Global Fashion Icon
The legendary Karl Kani has truly gone from rags to riches. Known as the architect of Urban Fashion, he now finds himself looking over the billion dollar industry that he created. He is a visionary of many first…the first to develop the baggy jean concept, the first urban fashion company to employ an all-black sales…
The legendary Karl Kani has truly gone from rags to riches. Known as the architect of Urban Fashion, he now finds himself looking over the billion dollar industry that he created. He is a visionary of many first…the first to develop the baggy jean concept, the first urban fashion company to employ an all-black sales force, the first designer to host a fashion show at the White House during President Bill Clinton’s term, yet above all, he is the first black American to spread Urban Fashion globally!!
Today, Karl Kani sits as CEO of Karl & Kai Kani, Inc. & Karl Kani, USA Headquartered in Los Angeles, California, Kani serves as the sole designer, choosing fabric, overseeing production and spearheading all marketing while owning all trademarks to his brand world-wide.
Growing up in Brooklyn Kani’s style was inspired by Hip-Hop and street culture; apparel in this aesthetic was nowhere to be found. Without adequate clothing options, 16-year old Williams decided to make his own clothes. Friends and strangers took notice of his unique threads, and Williams soon began taking orders. He yearned to take this hobby to the next level and would ask himself the question, “Can I do it?” With more and more demand from the public for his wares, he gained the confidence to move forward. He eventually answered that incessant question, “Yes I can,” and committed himself to the challenge by legally changing his name to Karl Kani. In 1989, under his new moniker, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue this passion more seriously.
At the 1991 MAGIC Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, he met Carl Jones of Cross Colours. Without hesitation, Jones had Kani head up his own division and create collections under the name Karl Kani. Between 1991 and 1994, Kani brought in 40% of Colours’ total earnings. In 1994 Kani left the Cross Colours to start his own label. In 2002, Kani introduced “Life”, a new clothing line that earned Kani the Urban Fashion Pioneer Award.
In that same year, Kani was requested at the White House to present his collection to President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, cabinet staffers, and others during the Afro-Latino Summit Briefing. The brand has more than its share of fans. Karl Kani has adorned Will Smith, LL Cool J, Sean “Puffy” Combs, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Ed Lover (and the rest of the Hip-Hop Greats). All of whom still pay homage to Kani by either following in his footsteps in creating their own fashion labels or proudly donning his clothing. Celebrities have stylishly flaunted his clothing on the pages of Us Weekly, Essence, The Source and XXL’s Hip-Hop Soul. Kani has been covered editorially in WWD, The Los Angeles Times, The Source, Fortune, Black Enterprise, People, Vibe, and XXL.
Today the Karl Kani brand has spread internationally throughout 25 countries in Europe and 13 flagship stores in Japan, including one in Harajuku, and unlike many other high-end brands Karl Kani has stayed true to his label. His passion for quality, design and craftsmanship has meant that, Kani continues to produce all his garments in the US.
Company of the Year – Black Enterprise Magazine
Top 100 Richest African Americans – People Magazine
Top 15 Most Definitive Sportswear Brands – Vibe Magazine
Top 50 Most Influential People in Fashion – Sportswear Magazine
First fashion designer to have their sneakers branded on NBA players
2002 Recipient of Urban Fashion Pioneer Award for his lifetime achievements
First fashion designer invited to the White House to showcase their line to the President
Ernie was perfect for our Elders Conference at Little River Casino Resort in Manistee, Michigan. We will definitely be using PDA again!
LITTLE RIVER BAND OF OTTAWA INDIANS
Our speaker was great and the crowd enjoyed her! She was very engaging. Thank you again PDA for the great list of suggestions!
Everything went great! and our speaker was wonderful! Thank you so much for all your help PDA! Looking forward to the next one.
UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI – KANSAS CITY
I hope that this message finds you well. We had a phenomenal time with Atsuko this past Thursday. We wanted to just let you know how amazing she was. All those that were in attendance thoroughly enjoyed her and had nothing but amazing things to say about her. Thank you for working with us to make sure this happened!
BAYLOR UNIVERSITY CAMPUS
We had a fantastic day with Inge! She was very engaging with all those that attended. Her personal stories about the holocaust were very special and we were moved that she was willing to share them with everyone. Thank you again, PDA for all your hard work and dedication to make this program such a success!
SALT LAKE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Dear PDA Group, Thank you so much for your hard work in scheduling our speaker! From the moment we reached out to you the first time, you worked with us on all details and logistics and kept us up-to-date on the progress. Thank you for all your hard work on making our event such a success! We couldn't have done it without you and your team!
Thank you again, Dr. Kimbrough, for a great presentation, our attendees are still talking about it!
Dr. Henry Lee's presentation was entertaining, insightful and wise. I, and everyone at Pfizer, especially appreciate the remarks you directed about following your passion and preparing yourself to excel. Thank you, everyone, at PDA for helping to make this happen!
The event was successful! I received many messages expressing how awesome, outstanding and inspiring Ms. Webb-Christburg's speech was."
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. MEMORIAL BREAKFAST, BOSTON, MLK SPEAKER
Everything went well. Atsuko was very easy to work with and the students enjoyed her performance! Thank you again for your recommendation and I hope to work with you again in the future!
CENTRAL MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
Dr. Novello left this morning after a very successful event on our campus! Thank you PDA Group for your help from the first phone to the last you were with us every step of the way.
GRAND VALLEY STATE UNIVERSITY
Jordan Carlos was very very entertaining! A majority of students who answered the event survey indicated they really enjoyed Jordan and definitely will bring him back!
WESTERN CAROLINA UNIVERSITY
On behalf of myself and my organization Entertainment Unlimited the Campus Programming Board of Ferris State University, we thank you PDA and Dan for a successful event!! Dan was magnificent! Students really enjoyed the presentation. I know I did. Can't wait to bring in more programs with PDA Group.
FERRIS STATE UNIVERSITY
It was a great pleasure to work with PDA Group! The communication was always prompt, friendly and helpful. We loved the speakers and events we booked through Mr. Peter Walker (PDA Group).
WESTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
Thank you, Peter, for all your help, you'll be happy to know that the event went incredibly well! Aneesa Ferreira was by far one of the best speakers we've ever had!
An Evening with Karl Kani, Fashion Icon
1 HOUR OR LESS