Kohl’s sits down with designer Barbara Clarke Ruiz to learn more about her newest activewear apparel collection
Known for her bold and versatile athletic apparel and sportswear designs, Barbara Clarke Ruiz teamed up with Kohl’s to design the company’s latest Tek Gear capsule collection, available now. The new limited-edition assortment for Tek Gear comes as Kohl’s continues to build on its strategy to become the destination for the active and casual lifestyle, and bolsters the company’s active and athleisure private label offerings.
The newest Tek Gear collection designed by Barbara Clarke Ruiz features vibrant colors, statement-making prints, and body-positive fits. It includes styles for men, women, and kids, and is specifically designed to make customers feel confident, stylish, and energized. All of the collections utilize super soft fabrics and trend-forward design features. The ladies collection includes peek-a-boo cutouts, wide satin drawstrings, ruching, and extra long unfinished hems on the palazzo pants that allow customers to personalize to their preferred lengths. The Mens and Boys collections are a play on active streetwear classics updated with functional fabrics and bold digital and graffiti prints. The girls collection is fun and functional for the season, utilizing buttery Soft Tek fleece with a bold pastel floral.
Kohl’s sat down with Barbara Clarke Ruiz to learn more about her design inspiration for this collection and what she hopes customers will love about her new line.
Tell us a little bit about your background and design history.
Fashion design has always been my passion, and I knew from an early age that I wanted to build a career in fashion. I graduated with honors and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Pratt Institute. I started my career at adidas and after the launch of many successful collections was offered a design position in France and Germany and later. became a consultant with the company. That led me to creating my own design studio and working with other global athletic brands including Nike, adidas, Fila, New Balance, Speedo, Hanes, Jockey, Asics, Disney, Colosseum, Zoggs International, Walmart, and Eleven By Venus.
My spirit is fueled by creativity so I have several other entrepreneurial endeavors.
What do you find most interesting and fun about designing athletic apparel?
I love the creative design freedom active provides primarily due to the stretch component of many fabrics. I love that active has become everyday lifestyle apparel and sportswear is now utilizing spandex in fabrics thus making it more mainstream. This cross-functionality allows people to be comfortable in whatever they do and look great while doing it.
I always look for a fresh perspective in design, utilizing elements that are unexpected and a hybrid of streetwear. Today, having athletic apparel that makes you look and feel good can also be a motivating factor to stay focused and consistent in a person’s health journey, so being able to be a part of that is extremely rewarding.
Tell us about your Tek Gear collection – what was the inspiration behind the designs and who did you have in mind as you were creating the pieces?
There are so many things I love about this collection! The color vibrancy of the kaleidoscope prints, the black/white variation, and the fit. I wanted this collection to accommodate various body types and speak to the fashion-forward woman who likes unique styles that stand out and make a bold statement. The bold multicolored print also allows her to easily merchandise her favorite pieces with the core items she already has in her closet.
Why was the concept of color so important to infuse into your designs for this collection?
It’s simple, color is life! Colors play a vital role in our lives and how we respond to our surroundings. The colors you surround yourself with can influence your perspective and emotions, as well as those around you. This collection was designed with a lot of love and I want it to inspire, uplift, and pave the way for anyone who has ever had a dream and followed it. This is one of my dreams. . .
The print and colors are fashion-forward and timeless. Prints are often my inspirational starting point for many of my collections. It sets the tone for the direction and makes a memorable fashion statement. I love using simple design lines and silhouettes with bold prints in my collections. This collection lives in the vibrant energy and beauty of diverse cultures.
How is the line body positive and body conscious?
The oversized print is flattering to all body types. The silhouettes are both fitted and oversized. I utilized a curvy fit as I wanted women with all shapes and sizes to feel comfortable in my collection. I paid attention to details that would flatter every body type.
What do you want current and future Kohl’s customers to know about your new capsule collection at Kohl’s?
Whenever I design collections, my hope is that people will love it! I’m hopeful that this collection will be a vehicle that would allow customers who haven’t shopped in Kohl’s to visit us, and my collections will become some of their wardrobe favorites.
This collection was thoughtfully designed. I want this collection to inspire and uplift anyone who has ever had a dream and followed it. This is one of my childhood dreams and my late Mom would be so very proud! She taught me that your belief system is very powerful and you become what you believe. I’m truly filled with gratitude and humbled by this opportunity!
The latest Tek Gear capsule is available now in over 250 Kohl’s stores, and online at Kohls.com.