What began as a mundane graphics class project is now a trending label which reinforces the timeless truth: “The house always wins” — even in the fashion world.
Four and a half years ago, Tim LeNoir, UNF alumni, started designing silkscreen prints on T-shirts, fulfilling a class assignment to create a fictitious company.
He began playing around with different themes inspired by beach life and his fascination with World War II. As an allusion to the popular American graffiti found on new weapons and conquered French cities during wartime … LeNoir birthed Kilroy.
“UNF helped [Kilroy] to start in kind of a weird way,” said Vince LeNoir, a UNF public relations alumni and Tim’s brother.
Simple, casual designs created by makeshift tools, like a silkscreen fashioned out of a dresser drawer, soon evolved into hand-sewn originals as their brother Jesse used his skill learned from sewing costumes at UCF.
It wasn’t long before all six siblings in the LeNoir family started collaborating their ideas and talents, building the House of Kilroy – which has every intention to win.
The oldest sibling, Brandon, lives in Manhattan and handles marketing. Esther, the second youngest down the LeNoir sibling line, studies fashion design at FSU and also has a hand in designing and sewing for HOK. And the youngest, Mallory, 15, has dived into learning her way around a sewing machine and just started a project redesigning high heels purchased from thrift stores.
“It’s kept us as a tightly knit family,” Vince said. “I couldn’t be happier with my business partners.”
He said the copious chain e-mails and long-distance phone calls allow close communication throughout the Kilroy clan whilst rapping about business and whatever else.
All of the Kilroy kids have every intention to pursue the proliferation of HOK as a full time career in the long run, Vince said.
Initially, the Kilroy name began spreading around Jacksonville as stickers and tags found their homes on stop signs, cars, restaurant walls, anywhere and everywhere.
“We’re a company name built off stickers,” Tim said.
However, a woman’s high-end fashion line has now become their priority. Ten new designs for women and a new Web site – houseofkilroy.com — launch this December. A line of graphic T-shirts with themes from ’50s and ’60s crime novels and film noir styles is also in the works, with each graphic including a fictional story explaining its origination.
Jeff Earley, a UNF public relations junior, said HOK is the only local brand he wears. His favorite shirt has a B-52 bomber graphic, which he said is simple, yet creative.
“It’s pretty cool when you see a sticker on someone’s car that you don’t know, or someone’s wearing your shirt that you don’t know,” Vince said.
Earley said he sees Kilroy stickers often when he drives around Jacksonville Beach.
“Tim could definitely contribute a lot of credit to UNF from taking graphics classes,” Vince said.
The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens hosted HOK’s line-up in their annual Up and Cummer Fashion Forward, which features local designers from 2005 – 2007. Now, they have their sights set higher for national recognition.
It’s a dream for the HOK to one day have their line presented in Fashion Week.
Both of the family’s grandfathers and their great uncle served in the U.S. military during World War II, sparking so much creativity within the vital organs of Kilroy. Perhaps the inherent ability to win runs through their bloodline. Only time will tell.
“Let people know to look out for us in the next six months or so,” Vince said.