In a sea of same-same WFH ‘fits that revolve around sweatsuits and loungewear, Kim Gordon’s Selkie commands attention. Despite most of us staying at home for work and play, business is booming for this indie brand and its party-ready designs. Why? A quick peek at the cotton candy hues and Marie Antoinette-meets-Instagram it girl silhouette shows exactly how the label has found a forever fan base. Below, Gordon tells the Daily all about her signature powdery-pink puff dresses and the passionate story behind the scenes of her fledgling brand.
Tell us about your fashion and design background?
Kim Gordon: When I was young I wanted to be a film director. Or a doll designer! Film was a brutal world and, at the time, all male. After six years of filming my whole life, I was discouraged out of it day-by-day in Los Angeles. Toys required full schooling and a degree, and I didn’t have the grades or money to go to college. Fashion was sort of this weird fall back plan; my teachers and peers loved how I styled myself and friends and I drew clothes a ton. Especially wedding dresses! You can see how I eventually managed to tell stories with real life girls, in a way combining all three passions. Finally, after some experience working in fashion, when I was just 23-years-old, my childhood best friend and I quit our jobs to start our own clothing line: Wildfox. We found a partner to finance it and it was just crazy times from there on out. Nine years into Wildfox, my partner decided he wanted to take the brand in a “new direction” and as a young girl, I hadn’t made strong enough partnership contracts to protect myself from this. I was on my own again. I’d lost it all in a flash. But even at the end of Wildfox, while I was there I was depressed and needed to get out, I was aching to do more.
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Selkie girls dress up for Isolation 💕 [Selkie muse, Angelina, a Colombian curve model with light olive skin and very dark brown hair sits alone on the edge of a giant aquamarine fountain. She’s wearing the Selkie pink puff dress with giant sleeves and a proofed skirt, it is quite a romantic scene and she’s wearing cherub inspired makeup designed by Stella Kae. She has a look of boredom and she tilts her head, which is adorned with a giant crown of pink roses.]
Wow. So then you decided to launch your own venture, Selkie?
It took me about a year to grieve losing my first brand. It was so scary because during that process I had to work odd jobs to make ends meet for the first time since my 20s! It was a really dark time. I listened to the book Helter Skelter on my three-hour commute to work to take my mind off of it. I was so empty, I couldn’t be creative, I couldn’t paint or draw. As I began to heal, I painted the little mermaid being strangled for her voice… it just came pouring out one day. I felt such a connection to that story of the mermaid—a young girl giving it all up for what she desperately wanted and then just dissolving into foam after all! I’ve always been obsessed with folklore and as I freed myself from this pain I began to relate more to the Selkie. I thought about all the women out there that have been trapped, soul searching, starting over, the women who had their dreams crushed, and how they must be like me looking for themselves again. I wanted to make a brand that was exciting and playful, and make women celebrate who they are inside. I wanted it to be this bold skin of freedom for the sisterhood; something I never quite got to build at Wildfox.
How did lockdown affect your brand?
Actually it somehow helped my brand because DTC was booming (wholesale was another story, a selfish collapsing disaster with major losses for small brands!) I think because more and more people started looking at social and their phones, they were abandoning these crazy big retailers and exploring small brands, and because they were craving making art using their own bodies, they started shopping for my popular puff dress. I think the puff dress brings joy in this horrible time.
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Late mornings in the Dream girl dress [Selkie muse, Sparkle, a gorgeous model with long limbs and a babydoll face, sits on the floor of a mid century modern bedroom next to walls made of wood and a very dreamy vanity. She is spread out on light carpet wearing an ankle length, turquoise Selkie dress. The print is inspired by Miami interiors of the 1980s. The sleeves are short and puffy. Light pours in from a set of vertical blinds covering a sliding glass door.]
What kept you inspired to keep creating beautiful garments, like the puff dresses, during lockdown?
My fans are really unique, they are constantly teaching me how to grow and be better. Them, and my incredible manufacturer really inspired me to keep pushing.
Why do you think people are still seeking out romantic fabrics and silhouettes, despite being predominantly at home?
I think people are looking for some sort of escapism through visual imagery, but mostly I think people are looking for social connection and when you can connect on social media it helps with the community we are all craving. When we go out to bars and restaurants, part of that experience is dressing up and showing yourself off! Right now, there is literally no way to do that except through Instagram.
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This crazy talented girl. @asiamonetray on her birthday 🎂 wearing her Selkie peony gown. [selkie influencer, Asia Monet Ray, an American gymnast and singer, crouches in the grass with baby goats smiling up into the sky. She has a giant smile and her long braids spill onto her white and pink gown, which has straps that tie at the shoulders.]
Selkie is rare for a small indie brand as it goes up to size 5X. How integral is body positivity to Selkie?
I wouldn’t say it’s body positivity that’s integral to my brand, it’s not the basis of Selkie. I want body positivity for all women and I strongly believe in it and the movement. Long before the movement, I had wanted to integrate it into Wildfox, but couldn’t, so obviously I have a pretty expanded array of sizing now and I do love all the fans that wear it. But for me, it’s bigger than bodies, it’s more about wxmen embracing the story of themselves and their own myth and fantasy. I want to ignite women to feel powerful enough to live their stories with pride, to change their lives with imagination, to get back up and go for it. Clothing is one of the greatest tools we have to express ourselves, and I think that accessible pastel, nostalgic voice was lacking in fashion before Selkie. I aim to continue to fill this [void], and to help these unique wxmen who might have lost themselves to start sharing who they are with the world.