Norma Kamali

Jasmine Dy

Shop Norma Kamali Collection

Norma Kamali Collection

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You can care the least about designer brands but you’d still be familiar with Norma Kamali creations even without being aware of it. You can spot the clothes on eBay, where the rare, vintage ones can be found, at random boutiques but without the label, and most surprisingly of all, at your local Walmart.

If not the designs, then the signature fabrics like jersey and other wrinkle-resistant textiles would immediately give away that the pieces come from Norma Kamali. The brand’s foundation lies on the desire to offer clothing that touches on every part of a woman’s life including fitness, beauty, style, and professional life. As with any other brand, Norma Kamali focuses of creating clothes that empower women, make them feel beautiful and confident and, at the same time, something that they’d be comfortable in and would want to wear for a long time.

The woman behind the brand

Norma Kamali Designer

The brand’s success is backed by the brilliance and education of its namesake founder. Kamali built the brand from her innate affinity for outrageous dressing, an evolved habit of reselling vintage clothes from around Europe in the United States, and the knowledge she acquired when she studied illustration at the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.

This produced an invention that was years ahead of its time: athleisure. Norma Kamali was the first to offer active sportswear as an everyday clothing. It’s the reason we have retro sporty outfits to look back on and emulate to be on-trend these days. Following athleisure, Norma Kamali is also a pioneer of designing swimwear pieces.

Iconic creations

Norma Kamali pieces are tied to some pop culture references because of the impressive lineup of celebrities who’ve worn the brand. On top of the list is the famous Farah Fawcett poster from the ‘80s where she was wearing a fiery red one-piece swimsuit. At the time, at least 12 million copies of those had been sold and today, the p oster is now situated at the Smithsonian Insitute. The first swimwear designs are both modest and revealing because of the gold lamé used for maillots or one-piece swimsuits.

Their drawstring parachute jumpsuit drew attention much like the poster. Made from actual material used for parachutes, the jumpsuit was included in an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of the Arts in New York in 1977. A whole other collection exists that incorporates the parachute material and makes it high fashion.

Other iconic pieces from the brand are not immortalized in the same way on famous posters or showcased at a prestigious museum but most of them have stood the test of time to become signature pieces. There’s the sleeping bag coat–a down-filled quilted jacket that was inspired by an actual sleeping bag. The high-heeled sneakers came from the brand’s goal to give women apparel, including shoes, that would go with just about any occasion or setting. The shoes are a pair of durable pair of pumps leveled up by the lace-up detail across the foot that ties up to the legs.

Some of those signature pieces like the parachute material and sleeping bag coat earned that status for the relentless design that continues to evolve collection after collection.

Model posing at the rooftop of Tides hotel for Norma Kamali Collection.
Model posing at the rooftop of Tides hotel for Norma Kamali Collection. Credit:

Catering to all price points and direct connection with customers

How the sleeping bag coat came to be is one of a witty story. The concept sprouted during one of the camping trips after Kamali’s divorce, when she thought of putting sleeves on the sleeping bag she brought with her when she got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. That kind of carefreeness and nonchalance gives the brand flexibility to produce collections that are don’t look like it’s trying too hard.

It’s further reinforced when Norma Kamali partners with Walmart, which has had a fair share of disastrous clothing collections. This is how the brand applies inclusivity by offering clothes that cater to all price points and different kinds of people. Despite it not being the go-to choice for clothes shopping, the sporty clothes which Norma Kamali supplies them are bestsellers.

This is the perfect time to dish out on their Resort and Spring collections for 2018 as high-cut swimsuits, trendy color-blocked activewear and airy wide-leg trousers are the brand-new additions, apart from their signature jersey separates, sleeping bag coats (these are almost never missing), and velvet and goddess-like dresses.

Style that earned rewards and celebrity admiration

The brand had been around in the booming fashion cultures starting from the ‘60s through to the ‘90s and it has allowed them the advantage of having mastered the retro trends at a time when they were just the natural style.

Some of the awards Norma Kamali has garnered over the years come from Fashion Walk of FameCouncil of Fashion Designers of America, and the Coty American Fashion Critics. Most of the credit goes to the direct connection built with customers through social media and their unconventional partnerships to be the one that keeps the brand alive and relevant to their customers, the likes of which include Lady Gaga, Queen B (Beyonce, in case you even need clarification), Khloe Kardashian, and Miley Cyrus.

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