Canada's hot Pink Tartan does Jackie O with a hip twist
When it comes to working behind the scenes in the Canadian fashion industry, Kimberley Newport-Mimran has an impressive résumé to say the least. Fresh out of Toronto’s George Brown College with a degree in fashion merchandising and manufacturing, she landed her first big gig in the Hudson’s Bay Company buying office in 1988. Then, in 1990, she moved on to merchandising and product development for Club Monaco and Caban, two companies her husband, Joseph Mimran (aka the man behind Joe Fresh Style), owned before selling them to Polo Ralph Lauren in 1999.
But after spending more than a decade backstage, Newport-Mimran was ready to step into the spotlight with a more creative role as head designer of her own label. So in 2002, she launched Pink Tartan, a luxury line of wearable women’s clothing that’s doing very, very well. Not to downplay her beautifully designed clothes, but this well-versed, hands-on marketing machine clearly knows what she’s doing in the sales and promotion department. She’s scored accounts at Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and Holt Renfrew. Celebrities including Kim Cattrall, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Kate Hudson are more than happy to wear her stuff. Suffice it to say, learning the ins and outs of the industry before trying her hand at design has paid off.
“I think it made me a much better designer,” admits Newport-Mimran, who sat down with the Straight at the downtown Vancouver Bay’s Pink Tartan fall launch. “I understand how to put a collection together. I understand what sells, what doesn’t sell, because I was on the retailing side of things for so long. And on the product-development side, [I learned] it’s really about making an architecturally sound garment. And so I had all of those components before I put together my ideas. So I think I was able to execute a very strong product right out of the gate.”
This season builds on that success: the fall collection is a well-packaged, highly marketable set of quality separates that are easy to mix and match. And true to Pink Tartan form, every piece has a classic Jackie O feel to it, but with a modern, hip twist. Her black cropped wool-cashmere Bow Jacket ($495), for example, is a classy, timeless fall garment; at the same time, it gives a subtle nod to the ’80s shoulders that are all the rage on the catwalk these days. And then there’s the mini wool-blend cream-and-black Tulip Plaid Skirt ($295)—part grunge, part Camelot, and extremely figure-flattering.
“I think some of the runway is so fabulous and so inspiring and so artistic, but it’s hard for real women to wear it,” says Newport-Mimran, who personally tries on every one of her designs before giving it the green light. “So what I try to do is interpret all [the] trends that I’m feeling and put it into a garment that many women can actually wear.”
If there’s one all-purpose, must-have Pink Tartan piece this season, it’s the Ski Pant ($295). These stretchy skinnies are thicker than leggings yet dressier than jeans.
“It is the pant that every woman should have,” Newport-Mimran says. “You should throw out your denim and you should get a Pink Tartan Ski Pant because it’s day-to-dinner.”¦I can’t live without mine, and that’s why I’m such a big promoter of it.”
As for setting up shop in the Bay (where she got her first big fashion break), the chatty designer is proud of the fact that she’s been able to come full circle with her career. She’s also more than happy to see her label make it big in her own country.
“It’s the oldest department store in North America,” she says of the Bay, which is upping its big-name fashion brands with her label, along with the likes of Juicy Couture and Ed Hardy, this fall. “It’s Canadian, and I’m a Canadian designer.”