INDIANAPOLIS — Walk into any Abercrombie & Fitch store around the world today and you’ll see the creations of an Indy local gracing the shelves. Fashion influencer Kathleen Post had a hand in designing pieces that are now featured in the fall collection bearing her name, Abercrombie x Kathleen Post that launched Thursday.
“This is seriously such a 'pinch me' moment,” Post said of seeing her own designs displayed for the first time at The Keystone Fashion Mall. “It's a dream come true. I could have never imagined creating my own collection that's being sold in Europe, Canada, all over the country in stores and online. Truly, it boggles my mind."
Post said Abercrombie & Fitch executives first reached out to her a year ago to start designing clothes for the collection. Her relationship with the brand began back in 2017, when she started featuring their clothes and products on her Instagram.
“It was maybe about six months after I had been consistently sharing them that Abercrombie noticed, and they reached out and they said, 'Oh, hey, we saw that you like our stuff. We'd love to work with you in some way.' And that was still such a long time ago. But, since then, we've just kind of done little partnerships over the years."
While Post eventually went on to design her own pair of jeans for Abercrombie & Fitch in 2020, the process for the Abercrombie x Kathleen Post collection was more intensive. She flew out to A&F Headquarters in Columbus, Ohio last November to start working with designers on their team, and had a say in what colors, fabrics and patterns should be included.
Post said it wasn't as though the company splashed her name on a collection and called it a day — they gave her a hands-on say on some of the smallest details that made her feel it truly embodied her own fashion sense.
“Everything from how things are cut, to how it lays on your body. The strap details, everything. And it was really cool working with the design team because they would actually design it right there in front of me on the computer,” Post said.
Post said it was a wonderful experience getting to be part of the design process from the very beginning to now, and that the collaboration features keystones of her own personal style: elevated, chic and effortless pieces that can last all year.
"Sometimes with fashion, it can just feel like really wild and like, 'Oh, that's cool. I could never wear that.' That's not how I like to dress, and I didn't want someone to look at this collection and say, 'Oh, I could never pull that off.' I wanted this to be something that anyone can wear and style in their own way," Post said.
Her collection with the brand comes as Abercrombie & Fitch experiences a resurgence in popularity. Years of restructuring efforts and the introduction of inclusive initiatives helped reingratiate the brand to a new, Gen-Z audience.
At the end of August, it was reported Abercrombie & Fitch saw a net sales growth of 16%, and that their net income for the three-month period rose to $56.9 million. The company anticipated net sales would rise by about 10% for the full fiscal year, up from $3.7 billion in the prior year, according to a report from CNBC.
"We’ve talked about it before, but we are no longer a jeans and T-shirt brand,” CEO Franz Horowitz told CNBC in an interview. “We certainly are a lifestyle brand today."
It makes sense, then, that lifestyle and fashion influencers like Post have contributed to the company's rise in popularity. Harnessing the power of influencers like Post, who are skilled at nurturing consumer loyalty inside their own corners of the internet, has allowed the company to connect with her more than 400,000 Instagram and 150,000 TikTok followers, whom she worked to form a relationship with.
"Here I am, what, eight years later, and having this collaboration with Abercrombie is truly nothing that I could have even thought of," Post said.
It wasn't a sudden, meteoric rise for Post in the beginning, she said. When she starting posting on Instagram in 2015, influencing was still in it's infancy — TikTok didn't exist, let alone vertical videos or stories.
She didn't see results initially, but kept pushing. It paid off.
"I think something I always tried to remind myself when I was getting started is that this is not some quick, overnight success thing. If it's something you really love, you'll be willing to work on it for the long haul," Post said. "I don't have the most followers in the world, but I have my audience, and they seem to resonate with my personal style. Trust that it's not an overnight thing. But when you are adding value to people, you'll find the right people."
And for an Indiana University grad who stayed in the state, she said it's been empowering to know that she can make a dent in the fashion space without leaving home.
"I think it's a huge honor. Sometimes you can feel, oh who am I, just living in the Midwest or living in Indiana? I need to live in New York or L.A. or one of these bigger cities to be noticed. But the thing is, is people in Indiana like to shop too. There's opportunities everywhere," Post said.
Having her own collection with Abercrombie & Fitch reaffirmed what she said is her favorite part of having become an influencer — helping everyday people navigate what their personal style means and providing inspiration all the while.
"That's the thing I love most about my job is being able to put together an outfit that someone can easily recreate, and feel like they have a little bit more confidence when they're getting ready in the day," Post said. "It's brought tears to my eyes just reading their messages. So that's truly the best part of this all."