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Kardo Designer Rikki Kher on Quality and Craftsmanship

After working in the textile and garment industry for a number of years on the business side, Rikki Kher, creative director and founder of Kardo, began making his own clothes. He hadn’t found what he wanted in the market, so he started designing pieces and re-engineering garments he already had. People began to comment on these items and express interest in buying them, and this was the starting point for Kardo.

When Kher began Kardo, he kept it small and focused on quality. Having lived in England, he was influenced by the culture of tailoring. Each piece in the Kardo collection is made one at a time by a tailor who stitches the item from start to finish. Yet, since the company owns the production and supply chain, they can still make the prices pretty reasonable.

The line is targeted toward a global traveler who loves arts and music, and who can appreciate the craft that goes into the clothes’ construction. “It’s a market that’s trying to solve an issue for men who are 30-plus, who want to be stylish but are looking for very high-quality product that doesn’t speak too loudly,” Kher said.

The Spring ’16 line reaffirms the brand’s focus on craftsmanship and quality fabrics. A key element is a collection of handwoven shirts that feature intricate stripes, contemporary shapes and subtle sporty detailing ($150-175). The shirts also incorporate subtle contrast elements: one black button or bright stitching or piping. The fabric is super lightweight and woven on hand looms by master weavers in India. Hand weaving is a dying trade, but one that Kher understands lends a distinct standard.

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“Handwoven fabrics are alive,” Kher said. “Each ten meters is slightly different from the last ten meters.”

A signature of the line is dressier silhouettes executed in casual fabrics. For example, a very high density, lightweight poplin is used for bottoms and jackets. Furthermore, jackets have oversized pockets and shortened lapels, and pants are outfitted with simplified cargo pockets. Kher said, “We’re trying to create a formal sportswear where you’ve got a pair of trousers, but they’re made in this lightweight fabric, so you can wear them in the summer.”

Also in the formal sportswear category are indigo-dyed, handwoven denim styles ($190-290). Kher said that he had seen a lot of similar fabrics on the market, but not like this one, which was a real denim 3×1 weave. The spring collection includes three denim styles: an unlined jacket with selvedge detailing, a loose-fit inverse pleat trouser and a flat front trouser.

Kher is looking to target medium-to-upper end retailers for the line: small boutiques that have a voice and focus on the idea of tradition and skills. He said he could see his clothing alongside brands like Nigel Cabourn, Band of Outsiders and Gitman Bros. Kardo has just become available to retailers in the US through The Good Agency.

In terms of expanding the line, Kher has already made handwoven Ikat ties, small leather wallets and some canvas and leather bags. He said he would like to do even more: “I really want to expand the types of fabrics that we use so I can increase the product line. So I’m planning a sourcing trip to Japan soon for some inspiration. One day I would love to make a line of shoes or collaborate with someone to do a collection.”