How K-Deer became an Instagram it-brand

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Photo: Instagram@beyogaatl

Wondering why your Instagram feed is filled with women wearing striped leggings? You’re not alone—in fact, Kristine Deer herself, the designer-turned-yogi behind K-Deer, is just as surprised at the popularity of her brand’s signature workout tight.

Photo: K-Deer

Especially because she originally created them out of necessity. “As an avid hot yoga practitioner, I found my clothing options very limited,” Deer, a Barkan Method hot yoga teacher, remembers. “Everything had either cotton or polyester in the fabric—and for as much as I sweat, I found nothing that wouldn’t stretch out. Or worse: [it would] smell.”

So she set about making her own—and the Syracuse fashion design grad wasn’t about to just stick to black capris. “We wanted to offer prints that were not boring or generic, and hoped to bring in this feeling of fashion because it seemed like I was always wearing my activewear, even after class,” she says.

As Deer developed her line—which featured not just stripes, but other bold prints too—she was testing them with her yoga instructors and fellow students to get their feedback. Without a celebrity spokeswoman or tons of marketing fanfare, K-Deer launched in 2013. And then: Inventory sold so quickly that the new company’s website crashed.

Why? First of all, one of her yogi friends was Instagram star Laura Kasperzak (AKA @laurasykora, who has 1.1 million followers), whom she met through mutual friends in 2013 just as Instagram was taking off.

Photo: Instagram/@laurasykora
One of the K-Deer IG crew: @laurasykora, with 1.1 million followers. Photo: Instagram/@laurasykora

“A bunch of us would get together just to hang, take pictures—and everyone would give me feedback on what prints they liked most,” explains Deer. “And since then, Laura has always naturally been someone who’s helped share the brand authentically because she enjoys wearing the pants and being photographed in them.”

Photo: Instagram/@fitqueenirene
One of the K-Deer IG crew: @fitqueenirene, with 513,000 followers. Photo: Instagram/@fitqueenirene

Kasperzak was instrumental in spreading the word among the tribe that would ultimately become K-Deer’s marketing engine—Instagram yogis and the thousands who follow them. In other words: No expensive celebrity endorsements needed. (Although the brand does have big-name fans, including actresses Liv Tyler and Alexa Vega, as well as reality star-turned-chef Lauren “Lo” Bosworth.)

“Our community of followers has been growing organically because we speak directly to the woman who wears us, no matter where she is from, what size she is, or what she does to stay fit or fashionable,” says Deer, whose leggings range in size from XS to 4XL.

Photo: Instagram/@nolatrees
One of the K-Deer IG crew: @nolatrees, with 189,000 followers. Photo: Instagram/@nolatrees

What makes K-Deer so perfect for this Instagram era? Is it the super-simple, bold, striped design? The fit that’s flattering in a wide range of sizes (thus appealing to a larger number of ‘Grammers)? Or is it as simple as being in the right place at the right time, with some rising online yogis lending a helping hand?

“Women connect with the vibrancy of the print,” says Deer, who personally runs the brand’s Instagram account (with 56,000 followers and counting). “Our apparel makes a strong impact because it’s so visually delicious. And due to our vivid and beautiful colors and prints, it photographs so well.”

Photo: instagram/@k.deer
One of the K-Deer IG crew: @yogabeyond, with 348,000 followers. Photo: instagram/@k.deer

Deer’s current favorite pieces include the brand’s Bum Bum shorts (which look a bit like they sound: short-shorts that hug your backside like a full-coverage bikini bottom) and the long-length leggings (which wrap down around your feet), but she’ll always have a soft-spot for those signature stripes.

What’s next for the fashion designer, who’s been plotting other ideas since before even founding K-Deer? “We are in a really exciting place of taking the strong foundation we built and now growing our offering of styles,” she says. “I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve.” Or, as the case may be, up her leggings.

These bold prints might be great to wear when you do this badass Colleen Saidman Yee yoga sequence, which is designed to help you face your fears, or when you practice with one of the “bad girls” of yoga.

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