Interview with KM by LANGE’s Kati Lange
K M by L A N G E is a brand for women made by women - it is ethical and fair, made from high quality sourced materials and is produced locally in a small workshop of highly craftswomen in Vinnitsa, Ukraine. I talked to K M by L A N G E’s designer Kati Lange about her empowering brand, ethical values,
Where does the name KM by LANGE come from?
K M by L A N G E is a very personal name. Lange is my surname, K is an initial letter of my name and M is an initial letter of my sister name who was in the project when we launched it.
What inspired you to start a brand for women, handcrafted by women?
My background comes from experience in the fast fashion industry which has a big impact on the future of the planet and also when you see the situation from the inside it affects you a lot and makes you reconsider a lot of things in your life.
Since that experience I wanted to create my own business, something noble, ethic, mindful and sustainable, which really makes sense. I also wanted to work with the craftswomen in my country. I am originally from Ukraine and now we work with small workshops in the city I was born and raised.
What does empowerment mean to you?
Empowerment is something really mental, its inner force which permits you to get in life what you have the courage to ask for. I also think the beauty of empowerment consists in your ability to empower others.
What’s the one slogan you would put on one of your pieces if you could?
Actually we have some slogans for K M by L A N G E. They are “handmade by women for women” and “less is more”.
You are concerned for the right compensation for all women artisans involved, would you be able to talk more about this?
The right compensation for all women artisans involved in the manufacturing of our cloth is one of our ethic principles. It consists in advanced decent payment and also slow ethic manufacturing process. We don’t focus on quantity, but on quality and we strongly believe that good things take time. Some of the craftswomen we work with are 75 and we are very proud to support such kind of treasure women with absolutely unique experience.
Why are quality materials so important to you?
Materials are very important because it’s another way of sustainability. We mostly use natural materials: organic cotton, raw linen, virgin wool or silk. We also have “babushka capsule” where we use vintage materials, which my “babushka” ( grandmother in Ukrainian) ) somehow managed to get during Soviet Union period, almost always thanks to knowing the right people. The fabrics that she reached were designed in state-run fashion houses, vetted as to their conformity with Communist ideals. To give credit where it is due though, it should be said that many of those fabrics were of excellent quality.
Your pieces are made to last, to be timeless and to be loved. Do you have any advice to people who want to create a more timeless, quality wardrobe?
Buy less and buy better. I highly recommend to consume less, but select pieces with a high strict criteria, focus on quality and timeless design.
Coats, blazers and even blouses could be designs which you can pass through generations and it’s very beautiful when someone wears one of grandma’s pieces, for example. Stay classy here and chose clean minimalistic design.
Also I advise to know the story of the brand before buying something from them - when you buy something you vote with your money for some ideas or special model of business. Vintage clothing is also a sustainable way of consumption.
Where does your inspiration come from when designing new pieces?
The inspirations comes from everything, there is no unique source of it. It comes from music, streets, trips, books and art...
Recently I get a lot of inspiration from traditions of my country and also from my mum looks in the 90s.
What item of clothing sums up K M by L A N G E the most and why?
I think the item which sums up our brand the most is the Motanka dress (pictured right). This model is versatile, based totally on layering and inspired by traditional Ukrainian “zapaska” skirt and “krayka” belt. It’s an ode to our roots and culture.
Now for some quick fire questions:
Beige or pastels?
No beige, no pastels, always nude...
Less or more?
Of course less, because less is more.
Beach or city?
Beach but only deserted one in no touristic place with difficult access to it.
Suit or dress?
Suit - we love a little bit of gentleman’s touch for women.
Runway or street?