The fashion industry doesn't often throw a party on a Friday, fashion week excepted. But Frame Denim and Karlie Kloss had no trouble drawing a crowd to Empire Diner in Chelsea last Friday evening, less than a dozen blocks north of the new Whitney Museum, where a party was also taking place.
The nearly 70-year-old diner — which was renovated last year, but still boasts its original Art Moderne facade and a retro-flavored interior — was made over as "Karlie's Diner" for the evening. Signage was pasted to a mirror over the bar, and guests, crowded into booths or standing in tight clusters, munched on "Frame Fries" and sipped from orange-striped cups labeled "Karlie's Soda" and "Frame Pop." Occasionally, Kloss herself — in a fitted black tee and light-washed flares from her latest collaboration with Frame — picked up a tray and served guests, which included Grace Coddington, Wendi Murdoch, models Martha Hunt and Lily Donaldson, Teen Vogue's Amy Astley, Julia Restoin Roitfeld, Chelsea Leyland, Elin King, and photographers Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin.
The event was an after-party of sorts for an appearance Kloss had made earlier that day at Bergdorf Goodman to promote her pre-fall collection for Frame. Kloss has been collaborating with the label since 2013, helping to develop (and model) a line of jeans called "Forever Karlie" with a longer in-seam, for which she receives a cut of sales.
"It was a totally organic thing," Jens Grede, co-founder of the Saturday Group and Frame Denim, said of the formation of their partnership. "Karlie wanted to wear Frame but didn't fit in our jeans. So we started to cut jeans for her, and she said, 'There are more girls like me, you should make these.'" Grede and fellow co-founder Erik Torstensson shopped the collection around to Barneys and Net-a-Porter and they agreed to buy a small selection — "like 20 pairs," Grede recalled. But they sold out, and the partnership is going strong two years later. The diner was the perfect setting for the party because it fit with Frame's late '70s, New York-inspired aesthetic, Grede said.
These days, Frame is expanding into new categories, like cashmere and outerwear, and its products are now available for purchase in more than 1,000 locations. The company's Instagram feed is a testament to how popular the brand is with models, who are not paid to wear Frame goods, Grede insisted. A Frame store and e-commerce site are on the roadmap for this year, he added.
"I don't think the world needs more brands and the world certainly doesn't need more products, unless you have a reason to do it or do it really well," he remarked. Looking around a room full of attractively Frame-clad women, it's fair to say the brand is doing both.