Karla Welch is responsible for the red carpet wardrobes of Tracee Ellis Ross, Olivia Wilde, Sarah Paulson, and Anita Hill (yes!) — but for her latest project, the L.A.-based celebrity stylist is turning to her eye to a brand famed for bringing business-cazh culture to offices in the '90s. She's teaming with Dockers for a capsule collection of gender-free range of khaki essentials inspired by everything from her uncle's style to coastal living.
Priced from $60 to $600, the seven-piece Dockers x Karla range is comprised of a bucket hat, belt bag, wide-leg and tapered pants, and a water-repellent trench coat. Rounding out the line is a relaxed crew neck tee ($150) inspired by the 1970s style of Welch's uncle Bruno and an oversized button-down shirt ($180). The entire line features unisex sizing from XXS to XXL, too.
Fronting the campaign is Mackenzie Davis (who's also one of Welch's clients), while the stylist-turned-designer's husband, photographer Matthew Welch, lensed the beachfront shoot.
Here, we caught up with Welch and Levi Strauss & Co. chief product officer Karyn Hillman to find out more about their fondest Dockers memories, what it was like working with each other, and more. Read on below, then shop the full collection online at xkarla.com or in L.A. at Dover Street Market in Downtown.
What are your fondest memories of Dockers in the '90s/2000s?
Karla Welch: I'm not sure if I'd even say I have fond memories, ha! It's more I love the history of khaki and its many iterations and wanted to put my spin on it.
Karyn Hillman: Dockers was born in 1986 and grew really quickly throughout the '90s. It was an exciting time for the brand because we defied current standards and defined the ultimate and new 'business casual.' We offered an alternative option to how guys could dress Monday through Friday, and that quickly evolved beyond the office and into everyday life. I love effortless, easy wardrobe staples and the khaki pant is one of them and I immediately think of Dockers and our khaki authority.
How did the campaign featuring Mackenzie Davis come about?
KW: She's my client and friend, and someone who I nervously want to try my pieces on because I think she has a keen sense of style. [I trust] the Mackenzie Radar!
What specifically drew you to each of the specific Dockers pieces to revamp in your capsule?
KW: The campaign was about my memories of growing up and spending lots of time at the beach, not in a leisure sort of way but more in a way of reflective solitude, which one gets when you connect with nature. It's what I want to wear; what I want my husband, Matthew, to wear. The idea that it's free for anyone to have a relationship with — not specific to how you identify but more just what you want to wear.
KH: Karla brought Mackenzie into the project when we were discussing how to visually express what the collaboration stands for. It's a reflection of Karla's past, her own khaki nostalgia and her connection to the beach and nature. We love how Mackenzie exudes strength and confidence, both very much a part of the Dockers' DNA. The gender neutrality of the product promotes inclusion, which also aligns with Dockers own values as a brand.
Karyn, what was it like for Levi's and Dockers to work with Karla?
Like other projects with Karla, it was totally hands on. We met at our Eureka Innovation Lab in San Francisco for design sessions, and outside the lab, we were in touch about every little detail. Karla is very clear about her vision, which gives the collaboration its unique and thorough qualities. We collaborated around everything from fit to fabric and ensured that each piece had personality. The goal of this collaboration was stylish staples that will withstand the test of time.
Karla, you always have a strong socially-conscious tie-in with your collabs. What organization are you partnering with this time around?
KW: The Trevor Project! In honor of this collection, Dockers® will be making a donation to The Trevor Project.
Karla, who do you envision wearing your Dockers collab?
KW: Anyone who wants to. I can't wait to see!
Shop the full Dockers x Karla collection at xkarla.com and in L.A. at Dover Street Market in Downtown.