I first wrote about MARGE Clothing in March and have been excitedly following the progress of this new tall clothing company ever since. On July 15, MARGE launched its first collection for fall/winter 2015 which includes some absolutely gorgeous one-of-a-kind pieces and certainly fills a void in the tall luxury clothing sector. I had the opportunity to interview the founder of MARGE, 6’1 Kaersten Cooper, and our chat runs the gamut from from the inspiration behind the line, to fabric selection, to the challenges and rewards of being an entrepreneur, to advice for aspiring entrepreneurs and more! Read on for all of the interesting tidbits.
I would love to hear about you, your background and what inspired you to launch MARGE Clothing.
Kaersten: My grandmother Marjorie Boldt was the inspiration behind MARGE Clothing. The namesake of our brand, my grandmother was a talented fashion illustrator and designer in the 1930s and 40’s. A mentor at an early age, she sparked my interest in fashion by teaching me everything about sewing, from concept to construction. Although the design practices she passed on to me are infused into every garment we create, it was her philosophy on how a woman should carry herself and how she should dress that stood out to me most. She always encouraged me to wear life well.
My background is in design and marketing. So, prior to MARGE, I held various positions in corporate communications and marketing divisions for companies in the fashion, advertising, real estate and finance industries. My first position out of college was with a women’s footwear start-up in Los Angeles, CA. Footwear remains, to this day, to be a weakness of mine!
MARGE exists because of five challenges I have faced as a tall woman existing within the greater women’s apparel industry: Garment fit, quality, design, variety and availability. Through the years, shopping became continually disappointing. Searching for and never finding high quality, elegant garments that were specifically designed to flatter my 6’1” frame, I decided to create a brand that would address the needs and expectations of fellow tall women.
We are very proud to be the only upscale womenswear brand that has put an incredible amount of research, time and effort into reinventing fit for tall. Plus, our classically inspired silhouettes artfully constructed in high-end custom fabrics really make for an incredibly unique experience – just like that of being tall.
Can you describe the process of creating the MARGE line from concept to design to fit to manufacturing and anything in between?
Kaersten: Our approach to design is unique, in that, with every garment in every collection we create, we are consistently reflecting five working principles: Authentic. Nostalgic. Curated. Tailored. Urbane. Whether concepting or constructing, we work to pause and reflect upon what has worked in the past, commemorate authenticity and curate staple and signature silhouettes that are tailored for the one-of-a-kind modern tall woman. We genuinely try to keep the intricacy and nuances of the tall woman’s lifestyle in mind throughout our design process.
I will say, that when creating a collection for MARGE, the most important phase in the design process is the concepting phase. This is where inspiration, in all its forms is sought out and/or absorbed. It’s a part of the process where you can opt for unconventional ideas, where you take influence from the broader culture and look at not only fashion, but lifestyle and economic trends or shifts as well. Environmental influence on a grander scale, I find, is crucial to embrace when you are attempting to bring to life, a story that is at the end of the day, told by way of shapes and materials. The process of opening up to boundless ideas and inspirations leads to epiphanies that I find, guide the design process in a very authentic way.
Lately I have been paying more attention to fabrics. I’d love to know more about the fabric selections for the MARGE collection. Why do you believe these fabrics will stand the test of time?
Kaersten: Understanding fabrics and their temperament is incredibly important when curating a wardrobe that will last the test of time. MARGE believes that fabrics should not only impart a feeling of beauty and comfort when worn, but they should keep pace with your life – wherever you go and whatever you do.
For the Fall/Winter 2015 collection, we thoughtfully sourced and hand-selected a combination of fabrics/weaves as an extension of our design philosophy – focused on quality, distinctive features and resilience. For silhouettes like Amalie, Astrid or Gitte, we selected silk because it drapes and holds shape beautifully, has a great lustre and hand, is a strong natural fiber and is warm in the winter months. For Laurine and Lisbet (coming soon) we chose virgin boiled wool because we wanted to offer our clients the flexibility of a knit for ease of movement in a robust weight and hearty in texture for protection and warmth. The strengths of the textured jacquard weave in Elin and Elise are that it is a firm fabric that holds seaming detail really well, the fabric design itself means minimal styling is required and the material imparts a distinctive elegance – an investment for the long term. To this day, I have jacquard pieces of my grandmother’s that have kept their personality and shape and have withstood the test of time.
For 2015, I am buying clothing solely from tall specialty lines because I want to bring awareness to all of the wonderful options that are available to tall ladies. It’s quite exciting that tall women now have access to a line of luxurious, carefully constructed clothing. For me, the beautiful pieces from the MARGE collection would be an investment, and I would need to save my clothing allowance for a few months in order to buy an item. Of course, I would be willing to do so if I felt that the item (such as the beautiful black wool coat that I have my eye on!) is one-of-a-kind and will be in my life for many years to come.
What would you say to my readers who are unsure as to whether or not they can afford a MARGE item? Why is it important to have investments pieces in your closet?
Kaersten: We love that you love our virgin boiled wool coat! It really is exceptional – so stay tuned for updates on Lisbet and Laurine’s arrival!
We understand that as a tall woman, it’s a luxury to find garments that fit your frame and at the same time, compliment your lifestyle. This real-life luxury is an experience we are committed to consistently delivering. We want to be authentic in our approach to design, supporting individual styles for special or everyday moments. And we want to be accessible so that tall women can feel confident when curating their own wardrobes.
I think its fair to say that when you invest in something like clothing, it can often be a personal or emotional experience. That is why we are so focused on quality and details – to earn trust. Details make all the difference. So things like hand-selected fabrics from small European mills, custom designed prints, colors and fabrics in limited quantity collections made in the USA, convey an exclusivity, like that of height, eternally unique as you are.
It is important to take your time and be thoughtful about how to curate your wardrobe. Investing in the right blend of timeless staples and statement pieces means that the classic shapes will never go out of style and the signature pieces can always act as perfect accents.
The concept of building a curated wardrobe appeals to me more and more as I approach my mid-30s. What are your tips for tall ladies who want to create a curated wardrobe that will pass the test of time?
Kaersten: I would advise shopping with a brand like MARGE that understands and has solved for the challenges tall women face with “normal” store or boutique inventory. The beauty of height is that it is delightfully different than the greater population, not to be categorized as normal by any means. Knowing this, knowing how unique and special the trait of height is, and what your specific dressing needs are, seek out a brand that is focused on fitting your elongated frame, with stylish solutions of the highest quality, to last for years to come. Know your sizing, and research fit guides or size charts online to ensure you make the right decision the first time. If you don’t know what size will fit you best, reach out to learn more. MARGE for instance, has a dedicated team of Fit Experts to help answer any and all questions about each style in the collection and a detailed Fit Guide to further ensure the right selection. In addition, look for model heights and product videos so that you can see how garments fit, fall and flow on a taller frame like yours. It helps give context and tells a relatable story. Select styles that stay true to your personal essence as a woman.
Tall women have options! So look to invest in classic, timeless pieces that you can wear over and over, and style any number of ways. This is what makes MARGE’s Fall/Winter 2015 collection so unique, in that it is extremely versatile. Each piece can be easily interchanged with one another, or can be seamlessly integrated into an existing wardrobe. Tall women are blessed in that they can wear almost anything and look beautiful.
I am always intrigued and impressed by entrepreneurial women, and I’m eternally grateful to the tall women who have bravely started their own clothing lines. What is it like being a female entrepreneur especially in the tall fashion scene? What have been your biggest challenges? What bits of advice do you have for women who are toying with the idea of filling a niche in the tall clothing world by starting their own line?
Kaersten: It is very exciting to be a new brand, let alone in the tall women’s fashion category. Even more exciting, however, is the fact the MARGE is establishing a niche all its own, as the first and only upscale womenswear brand that is reinventing fit for tall. I wanted MARGE to be beautifully different from all other brands and introduce something this niche market has never seen before – designs that are classically inspired and artfully constructed in high-end, custom fabrics. MARGE is the first to extend to tall women everywhere, an invitation to elevate their shopping expectations to a higher plane – to stop settling for less and start asserting their naturally elevated perspectives – a la Life Up Here.
The biggest challenges I have faced as an entrepreneur (I think being a “male” or “female” entrepreneur is irrelevant) have been learning how to ask for help and trusting my instinct.
Whether it’s requesting an introduction, seeking advice from a mentor, or simply delegating a set of tasks to a colleague, one challenge can be learning how to curb hesitancy around “the ask”. Women often have a tendency to question the validity of their own needs or wants because they are concerned with interrupting, being intrusive or other reasons. However, it is important to remember that if you don’t question or delegate, your end goal may never be achieved. There is always a reason why a desire arises, so trust in its value, eschew the hesitancy and ask away.
Although I have asked hundreds of questions throughout the span of my career, as an entrepreneur, another challenge I have faced is whether to ask questions for reassurance sake, or whether to simply trust my intuition. I know many women have had moments where they instantly feel something that can only be defined by a sixth sense. In a professional environment, I believe if women have the ability to embrace this sixth sense, reason with and ultimately follow it, they then carry one of the most powerful decision making tools around. If you trust in yourself, others will too.
My advice for an “on the verge” entrepreneur would be this: Whenever you are contemplating a new direction or endeavor in your life, it is important to take the time to tune into what exactly it is that you want to do and why you want to do it. If you begin a journey that does not authentically speak to who you are, it will be difficult to stick with it when the journey becomes difficult. I would also say, do your research. Do mountains of research. I can’t emphasize this enough. Plan, organize and project. Seek mentors and ask questions. It’s a journey, but with the right support structure and perseverance anything is possible.
Lastly, what will we see next from MARGE?
Kaersten: Well, we are very happy to have opened our digital boutique for tall women everywhere to see and shop our Fall/Winter 2015 Collection via margeclothing.com. We are committed to making it an evolutionary moment for our customers.
I can share that there are a lot of developments in the works as this continues to be an exciting time for MARGE and for tall women everywhere! If you would like to be one of the first to know about company updates and new happenings (hint hint) we suggest signing up for Elevated Perspectives, our e-newsletter or connecting with us on social media to keep the conversation going!
A big thanks to Kaersten for this fun and fascinating interview! I am truly impressed with how much thought, time and effort she has poured into creating MARGE and can’t wait to see not only how it will evolve in the future but also how this luxury line will effect the tall clothing landscape.
Be sure to follow MARGE Clothing on the following social media accounts so that you don’t miss out on any updates. The videos on the YouTube channel are very helpful for showing how the clothing fits and moves.
Which is your favorite MARGE style? What do you think of the concept of a luxury tall clothing line? Do you think it’s important to buy investment pieces?