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California Cool

Lauren Murrow | August 5, 2016 | Story Fashion National

When Jenni Kayne launched her eponymous label in 2003, her pointed-toe d’Orsay flats earned a cult following and made Kayne a fashion “it” girl. “It was what I wanted to wear, and other women agreed,” she says. That guiding principle has driven her business ever since, resulting in breezily stylish, trend-shunning clothing—cashmere sweaters, silk slip dresses, pointed-toe mules—as well as a lifestyle blog, Rip & Tan, named after Kayne’s children, Ripley, 5, and Tanner, 7. In July, the Southern California native launched her first Bay Area boutique at Stanford Shopping Center; along with apparel, it carries housewares and beauty products. We chatted with the down-to-earth designer about her own closet, collaborations and West Coast sensibility.

In splitting your time between Los Angeles and Tahoe, how does the idea of California living inspire your designs?
It’s about being laid-back but still chic. We’re classic, timeless and not too trendy.

In addition to Stanford, you’re opening two other boutiques this year, including one in Marin. Why the burst of store openings?
I want to get as close to the customer as possible. In my stores, shoppers get insight into my world in a way they never would when walking into a department store. The retail spaces help me understand what the Jenni Kayne woman wants from me.

Who is the Jenni Kayne woman?
Women seeking an effortless sense of style. I want my clothes to feel special, but not too precious. Especially since having kids—I want to be able to sit on the floor and not worry about my clothes.

How does that concept translate into your own wardrobe?
I’m usually wearing a pair of high-waisted jeans, a sweater or collared shirt, and d’Orsay flats or mules. Less is more.

You’ve collaborated with brands from Pottery Barn and Earth Tu Face to Barton Perreira sunglasses and Marysia swimwear. What’s your strategy when it comes to partnerships?
My philosophy is there’s enough room for everybody to be supersuccessful. If there’s something I’m not doing myself, I want to find experts in those fields and learn from them, whether that’s ceramicists, artists, jewelry designers or chefs.

As the brand has evolved, what’s been your proudest achievement?
The most exciting thing for me is walking into a restaurant and seeing someone wearing my clothes—not out of ego, out of pride. All the other stuff is exciting, but what drives me is seeing women who love my clothes.

Originally published in the July issue of Silicon Valley

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