Veteran Designer Kobi Halperin Launches His Own Line for Bohemians at Any Age
Although you may not know his name, the Israeli-born and raised Kobi Halperin has been working in the fashion industry in New York for 17 years. He was creative director at both Elie Tahari and Kenneth Cole before launching his eponymous line this fall.
Halperin graduated from Tel Aviv’s celebrated Shankar College of Engineering and Design, where he returns to lecture often. His parents are Eastern European; from this lineage he draws the Bohemian-Hungarian influences that enter his luxe clothes by way of loose shapes and embroidered details. He credits his international background with inspiring the global aesthetic of his collection.
We spoke with the calmly passionate Halperin about what it’s like to go out on your own in this competitive industry.
When you’re starting with a new brand, you have a blank canvas. You don’t have any baggage or anything holding you back. Then the disadvantage is that you don’t have a lot of business information from the customer point of view yet. The way I see the business developing is through the customer. Right now we’re doing the introductory period. It’s very exciting. As a designer I spend a lot of time on the floor with the customer. To hear directly from the customer is very exciting.
But I am working with a team of people that have worked with me for many years. It’s very comforting to have my name on the door and for our partners to know that we can accomplish the product. I know about production and finance—how to be able to analyze and to react. So I think the biggest challenge is that with a big company you create a lot—there are a lot of designs. Now the challenge is to be really focused. To do less is a challenge.
What compelled you to start your own label at this time?
For me, after several years you create your name. It was very clearly time to establish my own brand to stay true to who I am and create for this woman that I have become very attached to. It’s not about being famous, but about being able to do what I love with my colleagues.
Who is this woman that you’ve become attached to?
In fashion we’re starting to follow less of the rules. It’s not about age anymore. My customer is not a fashion victim. She can evaluate good product. She gets excited about details and celebrates getting dressed everyday.
There’s no reason why a woman can’t come to work and be boheminan. The rules don’t apply anymore. If she is going to work there is no reason why she can’t wear a beautiful chiffon blouse. She’s sophisticated enough to know how to wear it. She knows how to take these evening details and make them work for the daytime.
Overall for me, the beauty is the imperfections. It’s done by hand. You’re looking at our blouses; they are raw-edged. The lace is almost antiqued in a way. I was born and raised in Israel; both of my parents are from Eastern Europe. So I was inspired by Hungarian influences expecially. From an early age, I learned to appreciate craftsmanship: what is real and fake. Living in Israel in the ’70s was interesting. It was a country of people from all over the world, including many from North African and Arabic countries. That was an amazing inspiration for me as a child.
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