Designers weave together luxury and technology at Kit and Ace
Kit and Ace is the new clothing brand on the block turning heads. JJ Wilson, co-founder and head of brand, along with Shannon Wilson, co-founder and creative director, are bringing a whole new meaning to the function and feel of clothing for men and women.
“It really came from a love of fabric design and specifically technical fabric design,” says JJ. “We were looking at how the world was changing and how people were adding technology into their clothing and their apparel which is something that Shannon and I both have a very strong background in.”
Each garment has a luxurious element of cashmere. In a previous life, Shannon specialized in working with synthetic fibres, so they wanted to venture into new territory exploring natural luxurious fibres.
“It was a little bit daunting of a task,” says JJ because cashmere tends to shrink and pill. After two years of product testing, they created and trademarked Technical Cashmere, giving it properties such as stretch, machine washability without shrinking and seaming in areas on the clothing where there is not too much movement.
Having only been in business for the past nine months, Kit and Ace has opened seven locations across Canada and the United States with Calgary’s 17th Avenue Pop-Up Studio location as one of them. There are plans for a permanent 17th Avenue flagship store to be open by fall.
All stores have five key elements created by local talent: the 8-by-8 foot supper club table made from ash wood with a white wash and copper detailing, the lighting fixtures, the cash wrap, the iconic photo of the local city and local art which cycles out every three months in a section of the store called “The Wall.”
To further expose and support local artists on a global scale, they feature an artist’s work on the Kit and Ace website in a section called The Wall Dot Com. “That’s something that was really important to Shannon and I because we’re both very fond of art and artists; it’s something that’s a passion of ours that we wanted to build into our stores,” says JJ.
Currently, Asim Haque’s iconic shot of downtown Calgary from upside down and Danielle Bartlette’s painting, This is the Penthouse Suite, are gracing the walls of the 17th Avenue location.
What are the top buys? According to Tara Ikebuchi, Calgary’s junior shop director, it has been the Hollis Tee ($118), a drop shoulder boyfriend fit tee, for women and the Maxwell Long Sleeve ($108), a long sleeve crew neck tee with a raw hemline, for men.
“It’s exciting to be a part of a company that is changing the face of retail in an exciting and innovative way. We are a global brand supporting local creative businesses in fields such as entrepreneurship, food, design, art, music and doing so by working with them to do artwork for the shop, furniture, unique events like our supper clubs, artist features, etc,” says Sarah Hutchings, Calgary’s shop director.
“Our clothes are designed with the idea that we want to save these people time – they are busy and living full contact lives and need luxury clothing that can function in technical ways, like machine washable cashmere, or the perfect fitting T-shirt with subtle details like darting in the back,” says Hutchings.
The store is a perfect fit for Calgary, she adds, because it’s emerging as a creative city with so many talented people.