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  • Eric Wimberly

Karl vonBuck, the latest in Portland fashion collaborations, helmed by designers Barbara Seipp and Kate Troedsson, will be launching their debut collection tonight with a fashion presentation and party at Adorn's SE Division location. To give readers more insight into this new label, we asked the designers a few questions.

Portland Mercury: How did this collaboration come to be?

Barbara Seipp: We have known each other for several years as Kate modeled for me back in the Isaac Hers era. Over the past year, we have have become closer through mutual friends and realized how well we get along. There is a strong mutual respect. I saw Kate's work at PFW last year and was impressed with the level of detail on the pieces, especially for a recent design grad. It was late summer, and Kate expressed interest in "getting involved in something." Coincidentally, I was also thinking about getting started again. We talked and agreed that we both wanted to collaborate, without the pressure of commitment, just for our creative sanity. I was working at Adorn, so we thought it would be fun to do a capsule for Adorn. Nicole (Whitesell) was totally supportive and excited to be a part of it.

Kate Troedsson: I have always admired Barbara's design aesthetic with Isaac Hers, and the tenacity with which she ran her business. I firmly believe that you never stop learning and that those around you have so much to offer. When Barbara and I got to talking genuinely about the Portland apparel industry at her late-summer barbecue I expressed my interest in becoming involved in something new. As a recent design graduate, life can become discouraging when the economy is rough. Barbara and I bonded over the idea of how refreshing and vitalizing it would be to collaborate on something entirely on our terms; that breathing life into a new creative endeavor would in turn renew creative life to ourselves.

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  • Eric Wimberly

Where does the name "Karl vonBuck" come from?

Seipp: Kate and I both liked the idea of boy names since the collection has a bit of menswear angle. So we each chose one, Kate picked Karl and I picked Buck. The "von" idea started as a joke retaliation to all the brands using an "&" to join two words. We liked how it sounded though, so we went with it.

Troedsson: Yes! We also liked that the name is like a combined pseudonym for ourselves, kind of like a pen name. There is also personal, lighthearted inspiration written into the name and the collection itself. Karl is my grandfathers name, Barbara named a dress for her father, and two garments are named after our dogs!

Barbara, you took some time off from the Portland fashion scene for a little bit. What prompted you to return to it?

Seipp: I left seeking work life balance. What I got was all life... which isn't a bad thing, but I was feeling the need to get back at something creatively. Also, I really like Kate, a lot. Creatively, working together is so easy. I think that is a rare thing. I really knew I wanted to work with a partner, someone with skin in the game. The partnership with Kate came up and it was obvious we should work together.

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  • Eric Wimberly

What is the overall theme and feeling of your line and upcoming collection?

Seipp: The line is denim based at its heart. We both love denim and menswear and wanted to make pieces we would want in our closet. There is an undercurrent of preppy/punk, though it is tempered with a strong PNW sensibility. It's all easy to wear, from denim button ups, denim dresses, to classic jeans. One of our original concepts was hot pink denim. So we did some dying and we are loving the pink. We added in some plaid wool, tencel, and fur to round out the collection.

Troedsson: As we said earlier, we were inspired by creating entirely on our own terms. That means that we had complete control over our materials, adding to our collection's vibe of independence. Barbara did all the dyeing by hand, testing various shades of pink. I used professional sanding machinery to add fade and subtle distress to various garments; as well as hammering hardware.

Who is your customer?

Seipp: The vonBuck gal knows who she is. She is tough, seeks excitement, works hard, creates her own path and does it on her own terms. I think the attitude has a strong element of breaking free from what others expect you to do.

Troedsson: The vonBuck gal is any gal who desires adventure and to move forward in life maximizing every moment! It's open to interpretation and we hope other women can view vonBuck as an adjective to inspire!

Seipp: It's a way of life, and I think Kate and I both embody it, even though we are at different stages of lives and careers. We created a definition which is not meant to be a dictionary definition per se, but rather a brainstorm of concepts/things that define Karl vonBuck. We think it sums things up pretty well while still allowing room for interpretation. vonBuck: an attitude, an adrenaline rush, an escape from normality, a way of life, a dollar hard earned, a giant punch in the face, a righteous article of clothing.

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  • Eric Wimberly

Is this a long-term collaboration or a one time thing? If it's long-term, what are your plans for the future?

Seipp: The future is unknown for vonBuck. We are both really loving doing it, but we are going to see how it goes. So far, it has been amazing working together and I would love to see it continue. The challenge as always is to find a way make enough money while still having some kind of work-life balance. We will try to make it work.