Nothing beats a nuanced take on wardrobe staples. Such is the case of the classic striped shirt, which has been elevated to new heights thanks to the preppy-chic label Kule. Offering a classic aesthetic with whimsical motifs, designer and founder Nikki Kule focuses on perfecting a range of silhouettes inspired by fashion icons like Brigitte Bardot and Alexa Chung. And with an avid It girl fan base that now includes Olivia Palermo, Leandra Medine and Rocky Barnes, it’s clear that Kule is making quite a name for itself. We recently sought out Nikki for a chat on all things stripes—from mastering a modern look to how and why you should try a striped tee for a night out. Here, check out our scoop on Kule’s too-cool stripes (see what we did there?).
The Zoe Report: Why do you think the striped shirt remains so iconic?
Nikki Kule: I think it's kept its status because of the people who have worn it in the past, like Pablo Picasso, Audrey Hepburn, Coco Chanel, Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin. All of them are classic style icons who will forever be emulated—and they all wore striped shirts. These muses are a constant source of inspiration for me because their style is timeless, and I think the striped shirt is the same way in that it will always remain a classic.
TZR: What do you think keeps the striped look modern and fresh every season? How do you do this?
NK: In my opinion, keeping stripes modern is all about how you approach styling. It's important to mix up the way you wear them. Stripes can be paired with solids, prints or other stripes to create a look that's updated and unique. I often find myself mixing different fabrics, like striped knits and wovens, each season to introduce new and playful takes on the classic stripe.
TZR: How is Kule different from other brands known for stripes?
NK: Kule has a strong branding message and a signature aesthetic that sets us apart from other stripe-centric labels. We really focus on the art of perfecting the striped shirt, and we take a lot of pride in the details and refined quality of our products. I work directly with the team in our female-run factory to ensure the fit is perfect and that they make the styles with the same attention to detail and care that I put into designing them. We offer four core silhouettes in order to cater to women of all body types as well as to provide a style that works for every type of look.
TZR: How do you style a striped tee if you don't subscribe to a preppy aesthetic?
NK: Personally, I don't view stripes as being preppy, as I think they are no longer identified with just one category. In the past, stripes were often associated with boating, but the rules have definitely changed. I wear stripes as if they were a solid. To me, they are like a non-print. Stripes can be urban, country, formal, casual, athletic—you name it.
TZR: How would you suggest dressing up a striped shirt for an unexpected evening or formal look?
NK: I love dressing up a striped tee by styling it under a tuxedo! If you want a more feminine look, pair it with a tuxedo jacket and a black tulle skirt.
TZR: Is there one style from your line that you wear repeatedly?
NK: The Modern Long striped tee is my go-to, as it's super comfortable and looks good with everything. I normally prefer wearing a long-sleeved shirt, and the lightweight cotton makes it ideal for summer. I'm addicted to it! I currently have the Modern Long in every colorway on rotation in my closet.
TZR: Tough question: If someone is new to your brand and is going to buy only one item, which one do you recommend?
NK: I would recommend The Classic striped tee because it really does feature the most classic fit of a traditional striped shirt, with three-quarter sleeves and a clean, finished look. As far as colorway goes, I would suggest the Cream/Navy because it's the perfect place to start.