It’s hard to imagine that Kate Hudson, she of sunkissed, bohemian style, has ever gone through an awkward fashion phase. But even style icons have a cringeworthy moment or two they’d like to erase from their outfit history.
“Well, I did have a matching T-shirt and boxer short phase — I even wore them with Tevas,” Hudson says, laughing. “But don’t worry, it was a long time ago, and it only lasted, like, five seconds.”
Thankfully, Hudson, who turns 40 on April 19, hasn’t skipped a fashion beat since, delivering decade after decade of free-spirited fashion goals. Now, she’s turned her signature vibe into a business, launching her very first ready-to-wear collection, Happy x Nature, available online now and in select New York and Company stores.
“I've wanted to do a ready-to-wear line for a really long time,” Hudson told InStyle at a preview for her new collection in NYC. “From the beginning, I always knew I wanted it to be available to everybody, on a bigger, more inclusive scale. And I also wanted to be mindful about how we created the pieces, which meant that it needed to be eco-friendly, too.”
With this in mind, Hudson teamed up with Michele Manz, the former head designer of Italian fashion house Alberta Ferretti, to help her build her vision from the ground up. Since Hudson wanted the collection to feel like an extension of her own closet, one of the first things that Manz did was create a detailed breakdown of everything Hudson actually wears in her day-to-day life. “Michele said that I had four different aspects to my style: the glam side that’s very body-conscious; the athletic side; the denim, utilitarian side because I live in jeans; and then the boho side, which is what a lot of people know me as.”
Ultimately, the boho vibes won out, and Hudson worked with Manz to dream up their first spring collection full of breezy jumpsuits, linen rompers, ruffled tops, and frayed-hem denim that looks right at home on the actress, who also co-founded the athleisure line Fabletics in 2013. Fit was a top priority for the star, who took a hands-on approach, trying on piece after piece herself to make sure that each one hung just right. After Hudson gave birth to daughter Rani Rose in October, she'd chime in on fittings remotely using WhatsApp, she says.
“It seems like my entire life has been trying on clothes and then getting them fit,” she says. “Even when I was a little girl, I would watch my mom [Goldie Hawn] get ready and it made me just fall in love with clothes. Just the other day, I was looking at my mom’s film Shampoo, and was like, ‘Oh my God, the fashion.’ As actors, there’s such attention to detail when you’re putting on a costume and creating these characters. You have to tell a story, so that’s what I wanted to do here too.”
Though the line is affordable, something that was important to Hudson (the collection ranges between $48 and $148), she wanted it to feel authentic to her aesthetic. “I wanted it to feel like it came from my closet,” she says. “So while the line is feminine, there’s still a utility to the clothes that’s easy to wear and can get a little more rugged too.”
Lately, she says she’s been living in the brand’s printed maxi dresses. “I call them muumuus, which coincidentally is what we also call Danny’s mom, as her grandma name,” she says, referencing her partner, musician Danny Fujikawa. “Just the other day I put one of our maxi dresses on with my Burberry trench and some boots and when I was walking around I started noticing a bunch of women looking at what I was wearing, which was so fun. I mean, maybe they were just thinking, ‘Oh, look it’s Kate Hudson.’ But I like to think it was the print that caught their eye.”
Hudson also hopes that the collection will help change shoppers’ minds about what sustainable fashion can look like. “We’re always looking for ways to lower our carbon footprint, so we used tons of recycled yarns, recycled cotton, and fabrics made out of plastic bottles,” she says gesturing to the Wanderlust blouse (below) that she was wearing that day. “This fabric is made by taking plastic bottles, grinding them down, and then remaking polyester fibers and you’d never know it. Isn’t that cool? It’s the future of fashion.”
The brand also uses eco-friendly fabric tags and ships garments in bio-degradable bags that will decompose in 12 to 18 months. For the fall collection, Hudson is working on what she calls “eco evening,” a sustainable approach to formal wear featuring an emerald green cocktail dress that could easily be a red carpet option for Hudson’s next big premiere.
In the spring collection however, Hudson’s favorite color, a sunny yellow shade, runs throughout the line. “I’ve always loved yellow because it’s such a happy color,” says Hudson. “In color therapy, it's our power center — the color of the sun, and the sun is what makes everything grow. I'm attracted to that energy, so I love to wear jewelry that has suns on it too.”
Of course, Hudson has had quite a few memorable moments in the color herself, most notably the soft yellow silk open-back gown that she wore in the beloved 2003 romcom, How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days, which launched dozens of early-aughts copycats.
Hudson says people still bring up the yellow gown to her today. “Literally a girl, about 18 years old, recently came up to me and said, ‘I just wore the yellow How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days dress to my prom.’ And I was like, ‘What? Still?’” she laughs. “I’ve worn yellow on the red carpet a few times since, like the Versace gown I wore to the Something Borrowed premiere, but I like to save it for special red carpet occasions now.”
Looking through the wide-leg jeans and peasant tops in the collection calls to mind another iconic character of Hudson’s: Penny Lane, from her Golden Globe-winning breakout role in 2000’s Almost Famous. A coincidence? Sort of. “I was wearing that kind of stuff way before I got that role,” she says, with a smile. “I swear I’ve been in bell-bottoms my whole life.”