Introducing R.G. Kane, a Rising L.A. Womenswear Label With an Unstuffy, Boho-Inspired Take on Timeless Fashion

Robert Kane, founder of R.G. Kane and son of designer Karen Kane, on adding joy to the ritual of getting dressed, fashion advice, and favorite L.A. spots.

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A couple of years ago, if you had asked Robert Kane, 31-year-old son of womenswear designer Karen Kane, whether he'd follow in his mother's footsteps, the answer would've been no. Be that as it may, the pull of the fashion industry was too strong. When he realized he wasn't interested in anything he was studying, the L.A. native enrolled in Parsons School of Design. After earning his BFA and designing for several labels in L.A. and New York, he set out — just like his mom did in 1979 — to launch his namesake high-end women's apparel label R.G. Kane.

Having just launched in 2019, the rising brand has already become a favorite among celebrity stylists and worn by the likes of Lana Condor and Heather Morris. With bohemian-inspired California style at its core, R.G. Kane brings women's wardrobes the best of both worlds: classic cuts and head-turning hues and prints. Think elevated effortless essentials like tailored power suits, matching sets, and blouses and dresses in feminine silhouettes. All of which are designed with real life in mind.

Photo: Courtesy of David Ross

"Even a party look should in some way feel a bit comfortable whether that be the way the dress is cut or the fabric it is made from," Robert tells UncoverLA.

Why fashion? Robert's in it to create pieces that inspire and add joy to the daily ritual of getting dressed. Instead of chasing passing trends, Robert believes clothes should be timeless, well-made, and versatile.

Photo: Courtesy of David Ross

Designed and ethically made in L.A., R.G. Kane carefully considers the quality, function, and ecological attributes of its materials. Always working to source and develop environmentally preferred materials, Robert says his goal is to make clothes that both people and the earth can feel good about.

Cali effortlessness meets sexy-cool in the label's fall 2022 collection. Through an exploration of color, styles include soft-tailoring and mango and petal hues of cupro that pair nicely with deeper shades of pumpkin and charcoal. Price points range from $135 to $325.

On the heels of his new fall collection, we spoke with Robert about what it was like growing up in the fashion industry, his creative process, the styling advice he swears by, his top L.A. and Santa Barbara restaurants and shops, and more. Keep reading for the full interview and check out the gallery above to see inside his DTLA facility and pieces from the R.G. Kane fall and winter lookbook.

Photo: Courtesy of David Ross

Tell us about your career and educational background. Have you always been in fashion?
I've grown up in the clothing industry really. For as long as I can remember, I've been surrounded by pattern makers, fabric swatches, or sample sewers because my parents work in the business, and they decided they wanted me at work with them.

When I went to school, I never intended to end up working in fashion, but I quickly realized I wasn't that interested in anything I was studying, which led me to make the decision to transfer to Parsons to study fashion design. From then on, I interned while in school at several different labels and ultimately got a job as a design assistant at a small designer label in L.A., which brought me back home. I worked there for about two years until I decided to start something myself, fortunately with the help and guidance of my parents.

Photo: Courtesy of David Ross

How would you describe R.G. Kane's signature style?
A kind of all-encompassing term would be "California Bohemian." That more or less captures the idea of a well-curated and effortless wardrobe that is both fun and timeless, and ultimately joyful.

How does L.A., if at all, influence your designs?
L.A. influences the way I design in that I don't really want to make stuffy clothes. In my head, even a party look should in some way feel a bit comfortable whether that be the way the dress is cut or the fabric it is made from.

With so many brands relying on overseas manufacturing, it's refreshing to hear R.G. Kane's pieces are designed and made in L.A. Why was this important to you when first starting the brand?
In a lot of ways, manufacturing locally helps when you're a small brand. You get to see the product firsthand much easier, work a lot more closely with the production process, and most importantly we can cut to order. We can cut only what we need and don't need to rely on shipping our collections in, just to ship them all back out again. So, in addition to being more convenient, it's a bit more ecologically sound as well.

Photo: Courtesy of David Ross

How do you advocate for change in society?
Change in society is a huge concept to tackle. In the very specific and small world of working in the clothing industry, I think small acts eventually start to become bigger ones altogether. For instance, as a small label, I can't really make too many demands of my mills to offer more qualities that are sustainable and reasonably priced as well (as a small brand I'm not placing 3000-yard orders for fabrics). However, once I put in that request and other designers and labels do as well, it's possible to see that there is a desire for recycled fibers and other sustainable fabrics to be more readily accessible and for those pillars of design to become the industry standard.

How would you describe your creative process?
I start with a color palette and from there I move into the sketching process. It definitely always starts with the fabrics and sometimes the rest of the fabric selections and colors can be decided because there was one textile that was so special. Once I'm sketching, I'll try to get as many ideas out of what full looks would be and then I work it all into an assortment that makes sense.

Photo: Courtesy of David Ross

How has your work developed over time?
Aesthetically the line has changed a lot. Initially, it was much more boyish and masculine and more neutral in color. I learned to have fun with color and that dipping your toes into some flamboyance, whether that be through color, shine, or the cut of a garment, is really fun.

What is the goal of each of your creative projects?
I want to develop on ideas that I had fun with the season before and see what else can come from them.

What are some of your favorite pieces you've designed?
From Holiday '22, we cut a really gorgeous green dress called the Claudia Dress that is equal parts festive and comfortable. There is also a sequin blazer and skirt set that really stands out as well.

Photo: Courtesy of David Ross

Describe your perfect setting for dreaming up designs.
The perfect scenario would be sitting in my backyard with my computer and the season's swatches nearby. Along with a set of fully loaded mechanical pencils and erasers, that's more or less all the items I need to get going. My dog is usually sitting next to me wherever I am, so she'd likely be next to me, and I'll have my AirPods in listening to whatever recent playlist I made for the season. I'll have that playlist on repeat and sometimes the same song until I finish sketching out the whole assortment.

I read on your mom's blog that you and your brother spent a lot of time in her manufacturing facility growing up. What are some of your earliest memories of being involved with the Karen Kane brand as an adult and how do you think that shaped you?
My earliest memory would have to be from when I was around seven or eight and I made the suggestion to her and her team to put embroidered mesh sleeves on a black jersey top. They ended up doing it and putting it on the line. I remember the feeling of being stoked to see something I thought of made into something real.

Photo: Courtesy of David Ross

R.G. Kane's first fall delivery just dropped online. What plans for the brand's future are you most excited about and what's your ultimate goal for it?
I'm always excited to see the development of the line, and what it ends up looking like season after season. It's weird because you'd think I'd know exactly what it will look like because it's coming from my head, but it's always a nice surprise to see the newness that happens.

Any plans to open a physical store?
Not yet and definitely not for a while. It seems like a huge undertaking and for now there is plenty of other stuff to focus on.

Photo: Courtesy of David Ross

What advice would you give to fashion students or designers who just set out to create a brand?
I would say make sure you know who you are designing for. Whether it be a real-life person you know or a fully realized made-up person who has fake interests and a fake job. Knowing why you're making clothes for a specific person helps so much in giving the garments a purpose.

What's one piece of styling advice you swear by?
Never get rid of sunglasses or jewelry because they'll always come back in style.

You're taking a first-time visitor on a one-day tour of L.A. Where are some of your top stops?
To start, I would grab coffee and scones with them at Broome Street in Silver Lake. Then we'd walk the reservoir. I would then take them to lunch at Found Oyster and then go to Echo Park to shop the thrift stores. We'd then find a pool and relax until it was time to eat again. Dinner would be at Petite Trois in Studio City and then drinks at the Red Lion, ending us up back in Silver Lake.

Photo: Courtesy of David Ross

Other than R.G. Kane, are there any L.A.-based brands you love and think everyone should know about?
It's not really a clothing brand, but Little Fish Echo Park is the some of the best seafood you'll have in L.A.

For Angelenos booking a Santa Barbara staycation, what are some must-try spots you'd recommend?
If you're able to get a reservation at Lucky's, you need to have a steak and martini. You also have to visit Summerland to check out the antique stores there, there are often some hidden treasures.

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