Khloe talks with The Los Angeles Times

Jay L. Clendenin
Khloé Kardashian at Lax aiportKhloé Kardashian at Lax aiportKhloé Kardashian at Lax aiportKhloé Kardashian at Lax aiport
latimes.com: As a teenager, Khloe Kardashian didn’t look like the other girls in her family. She towered over her petite sisters and wore a size 12 — sometimes a 14. In Calabasas, the posh suburb where she grew up, most stores didn’t stock anything larger than a size 8.

“‘Oh, we don’t carry your size here,’” she said the salespeople would sneer. “You feel like [crap], especially when you’re with your sisters who never have body problems. When we’d have photo shoots, there would be racks and racks of beautiful garments for them and then, like, nothing for me. I was like, ‘I don’t care how big I am, I still want to feel cool and trendy and fashionable.’”

Today, Kardashian is hailed as something of a fitness icon. Over the last few years, she has lost about 40 pounds. She wrote a bestselling book about her body transformation, and she shares her workout routines daily with her fans on Snapchat. Still, her memories of the period when stylists wouldn’t dress her remain.

How Khloé meet Emma Grede

So when she was approached about collaborating on a denim line for women of all sizes, she was intrigued. The call came from Emma Grede, the 34-year-old British chief executive of ITB, an entertainment marketing firm that connects brands and celebrities. Grede had proximity to the denim world: Her husband, Jens Grede, is co-founder of Frame, a denim label whose skinny jeans are favorites of models including Karlie Kloss and Miranda Kerr. And Grede already had a connection to the Kardashians: At ITB, she’d worked on a number of deals with family matriarch Kris Jenner.

“I had an idea of creating this brand for myself because I love denim, and I thought, ‘If I have problems getting jeans to fit, there must be people who have similar issues buying denim,’” recalled Emma Grede, sitting on a couch next to Kardashian. “I felt very strongly about working with somebody who I really believe embodies the idea of curvy being beautiful, and I just thought Khloe was the perfect person.”

Last month, the two business partners talked about their new venture, Good American, in a two-story townhouse at the Sunset Tower Hotel. The room was chaotic: News crews shuffled in-and-out, difficult to differentiate from the E! crew filming for Season 13 of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” There were about a dozen assistants, publicists and handlers roaming about too — some touching up Kardashian’s makeup, others fiddling with the racks of jeans on display.

Kardashian, 32, is often approached about potential fashion collaborations. In addition to the Dash clothing boutiques she runs with her sisters, Kim and Kourtney, she’s also worked on the now-defunct Kardashian Kollection for Sears and helps out with Kardashian Kids, which sells at retailers such as Babies R Us. So when Grede wanted to partner with Kardashian on Good American, Jenner said she’d have to run the idea by Khloe face-to-face.

“When I met Emma, I really loved her soul and what she stood for, as corny as it sounds,” said Kardashian, reflecting on the duo’s first meeting at an office in Culver City. “I didn’t believe we needed just another great denim line. I believed we needed a great denim line that actually was gonna [be] a platform for something positive. And I love that we’re knocking down the barriers of not saying ‘plus size’ and just having standard sizing, because I really hope that does catch on [with] other designers.”

The Good American label, whose denim prices range from $149 to $215 per pair, offers sizing from 0 to 24. The company’s jeans are made from European fabrics but are designed, cut, sewn and washed in L.A. There are three product styles: the skinny jean (Good Legs), the boyfriend fit (Good Cuts) and high-waisted (Good Waist). The line is available for purchase on the company’s website as well as at Nordstrom, which Kardashian and Grede decided was a good fit because the Seattle-based retailer was one of a few willing to offer the full size run in stores.

“If you go to any department store and go into the premium denim section, there is nothing above a size 8 or 10, if you’re lucky,” Grede said. “For us, that was unthinkable. That was unmodern. It’s not the way women shop. Why would you go into two different places if you’re two girls shopping on a Saturday afternoon?”

“When I was younger, feeling fat-shamed? It’s embarrassing,” added Kardashian. “So I was big on, ‘Don’t give me false promises.’ I’ve worked with people where they’re like, ‘The buyer only picked up until a size 8,’ and it’s like, ‘Well, what about my messaging?’”

The partners also agreed that they wanted real women to model their jeans, so Kardashian posted a casting call on her social media channels earlier this year. More than 12,000 women sent in submissions, and then 250 were invited to interview with Kardashian and Grede.

“We really wanted girls that actually have the same values as we do,” Grede said. “Girls who were proud of themselves regardless of their shape.”

“It’s not just about a look,” Kardashian said. “We would cyber stalk them afterwards and be like, ‘Do we believe in their messaging? Do we want this person in our squad?’”

Members of the Good Squad, as the group is now called, were on hand to show off the denim line at the Grove last month. It’s a comely group of diverse women that includes Kardashian’s best friend, Malika Haqq. During the event, which drew a crowd of hundreds, Jenner came on stage to interview Grede and Kardashian about their denim line, saying repeatedly how proud she was of her daughter.

“I remember shopping with her at a store nearby where we live, and they never had anything above a 6,” Jenner recalled a few days after the event at the Grove. “For a young girl, that’s a recipe for disaster. It’s heartbreaking. You want your kids to be happy and you have the experience of going out and shopping for back-to-school or for a special event — you want them to feel good about themselves and have an amazing body image. So this isn’t just a fashion brand for her. It’s a brand with a purpose.”

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