Kristen Reid's Lore Collective
When coming home resembles the calm of vacation, you know you are in the right place! Toronto-born Kristen Reid grew up in the hustle and bustle of the big city but relocated to Halifax, Nova Scotia to attend Dalhousie University. After being in the East Coast for nearly ten years, this is home.
No stranger to the fashion industry, at just 10 years old, Reid was introduced to it in the form of modelling. This led to agency work, and fast forward to today, her fashion label Lore Collective. At first glance, her line opts for a playful feminine take on classic forms, but her attention to fabric, detail and movement also echoes the modern woman that can look good and be comfortable without any compromise.
Following Reid’s SS2020 collection presentation, Here & There caught up with the designer in her current hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia to discuss life on the East Coast, showing at Paris Fashion Week and what’s in store for Lore Collective.
Aleyah Solomon: You are from Toronto, based in Halifax, and have a showroom in NYC. Do you ever find this difficult to be based in a different city than your showroom? What brought you to the East Coast?
Kristen Reid: Yes [laughs]! I grew up in Mississauga, a larger suburb just outside of Toronto, and, of course, I always went into the city; but when I was in high school, I had extremely bad, crippling anxiety. It got to the point where I would have to take days off because I couldn’t physically get out of bed and I was sick all the time. I decided to challenge myself by grade 12 (my anxiety was bad my whole life but it became so much worse in grade 9) to move somewhere after I graduated. I started looking at universities outside of Ontario and always liked the idea of being on a coast so I was looking more to Vancouver and Halifax. I figured Halifax is nice because I would be closer to home, so, after driving to check out Dalhousie University, I fell in love with the city and decided to stay. Then, I got into the fashion industry here and was approached by my current brand management group in New York City. They manage everything on our end, and because I love to travel and wanted to stay in Halifax, they agreed it could work. New York is amazing and a lot of our meetings and photoshoots are there. We make it work and, in a way, coming back home to Halifax is like a vacation. People in the creative industry need to live in a place where they feel inspired all the time and also, where they can take a breath. Halifax is home and I want to stay here as long as I can.
In 2018, you launched Lore Collective. What is it about?
Lore Collective is a brand that is both chic and approachable. I really like minimal style, so the print this year is the first print we are actually using, besides lace which is what we used in last year’s collection. I have always been more attracted to minimal styles that are a bit over-exaggerated. I am inspired by Céline and Chloé – though Chloé is more bohemian, so I would say Céline is my biggest inspiration. So yeah, chic with a bit of edge; I have always had a little bit of gothic in me, personally. And I work on creating pieces that are timeless and less trendy.
Where did the name come from?
My mother and I were talking – she was playing with my name to create something but I wasn’t into it, and then one day I just thought ‘Lore’. It is derived from folklore and, apart from designing, it inspires me as I am also a writer and I love reading – that is what it means to me, but of course it could mean something different to others. It really depends on the approach of the consumer.
How did you start your company?
Around six years ago, my friend Donelle Fraser created the Fashion Society at Dalhousie University so people could have an escape. Most students are at Dal for science or business – I was an English student at the time and I put myself out there because I knew how to sew and had an interest in fashion. I had already been in the industry for a while, having done modeling at a young age, so I decided to start working with the Fashion Society and became so involved with it that I was hanging out more with the Fashion Society than I was going to class! When we were in our fourth year, I was selling my designs along with custom-made pieces requested by people at the shows. I was doing custom orders for a bit, receiving people’s measurements on the spot. It wasn’t Lore, it was just ‘Kristen’s Creations’ though that is not what we called ourselves. People just wanted my stuff. For about a year, I wasn’t able to meet demands and thought, ‘wow, this could be a thing’. So, I decided to leave Dal and pursue fashion by completing a correspondence course from Parsons in NYC while staying in Halifax. It was a two-year fashion and business program, which I completed in a year. It was really intense and, while I was studying, I was still doing the Fashion Society for fun. I remember going to a model casting and saying, ‘okay, I am going to create a brand’. And that is how it all came to be!
Oh great, and your brand is officially called ‘Lore Collective’.
‘Lore Collective Clothing’ is the legal name of the company. At first, we were just going to do one collection a year but now we are branching out to do seasonal collections (Spring Summer/Fall Winter). That is what a collective is to me: a smaller collection you can wear all year round.
Where do you find inspiration for your collections?
I am always inspired by the people I meet. I also work at Starbucks and meet a lot of interesting people there. But sometimes I see someone walking on the street and think, ‘what would look good on this person?’. And then I just start visualizing looks for them. I also used to drape all my designs on my friends; spending all that time with each friend and really learning about them helped to influence the design I was creating. So that, and just passing people on the street and being inspired by what I think they would look cool in.
Your FW19 collection is edgy with asymmetrical lines, stunning fabrics of silk and lots of white, and your SS20 collection is soft, feminine and subtle. Who would you describe as the ‘Lore woman’?
Thinking about the people who inspire my pieces, I would say the Lore woman is someone who doesn’t really go out seeking fashion but more so wants to feel comfortable in how they look. With my own experience of gaining weight, I had a hard time finding pieces that made me feel comfortable because I would go out and buy all these designer labels as one size and then time would pass and I wasn’t able to fit in them anymore – which sucks, because fashion pieces are investments. You want to be able to wear things with confidence no matter if you are a size 2 or a size 16. When I started making my designs, I actually had adjustable options in my mind so there were a few pieces last season, like the slouchy silk dress, that you could adjust – so I could fit it but it is originally a size 2. The Lore Woman is someone who isn’t afraid to be themselves both physically and mentally, who wants to find pieces that make them feel confident regardless of fluctuating weight – the everyday, real woman living with today’s stresses and lifestyle.
Last year, you showed your FW19 collection in Paris. Tell us about showing in Paris Fashion Week. How did this come about?
It was so crazy! After showing in Atlantic Fashion Week, I was approached by people who work at Condé Nast and they were like ‘hey, we love your stuff and we want to eventually have you in Vogue’ and whatnot...let’s do something together. The same day, I got an email from this company that puts out shows all over the world and they said they saw my stuff at AFW and were looking for Canadian designers to showcase with them. I went from being a small-town girl designing to someone wanting to show on an international level. It was crazy and obviously I wanted to do it. I brought Wyatt McDougall, my assistant at the time, with me to Paris. We met in the Fashion Society and they were my best assistant, so I also consider to be my design assistant, so it was inevitable that Wyatt was going to come with me. During the Paris prep, we met so many people. Dominika Perek, who is now our business consultant, and Richard Thornn, our stage manager, now owns Names, a company that showcases different designers around the world. So many people were really great and eager to help us with Lore. I never realized it was like this in the industry so it was really eye-opening. Paris was such an amazing experience and I found that if people like you, then they want to help you out.
You are working towards sustainable fashion and practices and I know in your SS20 collection, your leather pants are faux leather. Do you see yourself using more and more sustainable fabrics and ways of managing your brand in the future?
We use Swatch On, which is now a CFDA member - an affiliation with the American Group of Fashion Designers - and we are on our way to becoming CFDA approved because we have our brand management group in New York so we qualify. They have this amazing sustainable movement going on and also a back lot of unused fabrics that they sell at discount prices. It’s just a great one-stop spot for fabrics and they have tencel fabric which is brand new. I believe they are based in Korea and are in the process of moving into the USA as well so they won’t be spending too much on shipping/airfare which we want to avoid. Another feature they have is digital printing which, believe it or not, saves a lot for the environment. Rather than ink, it’s digitally lasered on – not really sure how it works. [laughs] We are sustainable, but we can’t 100% say we are, because we have things that wouldn’t pass as sustainable, but we are doing everything we possibly can at this moment, the best way we can. We strive to get better and better and right now, we are doing our best. For example, we start by doing pre-orders first to gage how many units to make so we won’t have anything sitting on the back burner, and we use natural fibres.
And as of now, you are also popular in Europe, specifically in the UK where you sell some of your pieces. Where can we find your stuff?
In London, mostly in smaller, independent boutiques that carry select pieces. We don’t yet have an official Lore stand but that is what we are working on now for some places in NYC and London. We are also collaborating on something with a brand from Italy but I don’t want to mention too much just yet!
What is next for Lore Collective?
We are doing natural cotton t-shirts and are working on expanding our sizes as well. We need to get our numbers right first, we will do some in-demand research to gage how many sizes per unit to make and will hopefully get our sizes up to a 16. Last year we had up to size 12 and, soon, I would like going up to size 20/22. We want to be more body-positive as well, not necessarily calling the sizes ‘plus sizes’ but just having more options for people. Also, we are working on getting our pieces into regular shops, and some accessories as well! We have the handmade leather belts that Wyatt makes and we use our leftover scraps of fabrics to make scrunchies and key chains. Working on having no waste!
And you have obviously started designing the FW20 collection. Can you give us any teasers/colours into what we will see?
Our colour for FW20 is camel! I have always been drawn to white and black because I always fall in love with the fabrics that are rarely available. But now that we are working with Swatch On I am able to find fabrics I like and pick the colour, so we are currently hunting for the perfect tone of camel! ■