Karolina Zmarlak Is Reinventing the Concept of Convertible Wear


For anyone wondering about the future of luxury, Karolina Zmarlak seems a promising indication. After graduating from F.I.T.’s fashion-design program with a specialization in tailoring in 2007, the former intern of both Theory and Carolina Herrera (not to mention winner of Gen Art’s Styles award for eveningwear in 2005) spent a couple of years mostly designing made-to-measure pieces for private clients before debuting her eponymous ready-to-wear label for fall '09. With business partner Jesse Keyes, Karolina conceived of a line that applied the ideals behind made-to-measure to ready-to-wear clothes meant to be “malleable, shifting, flexible, and to be worn in ways that require the individual wearer’s interaction.”

These ideas translate into convertible pieces that can be worn in seemingly endless ways — picture a black dress that becomes blue once you turn it inside out, or a jacket that can be tied and wrapped in a multitude of ways — providing a lot more value than your average frock. “My friends realized how much ‘one-time-wear’ crap they accumulated in their closets over the past ten years. Convertibility is about personalization, and I think that’s very important to the modern client.” Of course, this means Karolina’s clothes require a bit more thought than just throwing on a tent dress and calling it a day. “I’ve always gravitated toward clothes that allow me to express my style, not dictate it.” How’s that for luxury?