September 17, 2010
It used to be a bear of a chore (GR!) to hone in on ethically-made clothing, shoes, accessories, etc. that, how shall we put it, don’t look like total bobo ass. But those were the early nineties. Such arduous chores were competing with worries along the lines of, ‘how long DOES Kool-Aid-dyed hair stay vibrant’ and, ‘when should I watch last night’s taped episode of 120 Minutes?’ These days though, you can’t get two virtual feet without virtually running into someone virtually blabbing on about green this or eco that. The trick now is getting through the rhetoric and finding designers and businesses who genuinely care about such things. Fear not though, dear reader, because store-owner Kate McGregor has cultivated the highest order of ethical and sustainably minded fashion and put it all in one place—her shop, Kaight, which opened in 2006 on the lower east side. And now Kate’s brought her store to Brooklyn, mere blocks from our studio! We got a chance to catch up with Kate just before her shop’s opening celebration to talk about eco-fashion, interesting nicknames, and how much Brooklyn rules. Check it out.
Kindness of Ravens: Alright, so in our endeavor to veer away from the equivalent of a blog novella, we’ll keep these questions brief and to the point. First off, we have to address the branding of Kaight. We love love love your logo. We’re bird buddies! Who did that for you though? Kate McGregor: My dear friend, artist Kyle Goen designed my logo for me. I love it and think it’s the perfect representation of the brand—modern, organic, sophisticated. KoR: It really is beautiful. Great job. Can you explain the origin of the store’s name? Did the DMV totally mangle your name one day and cause you to be like, ‘Wait a minute….’ KG: Haha! That’s funny (and totally plausible about the DMV!). I came across the spelling a while ago and it just stuck with me. I just really love the way it looks. KoR: Were any other interesting names in the running? MacGreggr’s maybe? KG: I really wanted to stay away from a name that referenced “green” or “organic”, so really Kaight was the only real contender. KoR: Yeah, it beats OrganiGreeniePants. We’ve long been fans of your LES shop, just across from MooShoes, and we noticed your Atlantic Street shop mere blocks from our studio just the other day. What brought you to our part of town? KG: I’ve been interested in opening another store for awhile, but was never quite sure where. I was riding my bike through the neighborhood one day in June and something just clicked. I just had a really good feeling about the area. KoR: We like it. What brought you to the area in particular? Do you know it well? KG: I lived nearby in Carroll Gardens about 5 years ago and really loved the area. I always wished I had spent more time in the neighborhood (I only lived there a year), but this was somewhat familiar territory. KoR: Ah! That’s where we live. Mmmm….trees. So, what got you into the fashion world in the first place? Do you have a good trying-on-mom’s-gowns/dressing-up-the-dog ‘first fashion memory’ story or anything like that? KG: To be honest, I don’t have a specific, single fashion memory. Both my grandmother and my mother were extremely stylish and their love of fashion definitely influenced me at a young age. I do recall that around age 7, I determined that I wanted to open my own store, preferably in NYC (I grew up in Ohio). My dad and I used to sit around the table sketching storefronts and daydreaming. KoR: Oh, that’s so cute! I wanted to be Indiana Jones when I was a kid. So, we’re presuming the Brooklyn shop will follow the same formula that the Manhattan store does—sharp-looking eco-friendly and/or animal-friendly clothing from independent designers? KG: Correct. The organic/fair-trade ethos is at the core of the Kaight philosophy. I will continue to source designers that fall within these parameters. KoR: We hear tell that some designers have even produced some exclusive lines just for this shop. True? KG: We don’t have any designers producing exclusive lines for us (not yet, at least). However, several, have cut a few styles that will be exclusive to the store. KoR: Oh, that’s very cool. Are there any new specific clothing or accessory lines you’re really excited about that we may not have heard of? KG: I’m really excited about Eairth this season. It’s chic, urban boho all made with organic cotton and naturally dyed with herbs, plants, natural indigo, etc. The natural dyes really create a special texture and an irregular color palette, which I find really cool. KoR: Nice. We hit up some pretty nice Fashion’s Night Out parties this past Friday. Were you able to catch any of this Fashion Week’s shows or parties? KG: Given that I opened the Brooklyn store at the launch of fashion week, I’m kinda sitting this season out. I did attend Samantha Pleet’s presentation, however, which was really fun. Her spring collection looks terrific. KoR: Alright then, that’s enough on-topic fashion talk. Time for the lightening round. Dog or cat person?
KG: Dog (LEO, terrier mutt from Waggie Tail Dog Rescue) KoR: Cute! Favorite find in the Brooklyn Heights/Boerum Hill area? KG: BoB (Building On Bond). I’ve been here 4 days and already eaten here twice! KoR: Oh yeah, we LOVE their style. Great ambiance. And they tend to have really nice beers and wines. Wish their veggie burger was vegan though!!! Alright, nickname growing up?
KG: Bean KoR: …interesting. Favorite vegan-/veg-friendly restaurant?
KG: Candle79. KoR: TOTALLY agree. Band you’ve been listening to lately?
KG: School of Seven Bells. KoR: Nice. And finally…most importantly…favorite thing about Brooklyn? KG: The people! Seriously, I really love the sense of community fostered here. I’ve already met several of my neighbors—fellow merchants, as well as residents—and everyone has been extremely welcoming. It feels really good to be here.
KoR: Well, as a fellow neighbor, welcome and see you around the ‘hood!