Around this time last year, just months after celebrating its one-year anniversary, Discollection closed. The Gastown boutique had been known as one of the best places in the city to find a well-edited selection of wearable vintage clothing. But after dealing with mould and landlord problems, Kimberley Dawn Cathers decided to close her store. First, though, she hosted a “fill a bag” sale, at which shoppers were invited to stuff as much merchandise as they could into a fixed-price plastic bag.
“After I closed,” Cathers told the Straight, “there were a few days where I was there by myself, cleaning up the store and playing Sigur Rós really loud, crying my eyes out.”
Since closing her store, Cathers has focused on building kdon, the line of clothing (and a short form of her name) she started nearly three years ago and sold exclusively at Discollection. Cathers makes the entire line herself, using approximately 10 percent vintage fabrics—she especially likes working old army jackets into her pieces—and sustainable fibres such as organic cotton, linen, and bamboo.
“I have a hard time getting enough stuff produced because I can’t afford to have it done at a factory,” Cathers explains, “so it’s all done factory-style at my own house.” She adds, “It’s not often that I’ll wear an entire outfit of my own stuff, because I just want to sell it. If I kept one of everything I made, that’s hundreds of dollars I could be bringing in instead.”
This handmade approach to fashion is part of what appeals to the designer’s clientele. What further draws them in is the fact that, in an increasingly fast industry, where knockoffs of runway trends often land at mass retailers before the originals have arrived, Cathers doesn’t conform to what’s trendy in a given season, preferring to stick with what she loves.
“My themes are always evolving, but I really like big necks, hoods, wrapping straps, et cetera,” Cathers says. These feature prominently in the collection. The kdon colour palette has also remained consistent. “I would never use lavender or pink,” she says. “I like muted shades, and when I do use colour, it’s usually something like puke yellow, which I love but most people probably think is really gross.”
The kdon line includes pants, skirts, tops, and even hats. Prices range from $45 for hats and $80 to $150 for tops and bottoms to $400 for a highly technical jacket she created as a fashion-design student at the Blanche Macdonald Centre.
Despite the increasing popularity of her line, Cathers is unsure what the future of kdon will be. “I know it will follow me through whatever I do, but I still want as much knowledge of the other side of this business as I can,” she explains, saying that she needs more technical experience.
For Cathers, who hails from the East Kootenays, the ultimate job would include working with fashion visionaries Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, and even Ann Demeulemeester, known for her forward-thinking designs. She says that if she had the time and the means, her designs would be much more avant garde.
Considering kdon’s success, and the fact that Cathers’s fans have followed her through the ups and downs she’s faced since closing Discollection, that probably wouldn’t hurt her one bit.
Kdon clothing can be purchased on-line at discollection.wordpress.com/, and will soon be available at Two of a Few (356 Water Street).