SHARP & Range Rover
Kaelen Haworth has always forged her own path in the world of fashion. From the launch of her two New York-based lines, to her styling and consultancy work, to her latest retail enterprise, she’s a serial entrepreneur with a demonstrated passion for pushing boundaries and taking on new challenges. We caught up with her just as she was about to open the doors of her new Toronto-based destination.
Haworth’s journey began in 2009 with her eponymous fashion line — Kaelen — which earned her a spot in the Council of Fashion Designers of America Incubator and gave her a presence with a number of reputable retailers. That first effort naturally led to her second venture in 2017, Second Sight, a size-inclusive collection which took a direct-to-consumer approach, exemplifying her commitment to accessible and stylish fashion. In 2020, she made the choice to transition to editorial and celebrity styling — a departure from the path she had been heading down to that point.
“The change in trajectory wasn’t so much due to anything happening within my business. It was more about the shifting landscape of retail,” Haworth recalls. “Everything changed pretty drastically during the time I founded both brands. When I started Kaelen, e-commerce wasn’t as prevalent as it is now. Social media sales weren’t a thing. The ways people purchased and interacted with brands were very different. This sort of made some decisions for me.”
The timing also lined up with other changes in her life — Haworth was planning a move back to Toronto with her family at the time. Given that production and sourcing happened in New York, and being present for the manufacturing process was crucial, transferring all that to another city didn’t seem reasonable. So, she shuttered her US operations and returned to Canada to pursue new ventures.
Haworth says she found herself missing aspects of the business like creative direction, styling and content creation more than she did designing clothes. This realization guided her into creative direction and consulting. With over a decade of experience in the fashion industry and a perspective shaped by her time in New York, she believed she had valuable insights to share, particularly beneficial to newcomers in the industry. She’s since offered her expertise to both celebrities and brands such as NY-based jewellery designer Nam Cho and Toronto-based luxury reseller VSP Consignment.
“Collaborating with people is something I truly enjoy. It feels like it enhances everything, elevating your ideas,” says Haworth. “Of course, the collaboration must involve the right people, but it’s one of the things I love most. Discussions and brainstorming often lead to better outcomes. I continually seek inspiration from others’ work and creative endeavours.”
SHARP caught up with her just as she was launching her newest venture — an effort that will be so much more than just a retail destination. Absolutely Fabrics will stock an eclectic mix of designer and vintage pieces, but it will also serve as a creative studio space, with engaging programming that includes trunk shows, shoots and product-launch events. The concept store is set to become a vibrant hub where fashion enthusiasts can explore, create and connect.
Haworth has already embraced the move to merchandising. “I find a consistent flow of creative output more achievable compared to the highs and lows typical of a designer’s schedule. There always seems to be something new unfolding. It energizes me.”
As a designer, Haworth notes, each collection demands your all, followed by a significant downturn where you’re expected to conjure another brilliant creative concept within a few months. She found this cycle taxing. Now, she has the opportunity to contribute to other designers’ creations, discover individuals she wasn’t previously aware of and conceptualize fun ways to showcase their creations.
It feels like she’s found what she should have been doing all along. Though Haworth confesses that with a smile, as Absolutely Fabrics was still in the process of launching as of press time.
“It’s a bit of a ‘we’ll see,’” she jokes. “But I get to do everything I aspired to do while I was designing. It’s a fusion of everything I’ve attempted to achieve in different chapters of my career, converging now.”