Fri 17th July

Take a Tour of KARA’s Universal Collection

Text   Dino Bonacic

In a push to expand the reach of her biggest hits, KARA’s creative director Sarah Law launched a capsule of accessories fit for everybody (and every body).

When designing a line of accessories, the biggest challenge for a brand is to create an object that will not only be recognisable and desirable, but also timeless. And with the market for contemporary-priced bags bigger than ever, that challenge has also never been difficult. But this has never been an issue for Sarah Law, the founder and creative director of New York-based KARA. Sarah first launched the brand in 2013 with a clear, yet ambitious task of creating bags that will be recognised as hers without the presence of a logo and therefore become that wardrobe staple that goes beyond seasons or styles. One of her OG best-sellers was a classic black leather backpack with a statement zip going across the top – it was one of those luxury pieces that would constantly pop up on street style blogs (remember those?) as much as it did on actual streets. Soon after, KARA became part of the first boom of contemporary-priced luxury accessories which weren’t just a cash-cow for big fashion houses but also industry players in their own rights.

Few years ago, KARA 2.0 was born, as Sarah herself dug deep into her dual cultural background in order to find the need for creating a community of like-minded, yet very diverse people all of which used her accessories as tools in their creative self-expression. Instead of constantly trying to come up with new products people will love, the brand’s focus shifted on creating an open environment full of interactive relationships. As part of that evolution, they also launched #KARAyouBEyou – an ongoing collaborative project that gives global creatives a chance to interpret the classic-with-a-twist accessories through their own individual stories – everyone from nail master Juan Alvear to digital collage artist Anna Mala took part. One of the latest chapters of #KARAyouBEyou comes courtesy of Dutch “sci-fi artist” Esmay Wagemans who uses life-size moulds to create body sculptures out of unconventional materials – it’s kinda like human prosthetics with a fabulous twist. The two have already collaborated, but this chapter is quite monumental as it marks the official launch of KARA’s Universal Collection, which Esmay captured around her melting colourful bodies. 

KARA Universal Collection by Esmay Wagemans

“Since launching the Bike Wallet, we’ve received a lot of requests from customers looking for longer chain lengths in our best selling styles. The Universal Collection is a capsule of styles designed to fit a larger range of body types,” explains Sarah via Zoom from NYC. Consisting from four styles, all in black – the Bike Wallet with two different colour chains (shiny silver and matte black), as well as the Large Bike Wallet and the Bi-Fold Wallet. “Styles and colours are genderless and for all people – while this initial set of styles was launched as a unique capsule that allow us to reach a new group of unisex customers, we see these pieces fitting into our main line seamlessly,” she adds.

While the KARA ethos has always been about “celebrating dynamic forms of identity,” this new launch is a clear move towards an even more significant dialogue between the brand and its audience. “This always had a big influence on the creative process because real people and experiences are the inspiration for the brand,” Sarah says, adding how it all comes down to her experience as growing up mixed-race in Hong Kong with connections to a lot of different communities. She also relates this feeling to the one she has to pursue when running the brand. “On one hand, my job is heavily influenced by creative thought, and on the other I need to be entrepreneurial and business-minded. I am inspired by all the complexities found within an individual as well as the wide spectrum of diversity found amongst us. We are always looking for different and new examples of this experience around the world.” 

You can shop the KARA Universal Collection online at shop.karastore.com.

@kara