Tabloid fodder, mother of three, best-selling author, horse rider… but can Katie Price really do a Victoria Beckham and get the fashion pack on her side as a designer?
At the time of going to press, @MissKatiePrice (the Twitter account of Katie Price, aka Jordan) had 866,728 followers. And Price, who controls her own tweets from her smartphone, had tweeted 2,157 times. Three hours after she hit the stage at trade show Pure Spirit last month to promote her new jersey-led casual fashion brand Day 22 and subsequently tweeted about it, her business partner Lamis Khamis’s mailbox almost went into meltdown with @MissKatiePrice fans flocking to ‘follow’ the brand itself. Khamis received more than 1,000 email notifications about new followers just in the hour Drapers spent with her.
Such is the power of the brand Katie Price and the woman herself, who has harnessed the modern phenomenon that is social networking to incredible effect. She isn’t modest about it either: “[Fashion] people rave about that Agyness Deyn but I have nearly 900,000 followers on Twitter. I just tweeted about my sunglasses and 225,000 people have looked at the picture,” she adds.
So while the headlines attack her lifestyle and relationships, Price herself seems to fascinate so many young women. Perhaps because they identify with her role as a mother of three, or perhaps because they aspire to her lifestyle and fame, or perhaps it’s just because she doesn’t seem to care what people think.
Let’s face it, Price - who has spent half of her career wearing barely a stitch - as a credible fashion designer would be easy pickings for attack but the collection itself is not the short, tight, pink,
Ed Hardy-esque glitz one might expect.
The first drop of the short-order brand, which debuted at Pure Spirit in London and which is still selling to retailers, features low-key grey sweats with motifs and white T-shirts - one of which carries a beautiful tiger image commissioned by Khamis. Wholesale prices are £19 to £60.
“It will sit alongside T by Alexander Wang, C&C California, Sass & Bide and Polo Ralph Lauren,” says Khamis, who also has her own glitzy, slightly pricier eponymous line. Khamis adds she will target premium indies and department stores as stockists for Day 22. The pair have secured 18 stockists, including five-store indie Muse in Hertfordshire and Lara Boutique in Chiswick and Dublin.
Price’s vision is clear. “Lamis’s own brand is quite high-end so we decided to do a brand that was quite rock ‘n’ roll and more fashion but cool and trendy. When I was younger I wore tiny outfits but as a mother of three, in a few years I’ll probably stop that. I wear casual clothing a lot.”
Name of the game
There is more to Day 22 than its unexpected designs though. The concept was born out of the rise of the short-order model. On the 22nd of every month a new collection will launch to the trade, which Price says will not be replenished once it has sold out. Initially each drop will have 22 pieces, though this will eventually be expanded to include new categories such as sunglasses and footwear. Price says the first collection almost sold out on day one of Pure Spirit, with the sales team having seen buyers from Japan, the US and France, though this could easily be her supreme confidence talking rather than reality. She’s bloody good at that self-fulfilling prophecy stuff.
She’s thick-skinned too, and it’s not paying lip service when she says she expects to get “slated” for trying fashion, as she recalls the stick she got when she launched KP Equestrian, her horse-riding-like clothing line. It went on to find considerable success since its 2008 launch.
Price says: “I never fitted in the world of equestrian. It’s a snobby industry but now my KP Equestrian brand is the main competitor to Joules in that market. That proves my product works.”
So how much of Day 22 is her designs? “I go to the studio and see the buttons and it’s like a row of sweets. I love it,” she says.
That’s not enough to convince Drapers of her design input, given her partner is an experienced womenswear designer, but what is surprising is her educated chat on the business front. When asked about where Day 22 garments are made, she launches into a lament about copycats that appeared in high street stores after she used UK samplers. She refuses to give details even of the countries that do the CMT for the label (and that’s not because she doesn’t know, because she does say they make for the likes of Stella McCartney and Paul Smith).
She will say all fabrics, including supima cotton and carbon-finished fleece, are sourced in Italy. Khamis adds: “We’re trying to educate them [Katie’s fans] into spending money on good-quality clothing. We added elastane into fleece. If you have a fat day, it’s still comfortable as it has two-way stretch.”
Price is also comfortable talking about production runs, citing 5,000 minimums on T-shirts as a risk game she doesn’t enjoy playing. “That’s a lot for Day 22. We aren’t a mass production across-the-world company. If it doesn’t sell…” she trails off in a moment of rare mask slippage.
It’s barely a second before Price is back fighting-fit with that ‘f*ck everyone’ attitude, though. She summons her car home and ends the interview with: “Day 22 isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But I always say if you are having fun and enjoying what you do, and if you are successful along the way that’s great.” Her bone-crunching alpha male-style handshake leaves one in no doubt that failure is not an option Price will contemplate.
Q&A with Katie Price’s business partner Lamis Khamis
How did you get into fashion?
I did a fine art degree specialising in sculpture at London’s Camberwell College of Arts. I loved fashion and that had always been my ambition but I looked at the London College of Fashion students and they seemed like robots, so I wanted to come at it from a different angle.
Did you start dressing the stars from your stall in Portobello Market?
I was selling vintage jeans and customising and embellishing military stuff before the Great Wall of China brand [a brand with a similar aesthetic] exploded. I ended up dressing celebrities such as Shakira, Kelis and Kylie Minogue.
What’s it like working with Katie Price?
She vets the collection but she isn’t just a figurehead. She is so smart and really knows exactly what she wants and can give you her opinion on a shirt [for example] really clearly. She also only ever partners with one person on a project. She avoids hangers-on who want to take advantage.
What sets Day 22 apart?
We use a team of our own illustrators and young artists to create exclusivity and give talented people a start. What’s great is we work just two months behind [each drop], not six months behind or even a year behind like most brands. The most important thing for me is to get good feedback from the buyers and we’ve had such a good response so far.