Elana Brynes and I met at Tracy Anderson Method’s Detox Week in the Hamptons, where she had come to do a trunk show for her Kings of Cole brand, and I was immediately impressed both with Elana’s energy and the creativity in her work! Of course, I ordered two of her Kings of Cole sweatshirts, which are flattering, unique, and comfortable, and I’ve been wearing them nonstop!
I asked Elana, a native New Yorker, to chat with me about her life on the Upper East Side and the inspiration behind Kings of Cole.
CSF: Where do you live in the city and what do you love about your neighborhood?
EB: I am a born and raised New Yorker and grew up on the Upper East Side. It is safe to say that I never left! After graduating Boston University and taking a quick 4-year NY-hiatus, I moved right back to the Upper East Side. I love the quietness of my neighborhood, in such a jam-packed city. To me, it offers a different experience than the rest of New York City, and it is very peaceful. The overall atmosphere of the Upper East Side, restaurants, and stores make it feel like home to me. Central Park and Carl Shurz Park are just blocks from my apartment building, which provides a little slice of nature that gets lost in the rest of the concrete jungle.
My office for Kings of Cole is in the heart of the fashion district, so it is nice to come home to the quiet Upper East Side after being immersed in the hustle and bustle all day while at work.
CSF: You’re a huge supporter of local museums – what are some of your favorites galleries/artists?
EB: I love venturing into museums in New York City. I get a lot of inspiration for my line from fashions from past decades, and that can all be found in museums around New York. I look at oil paintings, jewelry, costumes, and statues at the Metropolitan Museum and incorporate my findings into my clothing line, Kings of Cole. Our zipper pull was inspired by a royal piece from a Kings cape, found at the Met. I made it my own of course, but the inspiration was found at the museum. My favorite art to look at is jewelry from hundreds of years ago. I also love the Degas Ballerina Statues, and I always pay them a visit when I am at the Met.
My favorite art gallery is the Hubert Gallery on Madison Avenue between 78th and 79th Street. They always have such one-of-a-kind pieces. One day hopefully I will be able to afford something from there!
CSF: The life of a young, New York entrepreneur is surely busy and exciting! What’s a typical day look like for you?
EB: There really is no typical day. I always say that every day is different from the next, which I love! Some things I do are photo shoots for new collections, meet with my production managers about creating our clothing, trunk shows at Tracy Anderson’s studio, attending huge trade shows in New York and Las Vegas, hosting showing appointments both in stores and at our showroom, etc. Everyday has one thing in common: STRESS, but usually in a good way!
CSF: The obsession with sweatshirts is so lifestyle friendly, (and you’re diversifying with cashmere)! How does the line suit “the New York life?”
EB: I think in New York, people are usually on the go, and it is a very fast-paced city. I wanted to create a line that could take you from day to night. All of the Kings of Cole pieces are comfortable, yet tailored; so our customers can where them to and from the gym, out to lunch, while traveling, etc. I wanted to create a lifestyle brand where women and men can feel comfortable, but look put together at the same time.
CSF: What inspires the style of Kings of Cole? Is there a street style inspiration?
EB: I am inspired from fashions from past decades, and I am definitely inspired by what I see around me. For Kings of Cole, I definitely think about function and try to create pieces that are missing from people’s wardrobes. I have struggled so many times to find great basics with a twist, so I try to create what is missing in the market place. For example, our Sweatshirts and Cashmere Sweaters are cut longer so that when women wear them with leggings, they cover their butts! I couldn’t find long sweatshirts anywhere so I was inspired by my need.
CSF: Being from New York is a very defining characteristic! What makes being a New Yorker special to you?
EB: I think living in New York requires you to be quick. You need to see opportunities, grab them and have a good head on your shoulders at the same time. Growing up in New York made me mature quickly and I think it prepared me for all different types of challenges. It also offers so many possibilities, and exposes us all to so many different industries and types of people. I think I have developed a thicker skin by being a New Yorker, and I wouldn’t change my New Yorker-ness for anything!
CSF: What’s next for you and for Kings of Cole?
EB: Kings of Cole is quickly expanding! For the Fall, we are offering Cashmere Cardigans with Rose Gold buttons. In the Spring 2013 we are really growing the line into mesh panel tank tops, mesh back t-shirts, long sleeve shirts, etc. I think the sky is the limit for Kings of Cole, and I want to grow my line into the next “big thing”!
Shop Kings of Cole’s women’s line at KingsofCole.com. Which piece is on your must-have list?