in 8th grade I thought I was Marky Mark so I wore Calvin Klein briefs with baggy dude pants and a white wife beater. Once I got to 9th grade I wanted to be totally chic and refined so I started wearing heels, fancy white pants and blouses, and makeup. But then in 10th grade I was like eff this and I stopped wearing makeup and just started wearing jeans and t-shirts. And after that it was just kind of a gradual thing into where I am now. 

FETC: Wow you've done it all! So, tell us a bit about launching your brand. Were you all in or was it a gradual thing?

KO: It was all in. I quit my job and went 100% into it. I first started in all black and white. It was all supposed to be luxury fabrics that were minimal and basics that you would want and could have forever. Initially I had this American equestrian cool girl at the country house type of vibe and then as its moved forward I've taken that vibe into a different place.

FETC: So, where is that voice in your upcoming collection?

KO: It's now about this muse who's very much a warrior and strong woman who believes that less is more and wants to be comfortable. She has an intellectual sensuality about her and identifies more with a wild horse rather than an equestrian.

FETC: Do you have any dream collaborations or anything in the works?

KO: I don't know if I have any dream collaborations but there are several things we are thinking about and people we want to reach out to. We're definitely in a place right now where we're trying to restructure and as we do that we're trying to figure out who we want to collaborate with. I'd love to collaborate with artists and photographers — I like different mediums of art. Like I'd love to collaborate with tech companies.

FETC: You're very much involved in the social media world. Can you tell us a bit about that? Is it all you?

KO: Oh yeah, it's all me. It has to be. Because people know when it's not. I'm big in social media because my brothers work in that industry and they've taught me a lot about it. Even though I'm late to the social media game, there's a ton of stuff I want to do with it. At first I was so focused on the design but now that i have a team that's solid I'm able to focus on bigger picture things.

FETC: Like accessories?

KO: I'd love to do accessories but right now it's just about timing and when it's right. I want to launch things appropriately — I don't just want to do it just to do it. There's so much in the market that's so saturated right now that I just want it all to make sense. We always do accessories for the shows but we don't particularly sell them unless they're special requests.

FETC: Totally. So you started doing presentations and now you're doing full on runways. How major is that change?

KO: It takes awhile to be in a place where you can do a runway collection. I mean, it takes a long time to know your voice and I even think I started presenting too early. But you work so hard on a collection, and to be able to see it move down the runway is so much stronger and satisfying. I just feel like it's cooler to see it move. I get why people do presentations and I think that works for some people and I get that it's nice for editors and their schedules, but there's just something to be said about doing a show that moves.

FETC: And your stuff moves SO well! We can't wait to see the upcoming collection! So what are the last 48 hours before the show like?

KO: There's not a lot of sleeping. I'm in jeans and a t-shirt and I'm doing everything from the run of show to last minute model fittings to stylings to music to accessories. It's all hands on deck last minute touch ups and editing. 

FETC: Sounds intense.

KO: Yeah, we're right in the middle of model castings right now.

FETC: In that case, we have one more question...Are you juicing? (Note: Ovitz was drinking a Juice Press juice during the interview)

KO: No. I mean I don't have a lot of time to eat. But I'm raw. So I juice during the day and then I eat a solid raw meal for dinner. 

FETC: So that explains your perfect skin!