Welcome to our newest editorial initiative, Who What Wear Spotlight, where we'll be using our editorial platform, social following, and ad inventory to turn the spotlight on small businesses that need our support now more than ever. Each week, we'll be highlighting a new fashion or beauty company. If you own a small brand and would like to be considered for the program, please apply here.
Many of us, at some point in our lives, have wished for a personal stylist. Someone who not only knows how to piece together the perfect outfit but also is a master at polishing off each look. Think about it: What other job requires you to know what'll photograph well, what won't, and what will actually work on your specific body? Not many, that's for sure, which is why it's pretty great that long-time celebrity stylists Jamie Mizrahi and Simone Harouche launched Kit Undergarments, a brand of foundational undergarments that helps simplify how you get dressed.
"The most important thing we learned from our styling experience is how to dress women’s bodies. We know it all starts with the foundation: your second skin; your undergarments," says Mizrahi. The line consists of everything you'd expect like bras, thongs, and briefs, but everything is designed with a specific purpose and sensitivity to what women should be wearing based on their individual shapes. For example, the triangle soft bra is great for every day because it's lightweight but has side boning to provide some shape without feeling like something is there; while the molded balconette bra is great for fuller chests, as the horizontal seams add shape and help minimize the appearance of any unevenness. In addition to the essentials, the collection also includes other accessories you'd find in Mizrahi and Harouche's styling kits, like an adhesive thong, nipple covers, and bandage tape for when your clothes don't allow for regular undergarments.
But those times feel far from us at the moment, and like many other small-business owners, Mizrahi and Harouche have had to streamline and pivot their company to align with what's currently happening in the world. They've also become more hands-on, answering customer-service inquiries and engaging directly with their audience. "We focused on highlighting products that provided comfort and coziness, which is what, through speaking to our customers, we discovered they want when working from home and conforming to this new lifestyle during the COVID-19 pandemic," explains Mizrahi.
Even though what the world is going through right now is devastating, both Mizrahi and Harouche are trying to focus on the positives. They took the time to chat with us about everything from running a small business during a pandemic to their work-from-home style and why sticking to a routine and getting dressed is so important for staying productive. Keep scrolling to read our interview, and if you're able to show support, Mizrahi and Harouche shared their favorite pieces from Kit Undergarments that you can shop online.
First of all, how are you?
Jamie Mizrahi: Every day is different, of course. At this point, we both have implemented somewhat of a schedule and are becoming accustomed to this work-from-home life. We imagine it’ll be hard to go back to anything else. We are all doing our best to stay healthy, safe, and grateful (and not lose our minds in the process). While what’s happening in the world is beyond devastating, we are trying to focus on the positive sides of this: the chance to restart, the increased family time, and the opportunity for us to connect more closely with our customers. We've become more hands-on—answering all customer service emails and DMs and communicating directly with our Kit community. We have felt so much love and support, and we are extremely appreciative.
Tell us a little about yourself and your business.
JM: We are fashion stylists who have worked in the industry for a cumulative 20 years. We've worked on everything from music videos and red carpets to commercials and costume design for world tours and movies. The most important thing we learned from our styling experience is how to dress women’s bodies. We know it all starts with the foundation: your second skin; your undergarments. The goal of Kit Undergarments is to simplify the process of getting dressed. We developed each product with a very specific purpose and sensitivity to what women should be wearing based on their individual shapes. We are extremely hands-on with every single aspect of our business, and we won't put anything out in the world unless we truly believe in it.
What inspired you to start your business?
JM: We started Kit Undergarments because we wanted to provide women with access to all the tips, tricks, and products that we would make and use on the clients we styled. There are lots of underwear brands out there, but none with founders who are actually in the business of dressing women. We know what works for different body types; we know what fits are flattering and what is essential. We wanted to bring that insider experience and insight to the consumer.
How have social distancing and stay-at-home orders affected your business? How have your priorities shifted?
JM: Social distancing has definitely had an effect on our business. At first, it was really overwhelming for us. The world was changing before our very eyes, and we knew we needed to speak to women and our customers about everything that was going on. We also had to make a lot of hard decisions on how to operate our company so it could survive. It caused both of us to look at our business and see where we needed to streamline and what we needed to prioritize. This has paid off for us in spades.
We focused on highlighting products that provided comfort and coziness, which is what, through speaking to our customers, we discovered they want when working from home and conforming to this new lifestyle during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have become more hands-on with product and specialization by personalizing with handmade tie-dye drops. We do our own social media, where we both host takeovers and speak directly to our customers, answering their questions and being available to talk about basically anything from body type and fit to skincare and being a mom during this time. In addition to social, we are doing our own customer service. This has allowed us to get more personal and build even more connections with the women for whom we are designing and had in mind when we built this company.
Some people are finding joy in getting dressed and doing their beauty routine, even if they have nowhere to go. What do you think fashion and beauty can offer people right now? What has it done for you?
Simone Harouche: I think in the beginning of social distancing, I stopped caring and just stayed in sweatpants and pajamas all day, but then I noticed I didn't feel as good. For certain women (myself included), beauty routines and fashion are definitely areas of self-care. Fashion has always been about self-expression and creativity, so I decided to save the sweatpants for sleeping and started getting dressed every morning. I instantly started to feel better. Everyone is different. Some of my friends ask me why I bother dressing up, but I don't look at it as a chore because it makes me feel more alive.
JM: When this first started, I definitely found myself staying in pajamas all day long. I would shower and put on a new pair of pajamas. Being pregnant, I give myself a little more leeway to dress comfortably and in things that allow me to be very mobile. However, the second I started waking up, showering, and putting on anything but my pajamas is when I felt more motivated to work and create some sort of routine for myself. I find a routine to be important in maintaining my sanity, in addition to at-home facials and manicures and art projects. It's these little things that have helped reduce the anxiety I was feeling by being in pajamas, and sometimes my bed, all day long.
Speaking of fashion, how would you describe your working-from-home style?
SH: I'll describe my stay-at-home style as elevated comfort: vintage tees, comfy trousers, and lightweight sundresses have been in heavy rotation.
JM: My at-home style is definitely cute comfort. I wear a lot of cotton baby-doll dresses. At this point (35 weeks), I've retired pants for the most part.
Aside from fashion and beauty, what are some things that are currently bringing you comfort?
SH: Art and yoga have been really helpful for my mental state during social distancing. I don't get a lot of free time since we have two young kids, but whenever I get a chance, I will steal a little me time with a virtual yoga class. Art has always been very therapeutic for me, so when the kids and I started tie-dying, we started experimenting with Kit Undergarment products. My partner, Jamie, was obsessed and said, "We should sell these! People will love them!" She was right: Kit Undergarments now offers made-to-order tie-dye items, and I do every order by hand, which is amazing for my creativity, but my poor hands are taking a beating.
JM: Crafting, reading, walking, swimming, and cooking have helped my mental state. We've done a lot of painting and drawing for the new baby's room: things to frame for the walls. I've finished two books during quarantine, which feels like an accomplishment given I'm chasing around a 20-month-old a good majority of the time. I try to do at least 10,000 steps a day (and am very committed to reaching that goal because of my Fitbit). When I say I swim, I mean I spend as much time as I can floating in the water: It feels so good on my muscles and body. I've been cooking anything from lemon tarts (weird pregnancy craving) to daily lunches for my family. Zooms and FaceTimes with friends and group texts help me stay sane and feel connected to the people I love.
What are your favorite brands?
SH: I wear a lot of vintage, but I also love Dôen, Re/Done, Khaite, The Row, and Totem.
JM: I love The Row, Khaite, La Ligne, Proenza Schouler, and vintage. I love vintage from all over the world. L.A., in particular, has incredible vintage: Scout, Recess, The Way We Wore, The Paper Bag Princess. I also love ReSee, which is online.
What’s one fashion or beauty trend we shouldn’t sleep on and why?
SH: I'm obsessed with dry brushing and Déesse Pro LED light mask. I have noticed such a difference since I started using both of those.
JM: I use a lot of Versed products, Isla products, my Déssee Pro LED light mask (religiously), and a skin routine à la Shani Darden, which includes her products as well as others she recommends. Oh, and I always use my C & The Moon body scrub. It makes my skin so soft and smell oh-so-good.