Paris Match at The Kooples
It’s a creative career coupling that’s turned out to be a perfect match for The VQ’s The Kooples and its store Manager Katy Brown-Lee.
At just 22 years old the former International Fashion Marketing student is relishing every moment in her management position for the celebrated French fashion brand.
“That’s one of the many wonderful things about The Kooples, age doesn’t matter, if you show initiative and prove that you can do the job well, the opportunities are there,” enthuses The VQ’s The Kooples’ manager Katy. “I was always creative at school and when I got to sixth form I knew that the fashion industry was where I wanted to be and I’m loving every minute of it”.
When studying at Manchester Metropolitan University, Katy took a year out for work experience and hasn’t looked back. Enthusiasm and a love of fashion were apparent in Katy’s first role in the menswear department at Selfridges, as a result a seamless career move to The Kooples followed.
In April 2011 Katy switched to the French fashion brand and began working at The Kooples store in the Trafford Centre, Manchester before switching counties to manage the brand new The Kooples store at Leeds VQ, and she’s set to stay.
“I’ve been given the most amazing role with The Kooples that I’ve decided to put my degree on hold”, explains Katy. “I can always go back to studying, but to be given such a great work opportunity now, that was something I was aiming for in my degree anyway, I just had to take it and really want to make the most of working with such a great brand. I’m putting everything into my work at the moment.”
Founded in Paris back in 2008 by three brothers, Alexander, Laurent and Raphael Elisha, the sons of the couple responsible for the successful Comptoir des Cotonniers, The Kooples is a real phenomenon in France and is currently sweeping the UK. The company’s concept is based on the idea that people in relationships frequently borrow each other's clothes, so designs are often more masculine and androgynous in style with a cool rock vibe.
“It’s a lifestyle that customers want to buy in to, it’s simple, yet it’s very chic. But it’s not only the look but the quality that I adore,” Katy continues. “The Kooples tailoring is amazing, the attention to faultless detail is absolute perfection. The best materials are chosen, such as 100% cashmere, 100% leather and there’s also an element of quirky rock ‘n’ roll that’s edgy but subtle. It makes you want that look”.
Katy acknowledges that there’s often a fine line between what men and women want from their clothes and that a look can often be sexier and more appealing if a little something is left to the imagination. A touch of je ne sais quoi perhaps?
“I live in cigarette pants and oversized shirts,” says Katy who is a great ambassador for the uber cool brand. “I like to be feminine but that doesn’t mean having to have it all on display in a skin tight dress. A subtle classic style with a contemporary twist can be really appealing ”.
A new role in a new location has been a great move for Katy, who is clearly appreciating and in full praise of the beautiful architecture at The VQ’s The Kooples store with its ‘mellow ambience’. The friendliness that exudes from the people of Leeds is another factor that’s high on Katy’s list of Leeds loves.
“The VQ could almost be a film set from Pretty Woman. That’s just what it reminds me of, when Richard Gere takes Julia Roberts shopping to the most beautiful stores, surrounded by high end luxury, BUT the people are really friendly here”, laughs Katy. “I really love all the individual boutiques. The Victoria Quarter has a real sparkle to it. A special quality, it’s absolutely gorgeous”.
So is there a favourite piece to look forward to from The Kooples collection this season?
“I’ve got my eye on a fantastic, printed, silk jacquard shirt, from our collaboration with musician and writer Pete Doherty”, Katy smiles. “It features a tiny ram skull design and mother of pearl buttons, it’s also accessorised with a removable tie and is due in the VQ store anytime. I love it.”
The day to day highlights for The Kooples new manager is chatting to customers about the brand and its style, sharing look books and bringing new ideas of how to dress in an effortlessly stylish way to clients.
A day off for Katy can involve anything from vintage shopping to walks in the countryside, perhaps taking in an art gallery, and definitely socialising with friends.
Careering ahead, Katy is set on continuing to work her way up in the fashion industry, embracing her love of fashion marketing and channelling her love of design and style into The Kooples and future opportunities with the brand.
All sounds tres bien!
Step out in French style this season at……
11 King Edward Street, The Victoria Quarter, Leeds
T: 0113 242 4051