Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Local Love: My Interview with KoKo Brown

KoKo Brown

I got the opportunity to sit down and have coffee with one of the hottest designers here in Indianapolis. I was introduced to her work during the Real Women Exposed Fashion Experience show. She is none other than Kimberly Brownlow, but the fashion world knows here brand as KoKo Brown. Brown discussed her work, inspirations and aspirations with me as we sat down last Friday.

RL: Who are you?

KB: My name is Koko Brown. Well, that’s actually the name of my line. My real name is Kimberly Brownlow.

RL: Where is your hometown?

KB: Indianapolis, IN. I sound like a little hick girl. {giggles}

RL: How long have you been designing?

KB: I’ve actually been sketching and designing since I was in the sixth grade. So that would be a total of about 13 years.

RL: Why did you start?

KB: Actually, it was something that kinda crept up on me. You know when you are a little kid, you always have grander dreams of being a star. I got tired of seeing these clothes that wouldn’t fit me; cause I have always been a plus size girl. So I started drawing to see what I could come up with. I started drawing and sketching. In every class I would go to, I started drawing, and that’s what people knew me as.

RL: Who are your inspirations?

KB: Oh my gosh! Monif C is a great inspiration to me. I love really abstract artistic designers like Alexander McQueen. I also love Hussein Chayalan, he’s really really talented. He was able to take things and make it into fashion. He made a skirt out of a table. It collapsed into a table on the runway. He used airplane parts and made a dress.

(One of KoKo Brown's designs on the runway.)

RL: What speaks to you when you’re designing?

KB: What speaks to me are people. I need to see who I’m designing for and lately it’s been plus size women. I want us to be classy. I want us to look just as good as anybody else. I KNOW we have it. I’m tired of seeing the clothes that people are designing now. There’s no umph about it. A lot of clothes out there are the wrong fit for our bodies. Some stuff is just a no go…they should not have went there. I think we don’t have to wear everything a smaller girl wears just to look good. I don’t feel like they need to make some of that stuff in our sizes for us to feel like we look good. We can look just as stylish, couture and sexy as any smaller girl.

RL: Describe your aesthetic.

KB: My clothes are classy, sexy, comfortable and classy.

RL: What do you think about the issues a plus size woman face in our society?

KB: I don’t think you have to be a size 7/8 to be healthy. As long as you eat right, as long as you’re exercising, as long as you’re taking care of your health and going to the doctor you’re okay. I go to the doctor. I talk to my doctor. As a plus size woman, even though I carry weight, everytime I go in the doctor lets me know I’m healthy. Keep working out and keep eating better. As long as we are taking care of ourselves, I don’t feel like we have to fit into a box of what people think we’re supposed to be. I don’t go by what scientist say, I go by what my body is telling me. My body has told me I’m always going to be a plus size girl. I’m not going to eat bad or not workout, I’m going to do what I have to do. But I’m not going to change myself because that person says I’m supposed to be a size 10.

(A happy client in KoKo Brown.)

RL: Many people leave Indianapolis to pursue greatness in other cities. Are you going to leave us?

KB: My heart has always been in New York, and for a time I was in Chicago. But you know what, I’ve always wanted to base a business out of Indy. Indy is starting to become more fashionable. Indy is starting to become more fashion conscious. There is so much talent here that I would like to base my business here. But I just don’t want to be here in Indy, I want to be global. I want to be able to go to Milan and see my shop. I want to go to England and see my clothes. I want this to be for everybody because plus isn’t just here in Indy, it’s everywhere.

RL: Do you take special orders?

KB Yes. You can contact me on Facebook or MySpace. You can contact me through my email, kbrownlo@yahoo.com. Website is coming soon. I’m always open and available. I do a little bit of everything. I would like to have at least a week, sometimes even a few days. It depends on what you want. If it is something complex, I would like to have at least two to three weeks.

RL: What are your goals/dreams?

KB: My mother always said dream big. {giggles} My biggest dream is to have my own fashion house. I want to do different collections for different people. I want my clothes to be really eclectic, really fun, really flirty. My focus may be on plus, but I want to design for a wide range of people. I can design for everybody, but plus is important to me.

RL: What is in your future?

KB: I just got a couple of offers to do some shows. I’m working on some photo shoots and the website. Me and a fellow designer (Shay Robinson of Black Pear) are setting a show for November. It’s going to be a great fall collection. Beautiful colors. Fall is my absolute favorite season. This collection that I’m building right now is going to be to die for.
The sky is the limit, if I could sit on top of the world that would be great!

Koko's star is rising. She will definately be one that RL will watch for. For more information on Koko or to ask her how she can hook you up, email her at kbrownlo@yahoo.com.

(All photos were submitted by Koko Brown.)

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