The sisters behind Kiwi fashion label Ketz-ke have launched a new label aimed at Millennial women, Leo+Be. With 29 years in the fashion industry, co-founders Jenny Drury and Brenda Wilkinson look forward to a fresh start while tapping into the networks they've established. Drury discussed Leo+Be with The Register.
You mentioned Leo+Be will be stocked by around 50 retailers, many of which are existing Ketz-ke stockists and some of which are new. Can you tell us how the connections you’ve made through Ketz-ke are supporting this?
We have been working with many of our New Zealand retailers for over ten years now, and they have come to know us for quality assurance and reliability. We are so fortunate to have their trust and support for our business, and this meant that we were able to approach many of our existing Ketz-ke stockists with the new brand.
Leo+Be has provided us with an opportunity to attract a fresh and different customer base too, so we approached some new retailers as a result. Overall, the response to the debut collection from our existing and new stockists has been phenomenal, so we’re excited to see a steady climb in Leo+Be’s stockist numbers over the next year or so.
How does Leo+Be complement Ketz-ke? Do you anticipate any customer movement between the brands?
While Leo+Be is a younger sister to Ketz-ke, the two have very separate identities. Much like Ketz-ke, the Leo+Be girl wants to stand out, but she aspires to her own style rather than her big sister’s.
Ketz-ke provides kiwi women with evolving style options that sees them dressed with a little edge as well as functionality and wearability for work and leisure. Leo+Be is a collection of youthful, approachable basics and playful pieces in feminine tones and shapes to suit the kiwi girl-next-door. Naturally our customer may discover that the two are related, and we welcome her to shop her unique style across both labels.
What’s Leo+Be's point of difference against existing offerings in the youth market?
We know the young fashion lover in New Zealand to be bold and trend-led, yet we’re also mindful that she is focussed on affordable, versatile fashion. Leo+Be strikes a balance by staying authentic to our Kiwi roots, and presents a collection of ever changing must-haves to the girl seeking mix and match pieces with flair.
It seems to be tapping into a number of established trends (e.g. cold-shoulder shirts, cactus print). Tell us about the decisions behind selecting which trend to reference?
We like to acknowledge international runway and street style trends, however we pick and choose as relevant to our market. Myself and my design partner sister Brenda both have a keen eye and passion for designing garments that we know New Zealand women and girls will love to wear.
Between the two of us we’ve explored all aspects of the local industry over our 29 years’ experience in the business, from working on the shop floor, to being on the road as sales reps, to design. We know the styles, shapes, prints and fabrics that the Kiwi shopper knows and loves, as well as those she might be willing to try, so we tailor each collection with this Kiwi customer in mind.
Tell us about how Leo+Be works between Jenny and Brenda. Are there separate responsibilities or is every process collaborative?
Brenda and I are not only great friends who share a love for design and fashion, we are sisters! I own the business, however we both lead the design. Every part of our process is collaborative - from the drawing board, to travelling the world to source fabrics, to how we market the range for our retailers. As sisters, we have the advantage of being able to argue until we get the best result!