Hollywood Stylist Karla Welch’s Cinema-Inspired Dockers Collaboration

Karla Welch-Publicity-H 2019
Courtesy Wardrobe NYC

The seven-piece 'gender-free' line includes wide-leg, high-waist khakis that evoke Fred Astaire, a 'Columbo' trench coat and a 'Gilligan's Island' bucket hat.

Hollywood stylist Karla Welch (who counts Tracee Ellis Ross, Sarah Paulson, Elisabeth Moss, Olivia Wilde and Justin Bieber among her clients) has partnered with the Levi Strauss & Co. brand Dockers on a cinema-inspired capsule collection that she calls “a very modern comfortable uniform.” 

The line, pivoting around two fresh takes on the essential khaki pant, consists of five unisex apparel essentials — wide-leg and tapered khaki pants, a roomy trench coat, an oversized white button-front shirt with a drop shoulder and a white pocket T-shirt — plus a bucket hat and belt bag. Ranging from $60 to $600, the Dockers x Karla collection will be available as of Thursday, June 20, at Dover Street Market stores in Los Angeles and New York and xkarla.com.

No stranger to collaborations, Welch has previously teamed up with Levi’s on denim and Hanes on T-shirts (what she dubs “the very best in show”) to reinterpret wardrobe staples with her own Hollywood-tested style spin. “All of my projects are very autobiographical, about so many things that I've loved in my life, and the Dockers campaign looks a lot like where I grew up as a kid on coastal harbor,” said Welch to The Hollywood Reporter of the Dockers x Karla campaign shot by her husband, photographer Matthew Welch.

Karla Welch hails from Powell River on the Sunshine Coast of Canada, where she grew up selling, buying, creating window displays and more for her father’s menswear store, which he has owned for over 40 years. “It was a very formative part of my life; it's where I fell in love with clothes," she said. "Growing up loving movies, I always clocked in my memory the way Fred Astaire's pants move at the bottom when he dances, which is the inspiration for the wide-leg pant. It’s that older leading-man look, also on Gene Kelly and Cary Grant, how their pants fit high around the waist.” 

The pocket tee hearkens back to a style worn by Welch's Uncle Bruno, while the bucket hat riffs on the Gilligan's Island signature that Welch has long adopted as a favorite topper.

"The trench coat is one of those pieces [honored] throughout cinematic history; this is a real kind of Columbo mackintosh that I love," said Welch. "And the little pleated pant is based on an old Dockers style that my father used to sell at the store, but it’s also how skater boys cut the bottom of their pants and wear them short. I have a lot of Japanese twill pants that I love, too. The shirt, minimalist but oversized, is an extension of how I dress. I’m definitely a tomboy. My whole family wears these pieces, so there’s a certain fluidness. They are a real blank slate of clothing.” 

A segue into the fact that the all-inclusive collection is gender-free, kind of a big deal in the corporate realm of Dockers. It’s all in the sizing (from extra-extra small to extra-extra large), which “took a little bit more work, but any changes takes a bit of work,” says Welch. Fit is the other major element, hitting that sweet spot that can be worn anywhere from high on the waist to low on the hips to fit most any body type and style.

“Having worked together on previous projects, Karla let us know it would be her dream to do a Dockers collaboration, and it was a natural next step in our partnership,” says Karyn Hillman, senior vp and chief product officer for all Levi Strauss & Co. brands “The collaboration taps into Karla’s past, referencing old films and styles from her childhood and it also draws inspiration from the Dockers archives.... From start to finish, there has been a genuine appreciation for each other’s expertise, and the end result is a timeless, sophisticated and versatile collaboration that anyone can wear.”

Dockers has announced that a contribution will be made to The Trevor Project, a West Hollywood-based non-profit focused on suicide prevention in the LGBTQ young adult community, in honor of the Dockers x Karla collection.