Vogue UK Article - Karla Welch: "I Want To Be A Brand That Walks The Talk"
Karla Welch is a woman with real pulling power. One of Hollywood’s leading stylists – Tracee Ellis Ross, Ruth Negga, Amber Heard, Karlie Kloss and Sarah Paulson all have her on speed dial – she used her bulging black book of contacts as a platform to launch her own brand, xkarla, two years ago.
xkarla – named after the way the stylist signs off her emails – kicked off with a collection of white T-shirts in collaboration with Hanes. “I did it as a way to go after and create my own opportunities rather than wait on brands to approach me,” she told Vogue. “I wanted to explore more than just styling. It's a chance for me to create products and create all the creative around the products.”
Now, after a hectic awards season, Welch is back with her next project in partnership with Levi Strauss & Co. In honour of the brand's pseudo-holiday, 501 Day, on May 20, she has reimagined the brand’s 501 jeans and a handful of other denim staples, including a reversible Sherpa jacket, boiler suit, Western shirt, oversized cropped Trucker, and leather fringe Trucker – the latter rather fabulously is rooted in her childhood fascination with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
Naturally, she called on her clients and friends to help model her indigo wares, and the campaign is an A-Z of Hollywood’s elite, plus a handful of successful, super-cool music artists. Amber Heard, Amber Valletta, Hailey Baldwin, Yara Shahidi, Tracee Ellis Ross, America Ferrera, SZA, Karen O, Lisa Love and SoKo all feature in the portraits, and there's a bonus video to the sounds of Yoko Ono’s “Yang Yang”.
When asked whether she ever imagined she’d be riffling through Levi’s archive, seeing her designs plastered across America’s billboards, and dressing “women who represent themselves to the fullest,” she says, “honestly, yes. I sort of know what path I’m on, and I’m putting in the work to do it.”
It’s a smart partnership for both brand and super-stylist. Welch has a loyal client list to wear and promote her designs, and she can offer up valuable expertise on exactly what her clients actually want to wear. Her tie-ups are not rooted in Instagram likes or her bank balance, but “what makes something both democratic and iconic.”
Her democratic vision extends to philanthropy, and she is driven to make a difference. “This is my purpose: to take what I do creatively and use it for social change.” Accordingly, Levi’s is making a donation to her charity of choice, the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. “When I’m forming partnerships I’m clear from the get go that this is my brand ethos and that I want a piece of the product to go to a specific charity, which is always changing.”
Though she won’t disclose which “icons” she’ll collaborate with next, her mission statement – "I want to be a brand that walks the talk and I want to influence others to do the same” – will see brands lining up around the block.
Hypebae Article - SZA, Hailey Baldwin and More Star in Levi's x karla 501 Day Collection
By Tora Northman
To celebrate Levi’s® 501® Day, the label has tapped names like SZA, Hailey Baldwin, Busy Phillips, Tracee Ellis Ross and more to star in a portrait campaign featuring pieces from the collection that you can peep in the gallery above. In honor of the collection, Levi’s® is also making a donation to Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. In addition, Karla Welch will also be hosting an in-store event in Santa Monica on May 20, where customers will be able to purchase and customize iconic 501® pieces. If you’re looking to get your hands on a pair of the iconic denim jeans, they retail between $59 and $69 USD online at Levi.com.
People Article - Stylist Karla Welch Tapped a Ton of Big-Name Stars to Model Her New Levi's Collaboration
Stylist Karla Welch works with just about every big-name Hollywood star you can think of: Busy Philipps, Sarah Paulson, Tracee Ellis Ross, and that’s just naming a few. So to celebrate her new collaboration of jeans, jackets and shirts with Levi’s, she called on her famous friends (and Yoko Ono!) to help her debut her designs. And it resulted in one absolutely epic video.
Welch is extending her “x Karla” concept (she did a collaboration of white tees with Hanes last year) with Levi’s to coincide with Levi’s 501 Day – a celebration of the 145th birthday of the original blue jean. And she put her own modern/vintage twist on classic denim jeans, jackets and shirts for her Levi’s x karla line.
“I wanted to imagine what the future of vintage was,” Welch said in a press release about her collection. “If people inhabit Mars 200 years from now, what are the kids going to wear? This idea of creating something that would eventually become an iconic piece of vintage clothing is the basis of the whole collection.”
To find inspiration, she tapped into her own vintage past as well. For example, the fringe Trucker jacket was designed for her childhood love of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and her wide-leg and pleated jeans were inspired after combing through the Levi’s archives.
“Her spin on our most iconic pieces brilliantly combines the past and the energy of the future,” said Karyn Hillman, Chief Product and Merchandising Officer Global Brands. “She really played with the proportions and the details, both the familiar and the unexpected — they are fresh yet simple and effortless. And hopefully, in the process, we will have created some future vintage pieces.”
To check out all nine pieces, watch the video, above. You’ll spot all her new designs and a ton of celebrity cameos. You’ll find Yara Shahidi, Michelle Monaghan, Busy Philipps, Sarah Paulson, Holland Taylor, Tracee Ellis Ross, America Ferrera, SZA, Amber Heard, Amber Valletta, Hailey Baldwin, Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman and 17 other famous faces throughout the video. Like we said, the lineup is impressive!
Welch’s star style squad dances along to the 1973 song, “Yang Yang,” by Yoko Ono, which was donated by the singer to support Everytown, a movement to end gun violence. (Levi’s will be making a donation to the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund in honor of the collection. And while they’re not disclosing the dollar amount, it will be a flat donation that exceeds total US profit.)
And if you thought that video was major, wait! There’s more!
Welch also tapped a few friends to help her demonstrate customization techniques in fun how-to videos. She showed Phillips how to bedazzle a jean jacket, she taught the ladies of Little Big Town how to add fringe to their Tucker jackets and also demonstrated stenciling and spray paint techniques in the video series.
And to really blow the debut out of the water, she asked her friend, supermodel Amber Valletta, to model the entire collection in a short video (below), giving everyone a sneak peek of what they can expect when the line launches on May 20.
Vogue Article - Karla Welch Launches Her Levi’s Collaboration With a Little Help From Yoko Ono
As the most iconic piece of clothing of all time, Levi’s 501s have a rich history. Indeed, people have been customizing their 501s since the very beginning—and the beginning was a long time ago: Levi’s received its rivet-pocket patent on May 20, 1873. To commemorate this year’s Levi’s 501 Day on May 20, the brand has partnered with Karla Welch, stylist to Tracee Ellis Ross, Sarah Paulson, and Justin Bieber. For Welch, who launched her “x Karla” concept of democratic essentials last year with Hanes, the collaboration means reinventing not just what vintage looks like, but reimagining what the future of vintage could be.
“Everything is very much idea-based,” Welch says of the development of the new nine-piece collection, which has some of its roots in her childhood. An abbreviated pair of banded-hem knickers look like something she wore as a little girl growing up in British Columbia, and the fringe detailing on the sleeves of a trucker jacket are a nod to Welch’s favorite Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. An exaggerated wide-leg silhouette and a pleated style, meanwhile, take their cues from the time Welch spent mining the brand’s expansive vintage archives.
Opting to work with only the original indigo, Welch makes the point that you have to break in your favorite 501s. “You wear your jeans and you get a story out of them,” she remarks. As for putting new spins on the classic, Levi’s global CMO Jen Sey concedes that after years of trepidation around this type of partnership, leaning into reinvention is the future for Levi’s. “Our collaborators want to work with our most classic products and it’s a way to keep them fresh and new and timeless.”
Timeless, and timely. Welch’s clients star in the campaign alongside other women she admires including SZA and Yara Shahidi. The video features the track “Yang Yang,” donated by Yoko Ono in support of Everytown for Gun Safety. It dates to 1973, was originally released on the album Approximately Infinite Universe, and features the lines: “And leave your private institution/Get down to real communication/Leave your scene of destruction/And join us in revolution.” At Welch’s request, Levi’s is also making a donation to the gun-control organization. “It’s really about equal rights to safety, and while we’re not proscribing an answer, we do want to support the conversation,” Sey said of the company’s support of the cause.
The Levi’s x Karla 501 Day Collection will be available on 501 Day–May 20–in select Levi’s stores, Levi.com, and Dover Street Market New York. #LEVIS #XKARLA #EVERYTOWN
NY Times Article - Jeans of the Future
By Hayley Phelan
Karla Welch Reinvents the 501 Jeans
For Karla Welch, who was crowned the most powerful celebrity stylist by The Hollywood Reporter just last year, collaborating with Levi’s is a culmination of a love affair with the 501 jeans that began nearly 30 years ago.
“When I was 13, I stole my brother’s 501s,” said Ms. Welch, who grew up in a small town in coastal British Columbia. “They were way too big on me, so I would roll the waist. No one was wearing that kind of thing, but I remember this exchange student from Italy, who was very fashion, was like, ‘I like your jeans.’ I was so excited to get her approval!”
Ms. Welch has come a long way since then — her clients Justin Bieber, Ruth Negga and Sarah Paulson — but she has channeled that same risk-taking ingenuity into a nine-piece capsule to celebrate the 145th anniversary of 501 jeans. Highlights include two souped-up versions of the 501s — one with a red patent leather back pocket, another in a wide-leg flare cut — a boiler suit and a fringed leather trucker jacket.
“I was just thinking about stuff that I wanted,” said Ms. Welch, who worked exclusively with a dark indigo denim to channel what she described as a “vintage of the future” aesthetic. And speaking of the future, in honor of the collection, Levi’s is making a donation to support the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. “I’m really excited about that part of it,” she said. Her 13-year-old self likely would be, too.
Levi's® x karla DIY Customization Tips Video Series
Learn how to appliqué on your Levi’s® 501’s.
Watch our DIY customization tips featuring x karla with super stylist, costume designer and Academy Award Nominee Arianne Phillips.
Learn how to bedazzle your Levi’s® 501’s.
Watch our DIY customization tips featuring x karla with queen of crafting and bedazzling expert Busy Phillips.
Learn how to add fringe to your Levi’s® 501 Trucker Jacket.
Watch our DIY customization tips featuring x karla with Little Big Town members, Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman.
Learn how to make a boilersuit with your Levi’s® 501’s.
Watch our DIY customization tips featuring x karla with Levi's Head of Design and legendary Jonathan Cheung.
Learn how to stencil on your Levi’s® 501's.
Watch our DIY customization tipsfeaturing x karla with stylist Samantha McMillen.
Share your custom Levi’s® designs with us!
Use @xkarla #xkarla #501day #everytown
Get a first look at the exclusive collaboration below — featuring Amber Valletta, actress, model and friend of Karla — before it launches this week.
In honor of Levi’s 501 Day, Karla Welch has teamed up with Levi’s to put her own creative spin on a number of Levi’s classics—including the iconic Trucker jacket, and the even more iconic 501. “It’s all very customization focused,” says Welch of the collaboration, which she hopes will inspire others to dream up creative new ways to customize their Levi’s. “They’re original designs based on the restraints of utilizing a 501 or an existing Levi’s pattern.”
Along with two new versions of the 501—a wide-leg flare version and an original version with a shiny red patent leather back pocket—the collection includes a reversible Sherpa jacket, a boiler suit, a pleated jean, a red pocket Western shirt, an oversized cropped Trucker, and, of course, the leather fringe Trucker. Most of the pieces come in dark indigo denim—a nod to the idea that these pieces represent the future, rather than the present, of vintage clothing. “I wanted to imagine what the future of vintage was,” says Welch. “If people inhabit Mars 200 years from now, what are the kids going to wear? This idea of creating something that would eventually become an iconic piece of vintage clothing is the basis of the whole collection.”
Of course, there’s plenty of classic vintage influence as well. The Levi’s x karla Fringe Trucker, for instance, was inspired by Karla’s own childhood love of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. And then there are the 1970s-esque Levi’s x karla Wide Leg 501s and Levi’s x karla Pleated Jeans, both of which take cues from vintage pieces Karla found while exploring the Levi’s archives. “It has this juxtaposition between vintage—the old, the familiar—and this future facing thing,” says Jonathan Cheung, Head of Design for Levi’s Strauss & Co. “And her riffing on the proportions propels this into the future. And hopefully, in the process, we will have created some future vintage pieces.”
Ultimately, though, it’s all about showcasing the incredible bandwidth of something as enduring as the Levi’s 501. “Good design always lasts,” says Welch. “I think it’s probably the most iconic piece of clothing there is. And it will withstand the test of time.”
*Levi’s® is proud to partner with Karla Welch on an exclusive 501® Day collection. In honor of this collection, Levi’s® is making a donation to support the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund.