Meet Kristen Cole
Chatting with the new President and Chief Creative Officer of Forty Five Ten and Tenoversix
She’s an LA native who’s lived and worked on both coasts, but after calling Austin home the last three years, Kristen Cole has earned the right to a ten-gallon welcome. An art collector, yogi, electric-car-driving mother of two—Cole is also refreshingly down-to-earth. You’ll discover that for yourself when you catch her visiting one of the stores, grabbing a matcha at Weekend Coffee, or hosting a curated pop-up at FIG during Dallas Art Fair in April. In the meantime, an intro…
For people who don’t know you, can you give us a brief bio?
I’ve been working in fashion nearly twenty years, dating back to college internships. I’ve worked across the industry on the creative side in fashion design, editorial styling, commercial styling, buying, interior design, and creative direction. My true loves are fashion, design, and art (and of course my sons and husband). My career and education started in New York City at NYU, followed by Parsons School of Design. My husband, Joe Cole, and I launched Tenoversix as the first concept shop of its kind in Los Angeles, in 2008. We’re just about to hit our ten-year anniversary! I lived between New York and Los Angeles until three years ago, when I moved to Austin. Texas is now my home, y’all.
Forty Five Ten and TenOverSix share more than just names that feature numbers. Both place tremendous value on creativity and craft. How do you see them in relation to each other?
I see them evolving as sister stores, i.e. the big sister to the little sister—Balenciaga to Vetements, Prada to Miu Miu. They might live side-by-side or independently, depending on the market and footprint. The two brands are actually very complementary. Forty Five Ten is the space to curate an elevated mix of designer, luxury, and more elegant emerging brands. We’ll take a directional, edited approach to the buy and infuse a modern and compelling design to the store presentation. We’ll also celebrate art in an impactful way.
Tenoversix will continue to focus on emerging brands—the very early and raw talent across fashion and design. Tenoversix will be physically smaller in size, specific, and esoteric—a laboratory for ideas and concepts. This is where customers can be introduced to new ideas, the best independent fashion and design magazines, bits of what’s cool across youth culture around the world, and delve into curated design worlds.
If we could peek inside your closet, what are some of the things we’d see in multiples?
Oh gosh, too much of everything. I work in fashion to feed my addiction, ha! I wear a lot of Rachel Comey, Maryam Nassir Zadeh, Nomia, Sies Marjan, Sandy Liang, Eckhaus Latta, Celine, Dries, and assorted vintage.
You’re joining Forty Five Ten at a time of huge growth. An e-com website is scheduled to launch this summer, and a New York store in Hudson Yards is coming in 2019. That has to be both very exciting and slightly daunting…
Ha! Yes, I’ve jumped onto a fast-moving train for sure. Strangely, I’m so clear on where we’re going that I’m not too stressed. I’m just extremely busy at the moment and trying to make the most out of the limited hours in the day. Our e-com design is headed in an awesome direction. Just this morning we had some compelling design breakthroughs working with our digital art director out of London. The new site is going to be KILLER. I also worked with my husband (who’s a Headington creative consultant and all-around amazing person!) and our two very talented architectural firms to quickly redesign the Hudson Yards store. The space is going to be a true experience. I’m beyond excited by this opportunity, what a dream.
What in your mind sets Forty Five Ten apart from other luxury retailers?
The fact that a boutique based in Dallas has earned an international reputation for fashion leadership and is about to launch in New York makes us pretty unique right there. Our edit celebrates innovators and creators not only in fashion but also books, design, beauty, jewelry… Hospitality and the connectivity with art are also integral to the brand. Forty Five Ten’s ownership supports the arts in a variety of impactful ways. Tim Headington is a committed collector with an incredible eye, who’s placed original art throughout his hotels, stores, and restaurants. You may have noticed the 30-foot eyeball right outside our door! Joe and I collect, too. He’s a new board member at The Contemporary Austin, and keenly focused on the interaction of art, architecture, and design. That connection to the art world and the new edit will set Forty Five Ten apart from the pack.
In what ways do you think Forty Five Ten will stay true to its heritage? How do you think it might change or evolve?
It will always keep its Dallas core DNA, which I translate as fearless, bold fashion. I’m looking forward to catching up with Brian Bolke, who co-founded Forty Five Ten in 2000, to hear his thoughts about the best elements of the store’s heritage. I see the evolution of FFT toward a more modern, experiential, and directional place—which I look forward to sharing more fully in its new iteration this fall.
Will you continue to live in Austin? What do find most intriguing or exciting about Dallas?
Yes, but I’ll be spending more time in Dallas, and also in NYC with the Hudson Yards opening. I’m already there every other month, and a lot of our friends and family are there. I’ve also spent a good deal of time in Dallas over the past five years with Tenoversix at the Joule Hotel and my husband’s work with Headington Cos. We’re fortunate to have developed wonderful friendships and support here. I love the energy of Dallas—the art scene, the collectors, the food… The people I’ve met are bold, smart, generous, passionate, and fashionable. What’s not to love?
Have you had a chance to shop at Forty Five Ten since being named president? What did you buy?
A Sies Marjan “Sander” shirt. It’s an oversized button-down named for the label’s designer, Sander Lak, who does a different version every season. And I’ve already placed a few personals since we are mid-market.
You head to Paris for fall collections this week. Anything you’re particularly hoping to see or discover?
I’m excited to see a few new lines for both Tenoversix and Forty Five Ten, and some of our pillar brands for Forty Five Ten. It will be a nice first trip working a bit with both buying teams, which is literally the best of both worlds. I’m looking forward to drinks and dinners with fashion friends, the coffee, the wine, the cheese…
What three qualities do you believe got you where you are today?
Discipline. Imagination. Collaboration.