Why this fashion editor loves the Kohl's k/lab line

Introducing the fashion-forward Kohl’s k/lab line. (Photo: Courtesy of Kohl’s, Art: Quinn Lemmers for Yahoo Style)

Yahoo Style would like to introduce you to #TheCurrent, a new column by Market Editor Julie Tong, in which she gives her stamp of approval to the some of the latest fashion products and launches. 

A few months ago, my boss asked me over lunch, “I love your dress. Who makes it? Céline?” Another co-worker chimed in, “Is it Proenza Schouler?” I smiled coyly and said, “Actually … it’s Kohl’s!” They both gasped (I’m not sure whether in horror, glee, or a bit of both), but they proceeded to collectively shout at me, “No way!”

“I know, it’s true,” I said proudly, and in slight disbelief myself.

In short, this has been the story of my life over the past few months.

Yahoo Style Fashion Market Editor Julie Tong in a dress from the Kohl’s k/lab line. (Photo: Julie Tong)

Case in point: In the spring, I attended a music festival in Boston with seven of my closest friends. As we were all getting dressed at our Airbnb, I pulled out a yellow floral-printed dress (see below) which featured slits on the front and an on-trend, off-the shoulder ruffle sleeve. As soon as I walked out into the living room, all of my girlfriends shrieked, “Oh my gosh, you look so cute! I love that dress. Where’d you get it?”

Yep, you guessed it. “It’s Kohl’s,” I said.

This storyline has been on repeat for months now. Albeit, the people in every story are different, but there are two things that remain the same — first, someone always inquires about my outfit; second, they are astonished once they find out that said item is from Kohl’s.

It all goes back to the fall of 2016, when Kohl’s announced it was launching a new fashion-forward line called k/lab — targeted at millennials, to provide them with the freshest apparel derived from trends spotted on social media and music, art, culture, and, of course, fashion.

Kohl’s noticed how quickly such trends come and go, and looked to capitalize on the millennial market by turning around trend-driven product quickly (often within three months) so that its apparel could be available in stores while the trend was still relevant.

As a fashion editor, I was at first skeptical. Could Kohl’s truly compete with the plethora of fast-fashion chains now pumping out their own desirable versions of trendy bell-sleeved dresses, off-the-shoulder tops, and waist-tie jumpsuits at the same speed as a Zara or an H&M?

I can now firmly and confidently say: yes.

A houndstooth off-the-shoulder blouse from Kohl’s k/lab line. (Photo: Courtesy of Kohl’s)
A plaid dress with embellished strap from Kohl’s k/lab line. (Photo: Courtesy of Kohl’s)

As soon as I tried on one of the new dresses, I was surprised at both how comfortable and how cute it was. I’ve since integrated k/lab pieces into my daily wardrobe for work, brunch, dinner, and special events, like the music festival.

Style-wise, I prefer to mix and match my k/lab dresses with my favorite designer or vintage pieces, whether it’s my ’90s denim jacket, favorite pair of Prada mules, or a vintage beaded handbag I snagged from a local thrift store. All are easy ways to truly make each outfit your own.

Everything from k/lab is affordably priced — under $100. You can check out all the latest styles on kohls.com/klab and find fetching ways to style them in real life on its Instagram page, @klabstyle. This fashion line is proof that you don’t need a big budget to look fashionable.

So if you’re looking for a quick fix to your retail therapy cravings, consider heading to Kohl’s instead of your nearest Zara. You can avoid twinning with your colleague or BFF, and come out with something you’ll want to wear over and over again.

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