Kate Pierre is a recipient of the ApparelMagic Grant for Emerging Designers of Color, a new initiative to encourage and empower promising fashion professionals.
Pierre’s brand Kate&Frances begins with a strong motto: “you have the power to dictate how the world sees you.” And that makes her mission deceptively simple: designing clothes that make their wearers feel strong and beautiful.
“The reason that I started Kate&Frances was that I moved to Vancouver seven years ago, and I couldn’t find the product that I liked to wear,” Pierre says. “I couldn’t find styles that expressed my sense of identity and who I am as a person. I was like, ‘Well, why don’t I just make it? I’ve done this before, worked in fashion for twenty years. I can do this.’”
It’s easier said than done, but Pierre is doing it one garment at a time, building a brand and creating an inclusive community around it.
“The longer I stay in Vancouver, the more that I’ve seen how little representation there is of Black and Indigenous people of color within the fashion industry,” Pierre says. “I want to focus my business on having representation for us.”
As an industry veteran, Pierre is no stranger to design, and she already has hit her pace. Pierre’s wheelhouse is in spare, sophisticated separates in the kind of inventive silhouettes that form the not-so-basic backbone, and often the much-loved forever pieces, of the modern woman’s wardrobe.
“When people don’t notice those things but they feel a difference, that’s an amazing thing,” Pierre says. “You shouldn’t even notice good design. You should be able to go about your day and do whatever functions you need to do and move whatever way you need to move and not feel restricted. And if you don’t notice it, then my job is done.”
And just as great as the clothes look, they come with green cred too, all made from deadstock and Oeko-Tex Standard 100 fabrics.
“I like to play around with pattern making,” she says, referring to uniquely cut garments that eschew side seams and their associated wasted fabric scraps. “I love a challenge, and having the least waste possible is my goal.”
Proving that green fashion is no longer a crunchy hobby, Kate&Frances clothes bridge the gap between chic and sustainable.
“I don’t want to throw out my clothing,” Pierre says. “I want to be able to love my clothing and wear it year after year, and for me to be able to do that, it needs to be good quality and it needs to be that timeless, eclectic piece that i can pull out and feel good in anytime of the year.”
The brand’s strong, oversized silhouettes can suit a range of body types as well as genders. Pierre herself often shops in the men’s departments, preferring that market’s sizing and thoughtful design. In fact, her lookbook presents a gender-fluid approach to dressing that permeates her line.
“It’s not just about the person who’s wearing it,” she says. “It’s about the feeling and the emotion they have when they put on their clothing.”
Representation is a key strand of the Kate&Frances DNA. Of Trinidadian and New Zealand heritage, Pierre works every day to create a more inclusive fashion industry, working with Black models as the face of her brand, but also, and this is key, making sure the voice behind the designs is heard.
“I also teach part time,” she says, “and I see it in students’ faces when they see me standing in front of them teaching. It’s a whole other side of the industry that they didn’t know existed.”
Connection, after all, is what drives Pierre. With the ongoing pandemic, she’s using this time to look at how now to communicate with her circles–customers and artist friends alike.
“How do we create community with all of these things going on?” she asks.
Pierre is not shy to boost stories that raise awareness about causes close to her heart. Using the Kate&Frances blog as her medium, she posts interviews, recommendations, and general vibes for her audience to connect with.
On all counts, Kate Pierre is a name to watch. After receiving the ApparelMagic Grant for Emerging Designers of Color, we hope to see more of her work reaching an even broader audience in the new future.
For more information on the ApparelMagic Grant for Emerging Designers of Color, the winners, and other resources for fashion businesses, please click here.