Power Stylist Karla Welch Is Launching a "Democratic Shirt" With Help From Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber Meritocracy - Split - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of Matthew Welch/Meritocracy

The tees will be the first in a series of product launches the stylist is introducing under her new label xKarla.

Stylist Karla Welch has worked her magic on many superstars, including Justin Bieber, Lorde and Ruth Negga. And now, she’s working her magic on the superstar of every wardrobe, the white T-shirt, with her first fashion product launch, a surprisingly affordable brand collaboration with Hanes.

"This is an item I want in my life … and it’s one thing I have experience making — white T-shirts," Welch tells The Hollywood Reporter.

Her T-shirt making skills reach back to when she first started working with Bieber, and helped to elevate him from bad-boy teen hearthrob to serious fashion plate setting trends in drop-crotch pants and Hood by Air hoodies.


Milano #fbf

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"We wanted something oversized but not super crazy … but where we ran into trouble was finding the right fabric. We both loved Hanes white cotton T-shirts," explains Welch, adding that her solution was to buy XXXL Hanes shirts, cut them up and remake them for the star, and that she has probably made 600 shirts for him over the years. "By the time the Purpose tour came along, we had this love of T-shirts together," she says, praising his fashion sense as "totally fearless," and adding "there are very few menswear lines that haven't been built on [his style]."

Cut to Welch's aha moment: "I said I should do a T-shirt based on the ones we did for Justin, I asked Hanes if they wanted to make it for me … and within a week, we had Justin’s team and Hanes on board."

Appearing in his first fashion campaign since Calvin Klein Underwear, Bieber is the face for the launch, joined by Kaia Gerber and Joan Smalls, who together model an array of $30 styles sized XS to XXL, including oversized, baby tees, crops and sleeveless crops.

"The whole process has been about making a white shirt for everybody … that’s affordable to everyone," says Welch. "One style has a tight ringer neck and is quite fitted to the body, based on similar shirts worn back in the day by Grace Kelly, Carolyn Bessette and Winona Ryder. It’s a harder cotton, and it feels vintage and industrial. Another style is a crop, based on one that I like to wear myself."

Working with U.S. brand Hanes, founded in North Carolina in 1901, also appealed to Welch, who has become particularly outspoken about politics on her social media channels in the wake of the presidential election, even encouraging high-profile clients such as Negga and Sarah Paulson to wear ACLU ribbons on the red carpet. "It's a democratic shirt," she says of her latest project.

The shirts will be the first in a series of product launches for the stylist under her new label xKarla. It will be sold at xKarla.com and at Maxfield.

"We have a tagline that 'classics never die,'" Welch says. "I’m not a designer, but I know a T-shirt, I know what I feel is missing in my closet."