Zapped Outfitters is a Kootenay-based company making kids streetwear with secret superpowers. And its creator has worked for some of the largest brands in the biz.
Scarlet Kux-Kardos, a local of Nelson, British Columbia, is the brainchild of Zapped Outfitters, a brand that’s redefined kids clothing and accessories. Each article she’s created, from jackets to backpacks, features microscopic glass beads embedded in the fabric that reflect light at night. It’s the first line of fully reflective active gear for kids.
Scarlet is a designer who’s worked for such sports apparel companies as Under Armour, Marmot, Outdoor Research, and Columbia but it wasn’t until she had a child of her own that she decided to launch a kids line that emphasizes being seen at night. The collection includes a jacket, ball cap, beanie, backpack, slip-on sneaker and fleece-lined high top, and each features 100% all-over tonal reflective materials. They allow kids to be seen from head to toe, especially in the darker winter months. The line is targeted to children between the ages of six and 12.
We caught up with Scarlet to ask her more questions about her involvement in the textile industry and how the Zapped brand came to be.
Hey Scarlet, tell us how you got involved in the textile industry?
Oddly enough the first thing I ever designed was a pair of pants for a stuffed elephant toy. One of my grandmothers was incredibly fashionable and crafty so she helped me with them. My great Aunt was a fashion designer in Paris and my other grandmother worked in a dress factory in Germany before she was married. So it may have been in my blood. After the elephant pants I moved on to dressing my dolls, then my little sister, and eventually myself. I went to design school in Vancouver and then finished up with a few courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. After that I moved back Vancouver in the mid-90s and worked in the snowboard industry for brands like Westbeach, NFA, Arson, and Dub to name a few. It was a very exciting time to be part of the action sports industry and I’ve worked with so many incredible brands, people and categories since then.
Who are some of your clients?
I’ve worked with Outdoor Research on and off since 2012. and have designed many of their apparel categories, but most recently am leading the style direction for their more performance/Urban collection. We just finished the SP20 collection, so I’m usually designing at least 1-2 years in advance. Also Under Armour — it’s such a well-known brand but they’re true leaders of innovation and functional fashion. I worked on their “Mountain Lifestyle” collection which targeted a younger crowd so I could have a bit more fun and make things a bit more edgy. I did a few seasons with Marmot in their snow sports category and K-SWISS designing their men’s and women’s Tennis, running and training categories. During my time there, they partnered with celebrity fitness trainer Jillian Michaels and I designed a signature collection for her. It was an eye-opening experience to go to her house in the Hollywood hills from little Nelson. Some of the other brands I have designed for include Sombrio, Sugoi, Specialized, Columbia, Obermeyer, Brooks, Nordica, Beach Body and several micro brands you probably haven’t heard of.
What do you do for them?
I guess for all brands I do a variety of things, but generally its the actual garment design. Sometimes this comes down to the trims used, the colour palette and even the over-all creative direction for the season. After I pass along my concepts and they are approved, I build tech packs (or blueprints) which the developers will send to the factory to have the prototypes made. Once I review those, the project more or less goes back “in-house” to the product line managers and developers and before you know it, it’s “in a store near you.” In all honesty I often don’t even recognize the products I have designed, generally because so much time has passed by the time it hits the shelves, but there are also all sorts of changes that can happen from the initial concepts, design and prototype. It’s really a huge team effort to get the products you are wearing every day.
While launching the brand was percolating in my mind, my husband was literally hit by lightning! It was pretty crazy! He survived but it sort of jolted me into just doing it now or never. So the brand and its name were born!
Where did the idea of Zapped come from?
It’s kind of a multi-chapter story, but it really did spark from looking for a rain jacket for my own kid. At that time I was working with a few brands using this all-over reflective material for running and biking products. It was just so cool to see the fabric reveal this hidden print when hit with light, but otherwise it looked like a normal jacket. As a mom, living through the dark winters, I thought it was too bad I couldn’t buy one of these jackets for my kid. Brands like Nike, New Balance and Lululemon were using this type of reflective print but no one was doing it specifically for kids. While launching the brand was percolating in my mind, my husband was literally hit by lightning! It was pretty crazy! He survived but it sort of jolted me into just doing it now or never. So the brand and its name were born! The look of the fabric lighting up really looks like a flash of lightning!
How is the reflective material made and inserted into the products?
The custom-designed print is embedded with glass beads, making the fabric fully reflective. It’s also woven to have a rugged streetwear look, with a waterproof coating. The reflective print works the same way that high-visibility reflective tape or the paint on street signs works. It’s called retroreflection, which occurs when a significant amount of reflected light is returned directly to the original light source. An example is when a car’s headlights hit the reflective material, the millions of microscopic glass beads that make up the custom print refract the light and the silver paint underneath becomes light reflecting. It’s different from glow-in-the-dark in the way that the fabric is always reflecting, however you will only see the reflection if your eyes are lined up with the light source. This is why using the flash on a camera or video shows the reflecting print, since the lens and the light are coming from the same point.
Will their ever be an adult line of Zapped? (No doubt some festival goers would love it.)
You’re not the first person to ask about the adult line. I totally agree that the EDM festivals would be a huge hit! But one brand is all I can manage for now. I am certainly seeing a huge trend in reflective materials from many leading brands, so I’m sure someone else will do that in no time. Fitting in this endeavour while still maintaining my design studio has been quite the challenge. I heard a great saying that I can totally relate to: “Starting a company is like throwing yourself off a cliff and assembling an airplane on the way down.” Once my plane is built, perhaps I will branch out.
For more information about Zapped, and its partnerships with such non-profits as Backpack Buddies and Ruben Shoes,visit zappedoutfitters.com.