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Dressing Chris Cognac Part 2: K. Kauff-men
Thursday, November 16, 2006 | posted by Mike

Last week, I shared with you some information about High Seas Trading Company, which makes a number of the shirts worn by Chris Cognac on The Hungry Detective. At that time, however, I said that wasn’t the whole story.

Chris also gets a number of his shirts from K.Kauff-men, a company run by Keith Kauffman, who you might say is a “superhero in reverse,” a crime fighter who is also a mild-mannered clothing designer. Well, we assume he’s mild-mannered. I just think that’s part of the superhero alter-ego requirements.

We spoke with Lieutenant Kauffman via e-mail about his designs and providing Chris Cognac with the clothing necessary to track down even the most elusive hidden cuisine.

TVFoodFan.com: First, can you give me a short introduction into who you are and what you do with the police force?

Keith Kauffman: I am a Police Lieutenant in Los Angeles County currently assigned as a patrol watch commander and commander of a SWAT team. Back in 1999, my wife and I decided to start a clothing company called K. Kauff-men. Originally it was a high-end casual collection geared to the 30-something guy and sold to small boutiques that would buy it. I did and still do the designing and my wife runs the business full time. We started selling to the Ritz Carlton and doing their poolside uniforms. They kept bugging us for a boys line and finally told them we would do it. We quickly figured out that high-end, American made, fashion forward boy's clothing was a niche that we were ready to fill. K. Kauff-men quickly took off and before we knew it, we were moving into a 5000 sq ft. warehouse and selling to store all over the country including places like Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. Today the company has sales reps in Los Angeles, Dallas, Colorado, New York, and Atlanta. We just launched a girl's line called Chandler Kaye and we produce clothing for girls, boys, and men from sizes 6 month to Chris Cognac!

TVFF: I was hoping you could give me a short description of exactly what you create for Chris. In other words, how can we tell when we're seeing a "Keith Kauffman" on the show?

KK: I have known Chris for a long time. I have seen his off-duty attire and shaken my head from side to side more than once. Be sure and ask him about the court 'get up' he used to wear as a detective. When he started his business he would continually bug me for big guy shirts with sort of crazy print like sushi or peppers. Not that I have anything against sushi or pepper print shirts, but it is just not the K. Kauff-men image that our company portrayed so I blew him off in the beginning. I ended up providing some shirts for "The Calorie Commando" on the Food Network and when Chris landed his show, I really got the pressure from him. You should have seen the look on my pattern maker's face when I gave her the specs! Our cutter at the warehouse was used to cutting shirts in the 2-toddler range and then I laid the pattern on him. The end result was a shirt that K. Kauff-man was really proud of. We used our high-end Italian and French fabrics and applied them to a big guy shirt and the result was pretty impressive. I think they bring a new level of fashion and credibility to Chris' awesome talents in the food industry. My goal was to tone down some of the prints and let the audience focus directly on Chris and the message he tells. You will be able to pick out the K. Kauff-men shirts by finding the ones that push the limits of color for what one would normally expect from a plus size shirt. Look for a great drape that slims and a crisp look that distinguishes.

TVFF: How did you start making shirts and how did it get around within the force?

KK: My wife comes from a background in the women's clothing industry on the retail side. We started making clothes for men and many of our first customers in 1999 were cops that I work with. Some of those guys are still wearing those 7-year-old designs! My department is unique in that we have people from all walks of life with many different interests. I'm labeled the "fashion designer" by day and "SWAT commander" by night, but I like it. The jokes in the beginning took a little thick skin, but I have the last laugh now. I was just asked today about what I have available for our upcoming Christmas party. You will see no less that 5 to 7 K. Kauff-men designs at every department function. I did an entire wedding party for an officer that got married in Cabo last week, and I even designed a custom bag for a piece of tactical equipment that another officer developed. It's a lot of fun being the department's fashion advisor. I get real popular around the holidays and during promotions when some of the guys want some direction on what to wear.

TVFF: How did Chris approach you about using your shirts on the show?

KK: He bugged me until I broke.

TVFF: Finally, are there any plans to expand this beyond what you're doing now?

KK: For sure. My wife and I are always looking for opportunities to expand. Lately, we have been doing a lot of custom work and we are currently running the numbers on a retail store. We learned a long time ago that the best businesses in America keep their eyes open for opportunity and learn to adapt.

We would like to thank Lt. Kauffman for taking the time to talk to us. If you would like to find out more about K. Kauff-men clothing, check out their web site or give them a call at 310-323-5888.



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