“This is a True Story”
Location: Maxfield LA
Time: 8:00 PM
While Justin Bieber may have just cancelled his Purpose Worldwide Tour, fans now have a new way to get the opportunity to to get their hands on his new merchandise. This is the “true story” about the new, affordable IT Tee, launched by celebrity-stylist Karla Welch and her superstar client Justin Bieber, this story begins and ends with Justin just as so many stories have before. When I first heard about this collaboration the day before the online launch, I checked out the xKARLA site which had a 13-hour countdown time-ticking down on the landing page, which was counting down to when her new collaboration with Hanes would go live online on her site the following morning. This would be followed by a rollout of a colloboration with Postmates App to have the merchandise delivered to your door, and the official launch of the xKARLA pop-up shop at Maxfield Los Angeles on August 6th at 11:00 AM.
The xKARLA Instagram account would post new images of the campaign daily and keep a countdown that drove fans into a frenzy approaching the launch. The night finally came on August 3rd, where revered celebrity stylist Karla Welch was able to bask in the celebratory glory of the launch of the Hanes xKARLA collection, her re-imagined version of the affordable yet tailored white t-shirt inspired by her iconic client Justin Bieber. “We have a tagline that ‘classics never die,'” Welch says. “I’m not a designer, but I know a T-shirt, I know what I feel is missing in my closet.”Held at Los Angele’s premiere fashion boutique and gallery Maxfield LA, the exclusive event showcased the series of her seven reimagined white t-shirts. “The whole process has been about making a white shirt for everybody … that’s affordable to everyone,” says Welch. These seven tees are the first in a series of new product launches under the her new label xKARLA helmed by Welch, as she announced a second drop of products were to be released in October.
With the vibe of the event feeling much less like a product launch and more an intimate gathering of friends, the inspiration behind the line himself Mr. Justin Bieber held court amongst the crowd while mingling with manager Scooter Braun and his wife, as well as supermodel Karlie Kloss who was celebrating her 25th birthday at the event that night. Videos of the campaign and collection were projected across the walls of the gallery throughout the parking lot, as Karla’s clients and friends came out to support her new endeavor. This included Elisabeth Moss, America Ferrara, Scooter Braun, Tracey Ellis Ross, Jen Atkin, Chris McMillan and Jennifer Meyer were amongst those close to her on hand to celebrate her and Justin’s latest achievement. The music was provided by DJ Soko as Karla and Maxfield’s guests drank Casamigos Tequila cocktails, Rosé, and dined on tacos.
In utilizing her fashion skillset built from years of experience creating one-of-a-kind shirts for Bieber, she introduced this new line with Hanes, her take on a surprisingly affordable white T-Shirt that anyone can wear and feel good in (megastar or not), that she believes to be the answer to the white-tee shirt being her and many other people’s uniforms. She told The Hollywood Reporter “This is an item I want in my life… and it’s one thing I have experience making- white t-shirts.” The experience she is referring to was when he she first began styling Justin Bieber during his Believe tour, amidst his transition from child star gone wrong to one of the world’s leading men’s fashion icons and return to chart-topping music sensation. The two shared their desires for “something oversized yet not crazy,” and found a way to overcome the hurdle of finding the right fit and fabric at the right price, which was nearly impossible. That was until they found the answer within their shared love for Hanes’ white cotton T-Shirts. By the time that they had reached his Purpose Tour, she shares with Vogue that his eye for fashion is “totally fearless,” and adds “there are very few menswear lines that haven’t been built on his style.”
Throughout the course of her buying and creating what she estimates to be over 600 XXXL Hanes tee shirts and cutting them into their desired proportions, the idea came to her that she should sell the shirts she made for Justin, using her template and the many deconstructed vintage Hanes white t-shirts. Once Welch approached Hanes with the idea, it was less than a week to when all three, Karla, Justin Bieber’s team and Hanes, had signed on the dotted line. She is referring to the shirts as “future vintage,” as it will take more than a few washes to break them in and achieve the desired style. “It’s a shirt you’re going to need to commit to,” she maintains. In looking to her ideal white tee, she looked to Hollywood icon James Dean and how he wore his tees, and from there formulated the look of how the seven tops consisting of this first collection should wear on a person’s body. All of the chopping and cutting of the different Hanes tees seems to have paid off as the shirt has the perfect length and is “slightly refined and slimmer” than Hanes and other more expensive brand’s offerings.
Karla believed that the campaign needed to be equally as appealing as the garments and the hype they would create, as it would be Justin’s first fashion campaign since his eyebrow raising stunt in those infamous Calvin Klein underwear ads. Accompanying Bieber as the star of the campaign, models Kaia Gerber and Joan Smalls modeled a variety of styles and sizes of the $30 white tee ranging from in styles from classic, oversized, crop top, sleeveless and baby tees. Keeping it in the family, Karla’s husband Matthew Welch shot the 90’s inspired campaign in a way that would allow him creative license to make the images “iconic yet accessible.” He sought out the work of Robert Mapplethorpe and Robert Longo for inspiration. He tells Vogue, “he just wanted it to feel really clean.”
Now is the time to watch and see if Karla and Justin’s new adventure will veer off into the Kardashian/West/Jenner product launch territory, with immediate sell-outs, insane lines, and an inability to restock the items fast enough to keep up with the consumers appetite. Similar to the success of Kanye’s Yeezy fashion brand or his Adidas Yeezy Boosts footwear collaboration, Kim & Kanye’s Calabasas Kids clothing line, Kim Kardashian’s KKW Beauty, KIMOJI’s, and her Kim Kardashian Hollywood Game, and Kylie’ Jenner’s meteoric entrepreneurial rise with her Kylie Cosmetic’s runaway hit Lip Kits, one can only where Bieber’s fan base and the everyday person looking for that same cut of tee can take this new brand, and to what level. It wouldn’t be the first time Bieber collaborations have flown off the shelves, like his capsule collection with Fear of God which quickly sold out at the select Barney’s New York locations it was sold in, along with his most recent Purpose Tour merchandise.
You can purchase the garments from the xKARLA collection website, utilize the Free Delivery option on Postmates if you are in the Los Angeles area, or by shopping the collection in-store at Maxfield during their pop-up shop which opens today August 6th from 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM, all while supplies last.
8825 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90069