FASHTALKS WITH KETIVANI
Interview for a Designer Spotlight
Apr 07, 2023 12:35 PM
What is your earliest design memory for your brand?
One of my earliest memories of the brand is designing in my kitchen in the early 90s, getting rolls of fabric at the retail stores in the New York garment district, cutting samples on the floor, and getting orders from a boutique in Forest Hills, Queens. The store loved my designs, and the demand was high, but I struggled with production and so I decided to enroll at FIT.
What is the story behind the name of your brand, KetiVani?
It is a slight modification of my given name, Ketevan. I was named after Ketevan the Martyr, a queen of Kakheti, a kingdom in eastern Georgia from 1605 to 1614. Strong women such as Ketevan the Martyr are my target customers.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find my inspiration in my travels and my everyday activities. We often visit our granddaughter in San Francisco, or we drive to the mountains for skiing. I get inspired by the beauty around me. Also, I get inspiration from the fabric trade shows.
Do you have a favorite piece that you have designed?
Yes, the silk jacquard suit which was displayed at the Denver Art Museum as part of the exhibition, Suited Empowered Feminine Fashion (October 24, 2021 – April 6, 2022). Thousands of people admired it for 7 months at the museum next to iconic designer suits.
How would you describe the style you aim for your brand?
The KetiVani brand slogan is Fashion with Fit and Function. I create elegant, classic wardrobe essentials. I use high-quality fabrics and excellent craftsmanship to produce forever garments.
“Don’t design anything basic, unless you can make it better than anyone else in the world.”
What sets your brand apart from the rest?
KetiVani is a labor of love. I go to the luxury stores and try on nation-brand merchandise with the same price points and even higher. Due to my technical skills and attention to detail, the fit and construction of KetiVani are often significantly better than the competition.
What brand values are the most important for KetiVani?
I don’t take any shortcuts; I offer a customer product that is absolutely the best for its value. KetiVani is versatile.
I test my product personally to make sure I can wear it all day long during work, can go out in it, dance in it, and it is perfect for travel.
Respecting our communities and suppliers is the fundamental core of KetiVani. I work for myself and don’t care how long it takes to do things right.
I mentor young designers; I share my skills. I am not afraid of competition. I want to pass my skills and expertise to the next generation.
As a former Geophysicist, I care deeply about my planet. I produce less to last a long time and minimize pollution and environmental impact.
What were some hurdles you had to overcome in your business?
I design, create patterns, as well as sew all my samples. It is difficult to find factories that can duplicate my type of workmanship for a small quantity and my target price. I spend lots of time training technicians. I don’t offer my designs to stores unless I secure production from a factory or a home sewer.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to a new designer?
It is a saturated market. Research your competition. Don’t design anything basic, unless you can make it better than anyone else in the world.
How does sustainability play a role in your brand?
Sustainability is a fundamental core of my business. I frequently upcycle garments and work to minimize waste.
What sustainable measures has KetiVani taken to better the environment?
I produce less, just enough to meet factory minimums per style.
I wear my designs for 20+ years and create clothing that lasts a lifetime.
When I create, I keep in mind the width of the fabric to minimize fabric wastage. My superior technical skills allow me to do that.
I request fabric remnants from the factories and create clothing from scraps for myself or fashion shows to avoid the remnants ending up in landfills.
I never use 100% polyester, unless it is made from recycled plastic bottles. 100% polyester doesn't biodegrade.
“My brand offers fabulous clothing that fits well and offers generational longevity and tremendous value with minimal environmental impact.”
How has the fashion industry changed since you first started out?
It has changed drastically since the early 90s. I couldn't keep up with the orders when I started designing. People went to stores and bought quality garments on the spot. There were more quality products made in the USA then. Even though shifting to overseas manufacturing offers lower costs, in many cases the quality has deteriorated dramatically. Also, social media changed business a lot. Even though it has plenty of benefits, it makes it harder for fashion brands to compete. As a small business, it is very time-consuming for me to constantly post on multiple channels to gain popularity. I prefer to spend my time designing and creating my clothing. This is what gives me the greatest joy.
If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career, what would it be?
After graduating from FIT in 1995, I wanted to get a job as a fashion designer in New York. Instead, I took a pattern-making job because it paid better. While this allowed me to gain more technical skills and develop a greater understanding of garment fit and construction, I should have pursued design positions sooner with my own portfolio.
What should consumers expect to see next from KetiVani?
I love what I do, and I will be creating for the rest of my life. As my brand grows, I want to improve my fabrics even more and offer couture level for less to customers who truly value fabulous fashion with fit and function.
What is the most important thing you would like your brand to be recognized for?
KetiVani isn’t a global brand. My brand offers fabulous clothing that fits well and offers generational longevity and tremendous value with minimal environmental impact.