Son Jung Wan SS20 is a Disco Fairyland

SJW SPRING 2020 Look 13.JPG

Originally published on The Knockturnal

Son Jung Wan just might have had the best runway show this season. It was graceful, technical, cohesive…but there was also another quality, something otherworldly, that permeated the stage at Spring Studios.

The South Korean designer’s collection debuted to a disco soundtrack, swirling in a timeless bedazzled beat while models floated down the runway in ethereal looks that seemed to radiate effortless grandeur. The theme of Son Jung Wan’s show was to “tell a story of splendor,” a sentiment reminiscent of that iconic bittersweet poem– this show was a splendor in the grass, a fleeting moment of perfection amidst Fashion Week chaos, where we could reflect on a time passed no so long ago.

Tufts of cream sequined layers gave way to flouncing skirts, neon Victorian-inspired prints, and asymmetrical swirls. Each ensemble told a story of a land far away that was just in reach for a brief moment– if only we had the right outfit.

Son Jung Wan captured a whimsical dream in a stunning editorial collection, including a menswear beige and cream suit that is begging for Timothée Chalamet to don for the upcoming Little Women premiere. Like the film, Son Jung Wan’s SS20 collection feels like a rediscovered classic with a new voice. And for this season, what more can we ask for?

Tanu Vasu's "The Interim" Merges Ethical Fashion with Technology

6D4BD5B7-E9D5-4A7E-9683-0DDD660020EA.jpeg

Originally published on The Knockturnal

Fashion designer Tanu Vasu unveiled her latest collection, The Interim, this past weekend at a gallery exhibition on the Lower East Side. 

The stunning collection ranging from avant-garde wool dresses to Victorian-inspired silk jackets presented a complex commentary on the future of fashion. Vasu sourced cutting-edge materials such as peace silk, recycled merino wool, and basaltic magma to push the boundaries of fabric. 

The collection hung suspended from wire hooks on the ceiling to float fantastically in the white-walled space, gently rotating to present the subtle details of construction. Moving from light to dark, The Interim created an elegant story-- one that Vasu describes as a "cyclical reflection based on technology and fashion."

Inspired by her own search for the next big thing, Vasu dubbed her work 'The Interim' to embody both her  personal journey as well as the new global shift towards sustainability. "I always say that I'm on the cusp of the new thing, of the new material," Vasu explained. "I'm always in this interval of what's next, what's new, and I just feel like the world as a whole right now is focusing on sustainability and ethical fashion, and is in a state of constant evolution. I just feel like The Interim perfectly describes this because I'm always in this interim phase mentally." 

It's evident Vasu is a natural-born designer and artist; she in fact began designing at age seven, setting up a mini shop for neighbors to peruse. Her interest in the marriage between technology and clothing bred an emphasis in seeking out unexpected sustainable materials, such as basaltic magma used for the standout final piece of the collection is comprised of. "I think it's so rare for designers to focus on all ethical fashion, sustainability, and technology so I'm really bringing that out in this collection," Vasu said. 

The first garment--a sleek black merino wool sheath dress with copper-colored coils curving out of it like DNA--has a coveted chicness usually only found on high-end runways. Having grown up in Australia, Vasu was thoroughly familiar with natural wool, and used her expertise to play on the popular material. Each adorning coil was laser cut and hand-fastened directly to the wool, and the layered aesthetic extends to a blazer and skirt set, hanging directly behind. "I was playing around with geometrical construction and how coils can bind with merino wool and create new shapes and forms and kind of distort the body but still maintain a nice figure," Vasu explained. "It's revisited again here with these really copper-looking, metal-like, alchemy-inspired, all-consuming weird coils but I love it. It created this really interesting series of geometry." 

The coiling effect continued with the next mini collection of futuristic dresses, jackets, and skirts. The dark brown hued pieces, beginning with a sheer blazer, use felted wool remnants needle-punched into recycled plastic. Vasu sourced leftover discarded wool from factories to craft the garments; this material was originally going to be used for insulation at a recycling center, yet as Vasu discovered, sometimes the best way to break a glass ceiling is to repurpose it. "It's a reflection that I've been having about overconsumption and proposing an altered reality for garments and the end uses of textiles," Vasu said. "[We] can be proactive in a productive way." 

The deeper chocolate color extends and then lightens with three Victorian-inspired draped silk jackets and matching skirts. The thick, textured pieces use peace silk, an all-natural silk that Vasu was introduced to while visiting India. Peace silk is sustainably harvested from silk worms as opposed to the boiling process that inevitably kills the worm. "So many people don't realize the silk worm actually dies in order to create silk," Vasu explained. "However with peace silk--like the name, peace--the production team waits for the silk worm to vacate the cocoon prior to making the silk. That's why you see raw aspects of the cocoon in it."

The collection cumulated in a metallic magma dress using basaltic magma taken from a volcano. The material is melted into filaments and woven to become a smooth, surprisingly washable and thoroughly wearable textile. Currently used mainly for fire protective gear, Vasu transformed basaltic magma into a showstopping dress. "This is a really innovative textile that hasn't really been used in fashion much," Vasu mused. "I just thought this was the most interesting thing ever. Clothing made out of magma? That's insane." 

As for her material choice for The Interim as a whole, Vasu channeled her passion for ethical recyclable goods. "It was just a lot of experimenting," Vasu admitted. "I've always just been really interested in natural materials that are not causing harm to the animals or to the environment. I love being experimental with textiles and fashion and fabrics." 

The decision to hang the pieces was a conscience one, another departure from the static expectations of the fashion industry. "This show has so much movement and texture and abstraction," Vasu explained. "The way the fabric flows and has been manipulated into these forms, I feel like a mannequin would have just taken away from it. I'm essentially looking at how these forms exist in the space that they're in, and they don't necessarily need a 'body'." 

As one wanders through the floating beings, they too are transported into an interim of sorts, a breath outside of the confines of the every day. "I just want to see the next thing," Vasu said. And with The Interim, it seems Vasu has found it.

This Season's Hottest Handbag Trends

Handbag Trends.png

Originally published on Trend Prive

As winter thaws and spring begins to bloom, it’s only natural to look towards our closets and wonder what awaits for the new season of fashion. We are proud to share some of our favorite handbag brands–all eco-friendly, of course–and their latest trendsetting collections.

Neon

This brightly-colored trend is not just for music festivals and raves. This season, 80s-inspired neon makes a comeback. Sol and Selene’s lime hued cross body Diligent bag has multiple mesh compartments with an easy snap foldover closure and expandable zipper on the bottom. The wipeable nylon texture makes it perfect for traveling and partying alike. Handbag

Ombre

This transitional color gradient style is ideal for day to night looks, giving an unexpected pop to any outfit. Pixie Mood has perfected ombre with their beautifully subtle Stella tote. The buttery vegan leather bag reveals a full top zipper that is deliciously stylish and deceptively large, expanding the purse to fit a multitude of everyday items or even clothes for an overnight escape. The long straps sit comfortably on the shoulder, with easy access to the zipper. With colors ranging from pistachio to dusk, the stunning poetry of shades is not to be missed. The Canadian brand, founded in 2011, is our new go-to brand for all things ombre.

Florals

The classic floral trend is given a twist by Rhode Island-based designer Kent Stetson’s take on his signature statement clutch. The Pink Rose bag features a 3D rose at the foldover flap to give an extra layer of style. Each purse is handmade in Rhode Island using coated vegan leather. To read more about Kent Stetson, check out our article on his full collection.

Belt Bag

Hands-free handbag are a necessity when it comes to spring traveling. AMIDAH, founded by British mother-daughter duo Lisa and Jordanna Cantor, offers a unique 5-way multifunctional handbag that can be worn as a cross body, clutch, backpack, shoulder bag, or around the waist with a variety of strap options. The faux suede vegan leather has a silky smooth texture and sits comfortably around the waist. Its rectangular shape is small enough to be discreet but wide enough to fit everything you need for a daytime adventure.

Straw

Straw screams beachside paradise. Sustainable brand 31 Bits marries chicness with community, supporting artists throughout the world with fair working conditions and wages. “We realized our customers have the purchasing power to provide dignified job opportunities to artisans all over the globe,” co-founder and brand director Jessie Simonson said. “We use our love for fashion and design to drive positive change in the world, by providing artisans with fair pay, safe working conditions and holistic care.”

The Ferris Round tote has a soft circular shape and colorful tassel strap detail. The bag is woven by artists in Bali using traditional techniques, and brings an effortlessness to any ensemble.

New Mom Style

A little secret: any stylish large tote bag can be transformed into a diaper bag, especially the Flying High purse by Sol and Selene. The water repellent nylon is ideal for any potential bottle spills and the included removable laundry bag is an absolute lifesaver for a new parent. The puffer-style exterior provides a additional padding and an interior sleeve easily fits a laptop or tablet. There even is a yoga mat strap for when a mom needs a meditative break. We love the silver camo color for a street style take, but the bag also comes in a slew of other color ways including olive and charcoal.

Faux Crocodile

The classic animal texture in patent leather is a pre-fall must have. The About Last Night clutch by GUNAS is made from embossed laminated paper coated with glass. GUNAS created the bag to draw awareness to the slaughtering of crocodiles and alligators that are often used in high fashion. The clutch also has a cross body chain and features 22 karat gold plated brass hardware for luxe detailing.

Pastels

Spring is the only time pastels can truly flourish, and the faux suede asymmetrical Hazel tote in muted rose by Pixie Mood offers a smooth pale pink standout look. The bag can be worn either as cross body or over the shoulder, and has three inner compartments ideal for a work tote.

So let your closet rejoice in these latest styles from the leading sustainable brands. Happy Spring!

A Winter Wonderland: alice + olivia Creates a Fantastical Fairytale

leopard.png

Originally published on The Knockturnal

The alice + olivia by Stacey Bendet F/W '19 collection told a story of mysterious fantasy, one where a butterfly's wings could perfectly perch atop a leopard without so much as a growl. Inspired by fantasia, Bendet's fall/winter showcase redefined the modern romantic fairytale while reminding audiences to remain empowered through fashion.

The collection was divided into eight sections: Butterfly Kingdom, Butterfly Fantasia, Virtuous Vines, Golden Leaf, Grateful, Kaleidoscope, Rose Room, and Snow Palace-- each with their own displays and stories. The blends of butterfly patterns with leopard and zebra prints brought a whimsical take on Bendet's classic playfulness, and cheekily rainbow-colored tops embroidered with "Go Love Yourself" and "Strong Female Protagonist," along with a fringe sweatshirt emblazoned with "Grateful," added a technicolored fun to the show. 

The surrealistic elements, mainly found in the beautifully theatrical set designs, provided a statement backdrop to the cohesive collection perfect for day-to-night looks. A beaded crop top and matching choker paired with snakeskin-printed pants and a metallic puffer jacket proved street-ready, while classic floral-embellished black dresses embodied simple elegance. 

The ultimate winter ensemble however was the opening look for the Snow Palace section, aptly titled "Snow Queen." The all-white outfit paired a satin bustier top with a cascading feather skirt, topped with a shiny puffer coat and massively grand ivory butterfly headpiece, marrying functionality with red carpet regality. 

TRESemmé provided hair stylings for the runway showcase, predominantly using the slicked back knotted bun look to complement the alice + olivia collection. Models kept their hair in place using the Compressed Micro-Mist Hairspray, and the Keratin Smooth Shine Serum added extra sheen. Global brand stylist Justine Marjan and NYFW stylist Odile Gilbert were on hand to assist in stylings. 

The alice + olivia F/W '19 collection merged Bendet's unique eye for the unexpected with her intuitive take on trends. We, along with our closets, lust to partake in her latest fairytale. 

Oxford Fashion Studio I Unveils F/W Collections

Screen Shot 2019-02-11 at 3.55.23 PM.png

Originally published on The Knockturnal

The Oxford Fashion Studio I showcase at Pier 59 mixed experimental designs with ready-to-wear silhouettes to spotlight eight newcomer designers.

The show kicked off with Chaahat Thakker's line Déplico, drawing on childlike inspirations from her experience as a kids sewing teacher. The uninhibited viewpoint is evident in the visual media Chaahat creates-- oversized geometric pleating, felted materials, and unexpected color pairings. The four piece collection consisted of dresses and a crop top with a mini skirt.

British brand Poli and Jo debuted their Defender collection offering a utilitarian twist on the classic cotton bag. Their durable oversized totes--all made in England--featured a red seam along the trim of each canvas bag. Models in all-white outfits carried the waterproof totes by their bridle leather handles, sometimes wearing multiple bags at a time. 

Designer Farah Naz displayed her showstopping vintage-inspired pieces, wowing the overflowing audience. The collection, rooted in the symbol of a lotus flower, utilized tulle, French lace, and silk. Each dress was hand-embroidered with Swarovski crystals, rhinestones, sequins, or pearls, adorning the regal gowns with a refined shimmer. Standout looks included a rich navy sequined gown accompanied by a matching cape for modern twist on a Grace Kelly-esque mid-century ensemble, and a white mini dress with front pockets and large pearls recalling classic Chanel. Yet Farah Naz's collection was distinctly her own, creating an oasis of beauty, flattery, and vintage aesthetic amongst her timeless gowns. The grand finale-- the ultimate royal wedding gown complete with a tiara and feather-trimmed veil--rightfully brought the audience to their feet. 

Next Ron Ramos heated up the runway with a twist on sophisticated seduction. Part Charlie's Angels, part Prohibition mobster, the menswear-inspired collection redefined modern tailored looks, opting for leather-trimmed details and faux fur-dipped accessories. The cohesive collection featured pieces to be easily layered or inter-changed-- think Jennifer Rabbit if she stole some of Roger's suits. Moving through blacks, navys, and burgundys, models walked with alluring strength, no doubt stemming from the slinking silky suits and feather-brimmed hats they wore. A navy deep-v suit was swoon-worthy, and the show concluded with a burgundy high-slit cutout dress, paired with the mens gangster hat of course. 

Williamsburg designer Seray Sacan swept up viewers in her vacation-ready collection for Minzkou. Dubbed The Boholective Wave, Sacan's beaded and hand-knitted woven pieces told an intoxicating story of exotic adventure. The Minzkou two-piece pale pink tied top and matching skirt, drenched in perfect beading and paired with enhanced large matching earrings, called to mind an island escape. A stunning nude gown with small woven multicolored appliqués had all the makings of a showstopping piece, but the true title of best dress went to a raw silk tasseled long beaded stunner that floated down the runway, reminiscent of what one can only describe as a fantastical mermaid flapper. Minzkou prides itself on using only eco-friendly materials, cruelty-free silks, and naturally dyed fabrics, and we can't wait to see what Sacan does next. 

Jisu Lim followed with a mens and womens streetwear collection inspired by New York signs and graffiti. An orange see-through mesh mock neck top with "Sidewalk Closed" written on a patch in the front was paired with a loose take on army-printed pants and futuristic large rectangular glasses as the model wore a sleek ponytail, bridging chaos with simplicity. Brush strokes evoking paint splattered sidewalks adorned select pieces, most memorable on a black mesh dress styled with large hoops and a metal choker.

NC by Charly Nzogang reminded viewers that winter is coming with his innovative take on streetwear. The closet-ready styles included rope drawstring belt details, oversized hoods, and cutout styles. Origami folding and exaggerated wide sleeves made a chambray jumpsuit a showstopping piece as the garment beautifully hung from the model down the catwalk. It girls everywhere will obsess over the torso-baring powder white dress, the uniform of an urban warrior. Based in Brussels, Nzogang credits Marvel and Manga among his design inspirations, seeking to remind women they are superheroes, flying not required. 

The Oxford Fashion Studio showcase ended with a display of Korean designer Jyu Ri Ri's latest collection, titled "EGO-FRIENDLY." The theme for the collection directly relates to Jyu Ri Ri's personal upbringing; at age 31, she embarked on a fashion career much to the dismay of her family. "EGO-FRIENDLY," according to Jyu Ri Ri, is an ode to strong-willed women. Looks ranged from velvet leopard-spotted sheer dresses with Victorian collars to oversized paper doll style jackets. The large structured coat with a single floral design was an editorial moment for Jyu Ri Ri, followed by a crowd-favorite plaid suit with a deep pink mohair-lined hood (hello new fall trend color!) that merged comfort and style.

The Oxford Fashion Studio I showcase for Fall/Winter set the tone for an impressive fall, prompting us all to check our calendars for when these pieces will be available to buy. 

yes.png

Italian Brand Seventy Makes a Stylish American Debut

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 10.59.32 PM.png

Originally published on The Knockturnal

Seventy, a family-run fashion house, embodies the European effortless style that Americans so often envy. Thankfully, the brand has landed stateside, launching their womenswear pre-fall 2019 collection last week at the Gramercy Park Hotel rooftop terrace for their U.S. debut.

Helmed by Creative Director Francesca Tegon, Seventy blends ready-to-wear practicality with couture sophistication. The Italian brand features original prints, expert tailoring, and timeless silhouettes, flaunting lusciously soft faux furs and seamed leather leggings as style staples.

Standout pre-fall pieces included a grey and taupe wool glen plaid coat with a fringe bottom trim, and a rust down puffer vest with an attached scarf layered over a cornflower blue leopard printed tie-neck blouse and paired with brown checked menswear-inspired trousers for a truly chic ensemble.

The subtle piping details on various outfits– a crystal trim along the leg of a double-breasted windowpane plaid suit, a neon green interior seam of a chocolate floral wrap skirt– are what made the collection tastefully unique, a slight unexpected wink to tradition.

Currently, Seventy is primarily sold in boutiques, but their presence in New York weeks prior to Fashion Week indicates a shift to a larger market. As buyers and influencers alike mingled amongst well-dressed mannequins, Tegon and her team looked on– and perhaps upwards. We can only hope this is the first of many U.S. visits to expand their buzz-worthy brand.

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 10.59.47 PM.png

Chiara Boni La Petite Robe Wows for Winter

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 10.44.57 PM.png

Originally published on The Knockturnal

The stars aligned for the Fall/Winter ’19 collection from Chiara Boni La Petite Robe– both in the timely brilliance of the impeccably tailored dresses and in the front row audience, which boasted a collection of Victoria’s Secret models and high-profile influencers alike. Gowns, jumpsuits, and pantsuits walked the runway at Spring Studios this evening, each carrying a glimmer of classic couture with a nod to modernity.

The heavenly array of formalwear, from sequin brocade-sleeved frocks to fluttering tulle gowns, floated through the audience amongst a fluttering of camera shutters and gasps. The large collection featured ready-to-wear velvet outfits, plaid suits, navy florals, and patterned overcoats with sequin-encrusted belts. More delicate pieces like a magenta-hued gown with a faint heart-shaped patch covering the bosom and a black and gold tulle dress that trembled with each step lightened the collection.

Model Noel Capri Berry walked in the show, and Victoria’s Secret runway star Maria Borges closed out the night to much applause in a gold and black ensemble, donning the collection’s signature silhouette tilted hat. Fellow Victoria’s Secret model Devin Windsor and singer Caroline Vreeland cheered on Borges and Capri Berry from the front row. Models Julia Restoin Roitfeld and Liliana Nova also looked on, and influencers Leonie Hamme and Paola Turani sat side by side.

The latest Chiara Boni La Petite Robe collection blended femininity and traditional European menswear to create a divinely cinematic wardrobe. A simply elegant star indeed.

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 10.46.44 PM.png

Kent Stetson Redefines Fun

Street Style 1.jpg

Originally on Trend Prive

We all have that piece in our closets, that one accessory that can transform any grouping of clothes into an official outfit. Red carpet favorite handbag brand Kent Stetson specializes in these statement pieces, giving customers an individual one-of-a-kind work of art.

It's hard to believe Kent Stetson's eponymous line was built on unwanted scraps. After a 2003 exhibition of computer-generated paintings where none of his pieces sold, then-recent Brown University grad Stetson decided to cut up his canvases and sew them into bags. Stetson sold his handbag creations at a local shoe store where he worked; the bags were popular immediately. "It turned out that a handbag was a great framing device," Stetson explained. "Since then, bags have become my medium as an artist."

Stetson incorporated his knowledge of leather and leather-like work into his handbags. Stetson, having grown up on a farm in Rhode Island, often observed his mother repairing horse bridles and saddles. Stetson credits his familiarity with farm leatherwork for inspiring his handbag creations, much like Hermes, Gucci, and Coach-- all brands that began as saddlery companies.

Today, Stetson's handbags are handcrafted in Rhode Island at Stetson's commercial studio, with each bag signed by Stetson himself. This artisanal U.S.-based production is extremely important to Stetson and his brand. "I am really an artist, my hands are on each piece, and that is in the DNA of our work at the atelier," Stetson said.

Stetson's in-house production allows for the brand to pivot when necessary. "I don't like being dependent on other people to make our designs-- if an opportunity with a celebrity or media project comes up in the morning and they need it in L.A. by the following day, we can just drop everything and make it happen," Stetson stated.

The made-to-order handbags also can accommodate last-minute changes. "I do not need a 3-month lead time. We can work with independent retailers and offer customization at every level of production," Stetson continued.

However, the atelier model does have its downsides. "We cannot compete with the low prices of large-scale manufacturing," Stetson explained. "But we have turned that into an advantage by focusing on independent retailers and direct sales models."

Thankfully, the benefits of artisanal quality and small-scale low waste manufacturing have not been lost on the consumer. The brand's signature printed crossbody clutches have been seen on the arms of celebrities like Johnny Weir, Taryn Manning, Nene Leakes, Michelle Kwan, Iris Apfel, and Martha Stewart.

The popular clutches are made using vegan leather with a durable coated exterior canvas. Yet Stetson's array of handbag silhouettes ranging from work totes to laptop carriers use a variety of materials, which in turn determine the shape of the construction.

Due to such small scale production, the company is proudly a low waste operation. In addition, the brand continues to use scrap fabrics to produce smaller accessories like wristlets or for the tabs inside bags. All of the materials used by Kent Stetson are sourced within the U.S. as well.

"I like to think of us as the farm-to-table version of handbags," Stetson said. "The idea of wanting to know where something comes from, and that there is integrity and accountability stitched into it, is a reflection of the values of the end-user."

Stetson draws inspiration from various outlets, especially atelier brands that similarly focus on smaller production runs. "In fashion, Van Herpen is brilliant. Jeremy Scott gets the pop-culture-meets-fashion-victim-laugh-at-life and crossing over to the dark side of kitsch that I also enjoy," Stetson mused. "The Blondes are just super extra and transfixing. I adore Jean-Charles de Castelbajac who must also have inspired Scott, Commes de Garcon."

Stetson's bags similarly stand out among the fashion landscape. "We don't blend into a crowd. We like to make things that breaks the ice and spark fun conversations," Stetson explained. "My personal fashion is inextricable from the ethos of the collection. I am aware of the trends, but I do not like to dilute the sense of certainty that goes into my work. I dabble in the practical realm, but fun...that is really my arena."

The Kent Stetson upcoming show at Styleweek Northeast in Rhode Island on September 22 will no doubt embody the eccentric and vibrant brand message of being yourself. Harkening back to their computer-generated canvas origins, Kent Stetson handbags will walk the runway being held by robots and drones-- a reminder that Stetson constantly pushes fashion into the future.

As for Stetson's outlook on what's in store in the coming years, he only hopes for continued happiness. "My hope is that in five years I am still enjoying the work and that my team continues to feel rewarded in doing a good job. I hope to reserve enough capital to have basic security for the future and continue to help social and charitable causes that I care about."

The Kent Stetson handbag line rose from the ashes of a gallery showcase, finding a home for scraps and recycled canvases. Stetson hopes for his bags to similarly give their owners a sense of belonging as well.

"I think I do what I do best as a designer when someone looks at something I have made and thinks it was just for them, and they see in one of our creations a way to instantly convey something about who they are without having to say a word."

For Stetson and his eponymous handbag brand, individuality has never looked so good.

Splash_rz.jpg

L'Agence Brings L.A. Cool to New York Runways

Screen Shot 2018-09-12 at 10.39.59 PM.png

Originally on Fashion Week Online 

L'Agence has always embodied a certain laid back attainable chicness that every woman longs to emulate. And finally, with co-founder Jeffrey Rudes back at the helm as CEO, L'Agence expands its influence to NYFW

The premiere of the brand's Spring 2019 collection-- a 12-look homage to the effortless style of Los Angeles-- brought a modern whimsy to a seventies-inspired aesthetic. Nude silks and rose gold accents highlighted the accessible spontaneity of the brand. “The L’Agence woman is the embodiment of Los Angeles," Rudes stated. "She’s effortless, nonchalant, and very much epitomizes California cool, but with the distinct confidence and joie de vivre that Parisiennes are famous for." 

Models stood on scattered platforms across the brick-walled Industria Studios in the West Village. Each ensemble was styled with technicolor eyeshadow, large dangle earrings, and throwback accessories. The unique cocktail hour showcase of the collection purposefully differed from traditional runway shows. Rudes credits his daughter, L'Agence Art Director Sasha Simone Rudes, for the unique interactive display. Each platform differed in height, creating a pyramid optical illusion. "I like that the press can enter and walk through and touch and feel. That was part of the essence of this set up, being able to really connect to it," Rudes explained. 

Rudes returned to L'Agence from J Brand in 2017; since his appointment as CEO, the company has fiscally grown 40%. The surge in consumer support greatly impacted Rudes' decision to premiere this collection at NYFW. "You have to know when the right time is to present to the press and expose yourself," Rudes mused. "The collection's been evolving. Our business, our retail, through our consumer has grown tremendously. That's all due to the consumer response. Our customers respond to what we're doing." 

Rudes stressed that L'Agence isn't a runway brand; it is firmly a collection built on wearability and simplicity. "We do wearable clothing that's made for people. I tell the design team all the time: keep it simple. Choose really good fabrics, then keep the styling simple because she [the customer] can understand it," Rudes said. 

But simplicity does not mean redundancy. The latest L'Agence collection involved everything from mauve silk pajama printed tops to a standout powder blue suede bomber. Simplicity, rather, means consistency in quality and clean classic aesthetics. "It's like a jean that has 5 pockets. Do you have to think about it if you know your company? It's reliable. 'Oh that's that t-shirt, oh it's that thing I wear.' It's easy. That's what you want to create with L'Agence," Rudes explained. "It's that people can identify that it's easy but luxury fabrics with great prints. Give it a fashion point of view but from a simplistic view." 

This collection's Los Angeles inspiration also pairs with the consistency of wearability. "Los Angeles is evolving every year, whether is't fashion, art, photography, magazines they're shooting, Hollywood," Rudes said. "[There is a] LA feel of casual." Yet the city remains true to itself while growing, much like L'Agence. 

The brand's signature denim took charge of the collection, perfectly hugging the models' thighs before expanding into a tasteful flare. The modern bell bottom jeans on display, both in blue denim and white, harkened back to a Los Angeles 70s era. However, the L'Agence flare at 40" is wider than the standard 70s jean, as Rudes explained. The modern twist on an exaggerated flare was influenced by asking: what would a flare jean be if it was created now? "You always need that fashion piece," Rudes said. "When it was J Brand, it was the skinny jean. Here we're pushing the envelope." 

The key to success, according to Rudes, is fit, particularly with jeans. And, of course, simplicity. "A woman wants her jeans again," Rudes admitted, explaining that the trend is shifting away from embellished denim towards classic updated styles. "Jeans are an important part of L'Agence because it's in every woman's wardrobe. And her brand that she loves, she will buy that jean if it's well-executed. She identifies with her jeans. It's fabric, it's fit." 

The emphasis on the perfectly fitting jean propels L'Agence into cult dedication. If the rise in profits weren't proof enough, L'Agence women love their denim. "Fit is key for us," Rudes expressed. "You don't make a car with three wheels, you make it with four wheels. We have to fit. That's our job. It would defeat the purpose if we came out with something that someone said 'we love this,' they go to the dressing room and it doesn't fit. That is uch a missed opportunity." 

The L'Agence collection merged familiar styles with fun updates-- silk champagne paper bag trousers, vintage-inspired pink prints, a baby blue floral slip dress, and of course, denim. That familiarity and fit is what makes L'Agence's entrance to NYFW all more exciting. "Keep it simple. Don't overthink it," Rudes summarized. "Don't try too hard because it will show." And for the L'Agence woman, effortlessness is in her blood. 

Screen Shot 2018-09-12 at 10.40.29 PM.png

Parisa Wang Brings Confidence, Unique Style to Luxury Handbags

Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 7.22.56 PM.png

Originally published on Fashion Week Online

There is beauty in confidence. Designer Parisa Wang lets that beauty shine with her signature handbags tailored for women on the go.

Parisa Wang and her eponymous brand is most known for her Addicted Bracelet Bag, a minimalist cross body handbag with a ring buckle worn around the wrist– a bag elevated to a jewelry aesthetic. The hands-free design is meant for carefree whimsy for a multitasking boss. “The functionality and versatility are definitely why customers love it so much,” Wang explained. “It’s definitely a unique piece made for every woman to appreciate.”

The idea of an empowered woman carrying one of her designs is the driving force for Wang. Originally a Business Accounting major at Miami University, Wang felt confined to cultural expectations. “I grew up in urban China where arts were seen as a waste of time,” Wang admitted. Wang secretly took painting classes while in college, and upon graduation, decided to follow her true passion for fashion design at Parsons School for Design. “[Parsons] is where I learned to harness my allusive aspirations into tangible objects,” Wang mused.

Wang worked with ready-to-wear brands like J.Crew, 3.1 Phillip Lim, and Pologeorgis Furs, but again felt confined to a particular pre-determined aesthetic. “I soon found myself disappointed and stranded,” Wang reminisced. “Brands seemed to be less interested in innovating and more interesting in hitting rigid sales goals and replicating established trends. I wanted to do things differently.”

Wang launched PARISA WANG in 2016 with the mission to “create singular, luxurious handbags with accessible price points that women instinctively reach for.” Wang was drawn to handbags as her medium due to their historical significance. Wang cited the fact that clothing lacked pockets until the 17th century, with women having to rely on men to carry their belongings. “Women’s handbags appeared asa symbol of independence and status for women,” Wang explained. “I love the story behind handbags.”

Wangs bags are very much so for the modern woman while carrying this tradition of independence and empowerment. PARISA WANG created the #PWWonderWomen campaign to create a social media community to celebrate inspirational women who follow their own paths to success. “We believe in championing women, and hope that our designs can help instill in them the strength and confidence needed to succeed each and every day,” Wang said.

Wang’s designs are also uniquely personal. The iconic full-grain calf leather and suede-lined Addicted Bracelet Bag was PARISA WANG’s first product, inspired by Wang’s own love story. The bag’s placement on the wrist parallels the phrase “wear your heart on your sleeve”; the shape of the bag resembles a wine bottle, symbolizing the feeling of being drunk in love. “It’s meant to capture the honeymoon stage,” Wang explained.

For her vaster collections, Wang looks to classic artists for specific elements: Brancusi’s sculptures for gentle curves, Tadao Ando’s architectures for clean lines, and van Gogh’s “passionate” color palettes. The brand itself also encourages a dialogue between the customers and manufacturers, prompting feedback for new materials or testing sustainable approaches.

PARISA WANG’s latest creation– the Belt Bag– came to fruition due to such customer feedback. Professional model and photographer, and Addicted Bracelet Bag customer, Zanita Whittington reached out to Wang to work on a design collaboration for a day-to-night bag. “Zanita is jet setting around the world, and she told me she couldn’t find a chic accessory that allows her to be hands-free and to effortlessly transition between on and off-duty looks,” Wang summarized. The Parisa x Zanita Belt Bag was their combined solution for a compact approach to luxury. The Belt Bag recently debuted on August 15th, exclusively on parisawang.com.

All of PARISA WANG products are handmade by artisans in Hong Kong using natural biodegradable calfskin sourced from renowned international tanneries to merge a delicacy with industrial. “I hope that my classic minimal designs help instill in you an indomitable confidence laced with a feminine edge,” Wang explained.

Wang looks to expand the brand into ready-to-wear and shoes, among other projects. But just like any Business major, Wang knows not to spread herself too thin. “We hope to continue to build the brand slowly and steadily. Regardless of what we do, our mission will remain the same,” Wang said. “I wanted to build a brand that we not only create beautiful fashion, but also celebrate the things that are important to us and women we admire.”

On a personal level, Wang hopes to also expand her family. “I hope to meet a special someone to eventually build a family together,” Wang admitted. And, like her powerful Addicted Bracelet Bag, Wang is all about romance. “Love and work, work and love. That’s all there is, isn’t it?”

PARISA WANG handbags are available at parisawang.com.

Nicholas K Redefines Sustainable Luxury

Screen Shot 2018-08-14 at 10.47.02 AM.png

Originally published on Trend Prive

Womenswear brand Nicholas K exists in a world of pure preservation, lush landscapes, and environmental abundance—a world that very much should be our reality. Founded by brother-sister duo Christopher and Nicholas Kunz, Nicholas K embodies modern sustainable fashion for the confident woman.

The brand's versatile aesthetic mirrors the natural dichotomies found in the siblings' home state of Arizona. From diverse colors melded together in rock formations to unexpected forests among deserts, the contrasting elements found in nature are at the root of Nicholas K's signature style. "We like the idea of living in a harsh environment but finding beauty in it. Everyone thinks of the desert as desolate, but there is lots of life," co-founder Christopher explained.

Although currently based in New York City, Nicholas K heavily draws inspiration from a variety of locations, ranging from Africa to South America. Nicholas K returned to their southwestern foundation for their fall 2018 collection, blending the brand's "urban nomad" aesthetic with authentic Peruvian culture. "We've always like big cowboy hats and turquoise necklaces," Nicholas joked. "It's definitely something we appreciated from our upbringing but it was also something that we were inspired by within the Peruvian culture: their large hats and ponchos. In a way, it kind of fit our aesthetic of nomadic inspiration we have every season."

Nicholas explained she and her brother were drawn to the people of Peru after an alpaca wool- sourcing excursion to the Puno region with the Trade Commission of Peru the year prior. The trip was prompted by Nicholas's discovery of unique black shades of alpaca yarn at a fabric fair, but the dismay of a lack of resources for a full production utilizing the natural fibers. "We like farm to finished fiber," Nicholas said. "We wanted to have more transparency." While in Peru, the sibling duo observed a lack of diversity among the herded alpacas, with significantly more white than black being bred by the two largest wool suppliers in world. "They told us that because of the commercial demand in the 1970s and 80s, brands and companies wanted to dye their own colors for each season. They wanted the white base," Nicholas divulged. Yet the natural colored alpaca hair offered a bounty of unreproducible shades. "It was so rich in color and 3-dimensional," Nicholas reminisced. "It's all these colors you could never try to reproduce."

The decades-long lack of demand for colored alpaca hair within the fashion industry proved it difficult for Nicholas K to incorporate the fabric within their collections, with the un-dyed wool proving to be more expensive than its dyed counterpart. "It's this weird paradox. As the Industrial Revolution moved forward, people had this idea that anything more processed is better," Christopher explained. "If you think about it from a practical point of view, un-dyed black should actually be cheaper." The contradictory nature of the argument is found in a variety of industries, Christopher added, citing the price increase for organic foods even though the action of adding pesticides should cost more. "You're essentially bastardizing a process that was really beautiful and pure and now you're telling people it's more expensive when you're doing less work," Christopher said.

Of course, the decrease of breeding colored alpacas was a choice by the local farmers who tracked the patterns of the desired shades. The shared sentiment was that if a company wanted black,

they could dye the white just as other corporations had been doing with exotic shades like pink, purple, and fuchsia. "[The farmers] can't risk their livelihood on that kind of bet," Nicholas explained regarding a potential shift in breeding patterns. "We have to create a demand for it and educate people on why natural color is actually better. Why would you want dyed? Aren't you conscience of what you're putting against your skin?"

After speaking in-person with individual suppliers, Nicholas K accumulated enough natural black alpaca wool for 150 sweaters as part of their capsule collection for fall 2018. "It's kind of nice-- we only have 150 sweaters, it doesn't go on sale, it has a lot of longevity, it's not trendy," Nicholas said. "This is the perfect project to educate people and tell the story around it." Each sweater is individually unique given the natural differences in the black wool; the capsule collection an epitome for purposeful luxury. "There used to be this concept of exclusivity around luxury," Christopher said, "but this really is an exclusive product because there really isn't that much of [the black alpaca] available."

The rest of the brand's upcoming fall collection continued from there. The siblings traveled to the Sacred Valley, finding inspiration from the muddied ground. "The color palette simulated the dirtiness of the earth: the burnt orange, the stones, the blacks," Nicholas said. Next they ventured to the Floating Islands, incorporating creams and taupes from the torturas. The movement of the long grass roots that framed the Floating Islands were mirrored in prints for flowing dresses, "like wind over the water" as Nicholas described. Rust-colored salt mines mixed shades of milky white with an earthiness that also was incorporated into the fall collection color palette. "You can see our travels through Peru in the collection," Nicholas said.

The duo returned to where the collection began in the highlands alpaca farms to photograph the clothing next to its source of inspiration. The capsule alpaca boucle sweaters were modeled next to suri "dreadlocked" alpacas that matched the same hue as the garment. "Every time we design clothing we feel it shouldn't be an eyesore to the environment. It should be complementary to the natural surroundings," Nicholas explained. "The whole collection works as a camouflage to the environment that it was in." Nicholas cites Arizona's Arcosanti as the ultimate showcase of nature by a manmade product.

The nation of Peru itself seeks to maintain a similar nonintrusive approach to the utilization of nature. "When you talk to people in government position there, they're always talking about the balance between industrial movements and protecting the disenfranchised parts," Christopher stated. "As the other countries have sort of boomed and gone into manufacturing, it's really in detriment to the environment. And [in Peru], they are really trying to do it in a responsible way."

Founders Christopher and Nicholas hope Nicholas K can exemplify a type of "subconscious sustainability," with consumers naturally opting for eco-friendly products as part of the normal routine. Will fashion, however, one day be entirely environmentally-aware? "I think it's inevitable," Nicholas answered. "The planet can't sustain the pace that we're moving in right now. There is going to be a breaking point where it's not going to be an option, and people will have to start taking responsibility for this actions." Nicholas looks to the younger generation for their awareness in consumption.

Yet the path to sustainability is wrought with confusion and bureaucratic demands. "It's a difficult problem because on one end as producers you should think about how to solve a problem or develop a product that is well-designed, good for the environment, and has some benefit to society

without a cost to it," Christopher explained. "I think in the process of trying to make everything affordable to everyone, we've also diminished the value of what people expect from products. We've created an environment where the financial cost of producing something is the only concern and all the problems associated with the environmental and social costs are disregarded."

As Christopher and Nicholas look to the future-- to researching additional certifications, to developing new technologies to address excessive shipment packaging, and to their personal design inspirations--the Nicholas K woman is at the forefront of their minds. "Our customer is someone who has a sophisticated awareness about life and the environment," Christopher said. "She understands the difference between style and trend; she wants to look attractive and interesting with a little bit of mystery."

And what else could we ask for from two innovative, refreshing designers? Nicholas K's mark on the fashion industry is just as natural as the garments they produce. But unlike their nature-inspired collection, Christopher and Nicholas' vision for an environmentally-conscious world makes them born to standout.

Screen Shot 2018-08-14 at 10.47.14 AM.png

A Real Problem: Faux Fur Found to be Authentic in Fast Fashion Products

Originally published on Trend Prive

A recent Sky News investigative report found that major UK-based retailers Boohoo, Miss Bardo, Amazon, and TK Maxx–a subsidiary of TJ Maxx–have been selling products mislabeled as faux fur. The Sky News study was conducted in conjunction with Humane Society International (HSI). The report analyzed fiber samples from a variety of seemingly faux fur accessories and clothing from the brands in question. Shockingly, they discovered traces of real animal fur in each garment in question.

The investigation was spurred by TK Maxx customer Jayne Webster after she contacted HSI to report concerns over a keychain she had bought online. TK Maxx had confirmed the keychain pom pom was made of synthetic fur, yet Webster was still unconvinced. HSI sent the keychain to be tested and found that it was actually made of rabbit fur.

“As a company who proudly boasts that they have not sold fur or Angora products since 2003, I would assume TK Maxx takes a strong ethical stance on this issue,” Webster told Daily Mail. “So when I found out that the fur pom pom I bought was actually made of rabbit fur, I was extremely disappointed and concerned. I am aware of the horrific suffering that animals on fur farms go through and would never want to buy real fur.”

Currently, it is illegal to farm fur in the UK, but retailers can cheaply import fur from other countries. Yet, there is no clear regulation against misleading customers.

“There is no legal requirement to use the specific word ‘fur’ on items containing real fur,” HSI stated in a press release. “EU regulations do require items defined as ‘textile products’ to carry the confusing wording ‘contains non-textile parts of animal origin’ but as well as not clearly telling consumers it means ‘real animal fur’ in practice this wording requirement is rarely adhered to at all.”

Even real fur trim is also priced the same or sometimes even less than faux fur due to fur farms cheap production costs, making it indistinguishable for customers online. Each of these investigated retailers, however, have policies banning the sale of fur. The Sky Newsand HSI investigation found numerous items on each website made of authentic fur, directly contracting the retailers’ policies.

Boohoo was selling a pair of pom pom “faux” fur earrings for $6.70 that actually were made of mink. The brand also reportedly sold two pairs of bridal shoes containing rabbit fur fibers.

“We are very disappointed that on this occasion our high standards have been breached by the suppliers from who these items have been sourced,” a Boohoo representative stated. “Its standards are being investigated as a matter of urgency.”

Since the publication of the Sky News and HSI report, the earrings and shoes have been removed from the site.

In addition to the pom pom keychain that Webster had identified, TK Maxx was also retailing a “faux” fur-trimmed jacket for $160 that was actually fox fur. TK Maxx stood by their brand statement that they had banned authentic fur in 2003.

“TK Maxx has a longstanding ‘no fur’ policy and both our buyers and vendors understand that we do not knowingly purchase items containing fur,” a TK Maxx representative said. “With regard to the jacket, we intended to buy the ‘faux fur’ version of this item and very much regret what appears to be an error on our part.”

TK Maxx also took down the two identified items from their website.

A pair of mislabeled faux fur children’s slippers aptly named “Little Fox” on Amazon Marketplace were found to actually include remnants of real fur. Amazon apologized for the product, stating to Sky News that “all Marketplace sellers must follow our selling guidelines and those who don’t will be subject to action including potential removal of their account.”

Trendy brand Miss Bardo was found to be selling a beanie for $11 that was made of fox fur. The brand issued an apology statement to its customers:

“Upon being told the findings the entire team was shocked to find that the style we had been told was ‘faux fur’ actually turned out to be 100% real fur! Here at MISSBARDO, we have an anti-fur policy and we feel appalled that we have been misled by an overseas manufacturer into buying a hat that is not faux fur.”

Miss Bardo also vowed to refund customers who had purchased the mislabeled beanie.

Previously, UK brand Missguided and American-based store Urban Outfitters were also accused of selling mislabeled “faux” fur products.

Due to this incredible amount of real fur in lieu of faux fur, the HSI is campaigning for the British government to make the UK an entirely fur-free area by extending the cat, dog, and seal fur bans to include all species.

“The amount of fake faux fur online is truly shocking,” Claire Bass, the executive director of HSI UK, said. “The combination of trusted brands, cheap prices, and items described as ‘faux’ or ‘100% acrylic,’ means many people will be justifiably horrified to discover they’ve inadvertently bought animal fur. Consumers rightly expect brands to sell what they say they’re selling, so urgent action is needed to stop this insidious creep of fur through the back door.”

In response, PETA has published guidelines for determining whether fur is faux or not. Suggestions include burning the tips of a product and check for a burnt plastic scent to confirm the fur is faux, checking the base of the fur detail for mesh or threading, and to observe the shape of the fur.

Hopefully, though, customers should not be forced to have the responsibility to determine whether or not their new purchase is as advertised. Faux fur should really be faux fur if the company says it is.

As whistleblower TK Maxx customer Webster said, “I don’t know how companies get away with this.”

Screen Shot 2018-08-10 at 1.52.59 AM.png

Matt & Nat Backpacks Elevate Street Style

Originally published on Trend Prive

Matt & Nat backpacks have become the staple accessory for women on the go. The Montreal-based vegan handbag line has found it's stride in minimalist styles in unique shapes, adding a classic flair to modern purses.

Matt & Nat, named after Mat(t)erial and Nature for their eco-friendly pieces, was founded by Inder Bedi in 1995. Bedi was passionate about his personal vegan diet, and decided to extend the lifestyle choice to the bags he used while in school. In 2001, Bedi partnered with current Matt & Nat President and CEO Manny Kohli. 

Kohli cites both Bedi's and his Indian heritage to his own interest in vegan products. "In our culture, cows are considered a sacred animal," Kohli explained. "It felt very natural to create a brand that respected this." 

The Matt & Nat brand motto is to "live beautifully" without disrupting nature and practicing social responsibility. The brand uses recycled nylons, cardboard, rubber, recycled tires, and cork to make their products, ranging from backpacks to satchels to belts. Each piece is lined with recycled plastic bottles. The brand reuses on average four million plastic bottles a year to create their bags. The brand hopes to expand into jackets, vegan-made candles, and reusable water bottles. Today, Matt & Nat handbags are available at Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom, and online. 

Yet the most unique feature for Matt & Nat products is their subtle shades and unexpected nature-inspired hues. It's no wonder women everywhere are choosing Matt & Nat handbags to accessorize their outfits. 

"We want to show that cruelty-free fashion can be chic and stylish and to prove that accessories don’t need to be made of leather to be considered fashionable," Kohli said. 

Screen Shot 2018-08-10 at 1.33.53 AM.png

Celebs Fund "Size Inclusive" Universal Standard Apparel

Originally published on Trend Prive

Stylish clothing should be universally available regardless of size. Journalist Alex Waldman and investor Polina Veksler founded clothing line Universal Standard in 2015 to provide direct-to-consumer modern fashion for women in sizes 10 to 28. Recently, Universal Standard closed their Series A round for investors after receiving $7 million in funds from a variety of star-studded entrepreneurs. Actress and Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow led the roster of investors which ranged from Natalie Massenet of the Imaginary venture fund, MatchesFashion founders Tom and Ruth Chapman, Toms founder Blake Mycoskie, SoulCycle’s Elizabeth Cutler, and Sweetgreen’s Jonathan Newman and Nicolas Jammet. This is the second round of funding brings total investment in Universal Standard to $8.5 million.

Universal Standard strives to change the often-overlooked market for double-digit clothing. The plus-size sector–valued at $21.3 billion in 206–remains to be the most marginalized category in the apparel market despite it’s increasing demand. Revenue from plus-size apparel grew by 14% between 2013 and 2016, compared to a 7% rise in all other apparel, according to The Economist. The average woman in the United States is a size 16, and while the term “plus size” defines sizes above 14, Universal Standard chose to begin at size 10.

“When we started the brand, we started as a size inclusive brand, not as a plus size brand,” co-founder Veksler said. Veksler and Waldman were friends prior to founding Universal Standard. “I felt I knew what a good portion of the women in this space was looking for,” co-founder Waldman said, “and Polina [Veksler] had the experience and vision to run the business side of the company.”

Veksler discussed how Universal Standard wanted to address plus size clothing differently than most brands. Prior to Universal Standard, a majority of clothing lines designed plus size pieces in a conservative way. “When it comes to showcasing fashion for bigger women, you have a sort of catalog-from-the-late-’80s aesthetic,” Veksler explained. “They’re just not being taken seriously, and this is what we want to change.”

Universal Standard’s first collection was launched out of co-founder Waldman’s New York City apartment. The collection consisted of eight essential pieces with a downtown-chic aesthetic. Their inventory sold out in just six days. Since then, the brand has hosted pop-ups around the country and partnered with Nordstrom for exclusive offerings. In 2016, Universal Standard paired with Lions Model Management for a two-month national road trip for a nationwide model search. The #UsAcrossUS program opened pop-up stores along their route and documented their adventures on social media.

Universal Standard continues to make plus size apparel fun and modern. Their “curve-loving line” focuses on elevated essentials, offering minimalist and seasonless styles. Today, the brand offers everything from activewear, dresses, work separates, and even size-extended jewelry. “What Alex and I set out to do is to erase that line that arbitrarily exists just because of a size changes,” Veksler explained. “We do that from every perspective: from the style, the quality, and the fit, but also from the visual language perspective.”

Universal Standard also offers a unique program for weight loss or gain after purchase. “We kept seeing this deference to a future self,” Waldman said. “Spending anything over $19.99 became a pain point because it was like making a commitment to your size.” To combat this, Waldman and Veksler implemented a Universal Fit Liberty initiative with an unprecedented return process. If a customer’s size fluctuates over a year, Universal Standard will replace the item in a new size for free. “We wanted to relieve the anxiety of that purchase decision, from both an emotional standpoint and a financial standpoint,” Waldman said. This program is equally as much for customer satisfaction as it is emotional support.

“We wanted women to stop feeling bullied by their size and to start buying for the person in the mirror; not an imaginary ideal they might, or might not be next month or next year,” Waldman explained. All returned pieces are cleaned and donated to charities that help underprivileged women enter the workforce.

The recent second round of funding will be used to continue product expansion and fabric innovation. The new capital will also help to expand the size offerings, with Universal Standard expanding to include sizes 6 to 32 within the next year. Furthermore, funds will be allocated to continue brand awareness and marketing campaigns. Universal Standard also create a showroom to enter national wholesale retail.

“We have a lot of plans to really shake up this industry and change the way that things have been done for so long,” Waldman said. Although the company declined to provide revenue figures, it is clear that Universal Standard is flourishing in the size-inclusive market.

As Veksler aptly puts it, “taste is shaped by many things – size should not be one of them.” Universal Standard continues to bridge the gap between size and style, propelling fashion into the future.

Screen Shot 2018-08-10 at 1.28.49 AM.png

Carlisle's First NYFW Show Channels Classic Chic

Originally published on Trend Prive

Ready-to-wear brand Carlisle hosted their first NYFW show for the fall/winter ’18 collection. Their NYFW debut is the first collection to be designed by the newly-appointed creative director Fred Tutino, who was formerly of Elie Tahari.

The brand promotes female empowerment, and their NYFW show was a celebration of “real” women through timeless style and accessible price points. The collection was inspired by Folk Dandy, a mix of eccentric British Saville Row tailoring with a Balkan’s folk spirit, resulting in a conservative hippie look. “I wanted to create a collection that speaks to the vintage-inspired world traveler,” Tutino said. “It’s an intersection of tradition and modernity.”

The runway featured 37 put-together outfits with hints of whimsical detail. Suits were reinterpreted in classic fabrics like tweed, wool, and houndstooth with fun embellishments. Carlisle also offered eveningwear for the first time, showing two romantic gowns: one burgundy chiffon v-neck flowing frock, and a beaded embroidered tulle dress.

The show is a result of Carlisle’s rebranding tactics. Carlisle has undergone a brand overhaul within the past year, transitioning to higher-end materials and opening new locations. “We’ve been working on everything to relaunch every single consumer touchpoint and consumer-facing asset from colour to the shopping bags and taglines to contemporise and make more relevant the Carlisle brand,” Chief Executive Officer Terrence Moorehead said.

The incorporation of a cashmere line within the brand features quality 18-gauge cashmere, used by brands like Balenciaga and Bottega Veneta, furthers the high-end look for Carlisle. The brand also now allows customers to make direct purchases from their website as well. The Carlisle price point has also slightly raised to an average of $500 for pieces.

From sheath dresses to tailored coats, the Carlisle show embodied accessible everyday chic. The changes within Carlisle, along with their NYFW debut, makes the luxury ready-to-wear brand one to watch.

Screen Shot 2018-08-10 at 1.26.09 AM.png

Hardeman Delivers Unique Take on NYFW

Originally published on Trend Prive

Amsterdam-based designer Sophie Hardeman wore a backward yellow baseball hat, button-up jeans, and a white tee bluntly declaring “models suck.” Hardeman, just like her eponymous unisex clothing line, likes to deliver the unexpected, and her fall/winter ’18 collection was just that.

Seventies-style color blocked suede suits crowded the runway, and a camp green crop top jacket and pant combo highlighted the female model’s boxer briefs underneath. Gender, like all of the garments, moved in the same fluidity as the collection itself. Punk style hair and goth metallic lipstick drew attention to patchwork denim overall separates; pants were done in the style of culottes, whether shorts or cropped flares; and each models’ outfit was monochromatic but in an entirely different hue than the presiding look. Hardeman thrives on chaos and surprise. Her fall/winter show was a collection of characters who looked more like a European gang behind a pub than models. And that’s how Hardeman likes it.

Hardeman attended the self-described “experimental” Rietveld School of Design and worked for German designer Bernhard Willhelm in Los Angeles before starting her own denim line. Hardeman initially chose to work with denim due to its all-inclusive nature.

“I needed to figure out a language that everyone could relate to so I could speak to everyone, not just people who like fashion,” Hardeman told Dazed magazine. “Denim has a lot of topstitching and when I play with shape, it’s very directly, visually deformed. Also, the history is interesting – it’s gone through such a revolution. Jeans used to be complete workman’s attire – coalmines, cowboys – then became (the uniform of) motor boys, and so fourth.”

Hardeman incorporates that history of denim into her themed shows. Past collections have drawn inspiration from drag queens to hoedowns to prom. Hardeman also creates short films to accompany each collection, highlighting her complete vision. “I couldn’t make clothes without making films or presentation,” Hardeman said. “I think that’s where a collection really comes alive.”

Hardeman’s brand is defined by making everyday occurrences be exotically out of the ordinary. Her unending inspiration comes from a variety of sources, including seemingly boring tasks. “I gather inspirations from daily happenings– from people at the laundry mat accidentally looking amazing because they dressed out of necessity,” Hardeman explained. “Status quo is to be looking good dressed bad, so basically you can get away with anything.”

Hardeman’s latest collection stays true to her message. We now know to only expect the unexpected from Hardeman.

 

 

Screen Shot 2018-08-10 at 1.23.51 AM.png

Taoray Wang Sticks to Basics with NYFW Show

Originally published on Trend Prive

Shanghai designer Taoray Wang has a signature look that is present in every show: a play on the classic 80s women’s power suit.

Wang is most well-known in the U.S. for being the favorite designer of Tiffany Trump, the 24-year-old daughter of President Donald Trump and Marla Maples. However, Wang strives to embody all women, not just those in the national spotlight. “I’m always targeting leading women, and also those who are fond of suits,” Wang said.

Wang has a varied history in the fashion industry. After graduating from East China Normal University, she trained at Mode Gaskuen in Tokyo where she won 5 international fashion awards. Wang worked for menswear line Junko Koshino in Tokyo and lived in England for a number of years. She founded her eponymous line in 2014 with financial backing from Wang Weidong, president of Ribo Fashion Groups, where Wang worked for 12 years as creative director for the brand Broadcast: Bo.

Tiffany Trump has worn Wang’s designs at presidential campaign debates, election night, and her father’s inauguration. Tiffany has been present at every Taoray Wang NYFW show, including this unveiling of the fall/winter 2018 collection, alongside her mother Maples.

The latest collection stuck to white, red, and black as a color palette, with two styles in navy and one in olive green. The first handful of looks were flared business suits with pops of reddish-orange hues along the internal flare of the pants. Wang then transitioned into a pinstripe theme, with a white-cream and fringe-adorned theme following.  All except two outfits were suiting styles, either pantsuits or office-ready dresses. Each suit had a touch of sheer lace with visible skin-colored undergarments to add some femininity to the office look.

 “It doesn’t just say the masculine suit, but also adds a bit of sex appeal,” Wang said.

Yet the repetition of the lace-pantsuit-pinstripe combo resulted in a tired show. Wang’s velvet plaid suit with orange trim and black lace bustier was a refreshing outfit among the conservative models.

The trend Wang predicted for fall was a woolly texture that she used on shoulder pads and pockets of oversized blazers and coats. The wool look ranged in color from a natural brown to black.

Wang has been known for her use of unexpected pleating and asymmetrical hemlines for her tailored looks. Yet this business attire collection seemed to be just reiterations of the same look that has been in shown over and over again in the fashion industry until making its way to ZARA and H&M last season.

The most memorable pieces from the show were also eerily similar to styles seen before in the fashion world: a navy shirt dress with oversized cuffs and ties that seemed to be one of Brandon Kee’s creations from the latest season of Project Runway, and a red military coat with patent leather trim that was identical to a jacket from Olivia Palermo for Banana Republic. Oddly enough, Palermo was sitting front row at the show in one of her signature oversized blazers.

The Taoray Wang fall show lacked a showstopping piece. Although the tired styles seemed already done, the tailoring and material quality set Wang’s looks apart from the others.

Wang looks to the future for both herself and other Chinese designers. She cites the current political climate as an opportunity for Asian designers to become recognized in the U.S. “I’ve been very lucky since brand China is taking off globally,” Wang said. “The stronger China gets, the more the world will pay attention to Chinese designers.”

Unfortunately, this latest show for Wang was not as surprising and innovative than past runways. No doubt, though, that Taoray Wang will no doubt continue to make conservative, classic suit wear.

Screen Shot 2018-08-10 at 1.20.44 AM.png

Alice McCall Brings Australian Cool to NYFW

Originally published on Trend Prive

Australian designer Alice McCall made her stylish NYFW debut with her eponymous luxury clothing line. McCall’s celebrity-beloved brand already has a growing amount of buzz in the U.S. after Beyonce donned a matching shirt and skirt combination outfit, but her place in the international fashion world is solidified after her successful show.

McCall’s signature jumpsuits and cocktail dresses brought flounce to the fall season on the runway. Her first NYFW was well-received, with It girls like Alexa Chung watching the catwalk as stylish models strutted past. McCall’s collection featured  feather details and embroidery, adding a vintage flair to her effortlessly youthful brand.

McCall seeks to create “powerful, strong female silhouettes,” as she described. The standout gown of the collection was made for awards season; even McCall told reporters she was hoping the piece would be selected for the Academy Awards runway. “There’s a gown that looks like an Oscar….it’s gold and fabulous,” McCall said. “There are definitely some pieces that would be worthy of the red carpet.”

For retail, McCall has positioned her brand to appeal to both mothers and daughters, offering conservative dresses next to youthful jumpsuits and cocktail frocks. Yet all pieces maintain a level of luxury and classic style. “I believe in quality and a unique product and something that has longevity because I am not dictated by trends,” McCall said.

The NYFW show comes at a time of change for the brand. McCall stresses the elements of luxury at a reasonable cost. With most dresses retailing at an average of $300, McCall has hit a sweet spot of affordable quality. “I’m mindfully elevating the brand, giving it a slightly more premium feel but that’s without alienating our core customer base,” McCall said. “I belief now is the best time to be showing at NYFW.”

Alice McCall clothing is available on Net-A-Porter, Shopbop, Moda Operandi, and Intermix.

 

Screen Shot 2018-08-10 at 1.17.32 AM.png

H&M Accused of Burning Tons of Unwanted Clothes

Originally published on Trend Prive

This season’s trends aren’t the only thing on fire at the fast-fashion empire H&M. The Swedish brand was recently accused of burning a whopping 12 tons of unsold clothes in past year due to overproduction.

Danish news station Operation X from TV2 investigated what H&M does with apparel that does not sell. The story quickly led them to waste disposal company KARA/NOVEREN. Journalists from Operation X state that they witnessed the incineration of unwanted garments first hand, and estimate that H&M has destroyed approximately 60 tons of clothes since 2013.

The Operation X piece focused on pairs of children’s cowboy-themed pants as well as dark blue women’s slacks– all with price-tags attached. In total, over 30,000 pants, or 1,580 kilos, were destroyed during this investigation.

“This is of course not true,” a spokesperson for H&M stated. “The clothes featured in the program are stopped orders that have been sent to incineration because of mold or not complying with our strict chemical restrictions, which is according to our routines for stopped orders.”

To justify their claims and debunk H&M’s defense of only destroying toxic products, Operation X journalists took two different pairs of trousers that had been sent to KARA/NOVEREN to be incinerated and tested them at an independent laboratory for chemicals. In further comparison, Operation X also purchased two similar pairs of pants from an H&M store to test as well. They tested for a wide range of dangerous chemicals that, according to Danish regulations, would constitute the clothes as posing a health risk. According to the study, none of the pants– neither the ones in store or the pairs sent to be destroyed–contained any chemicals.

H&M countered the tests by stating that the cowboy trousers sent to be incinerated contained an “increased level of lead” in their metal detailing and that the women’s pants had mold. Operation X restated their findings that none of the clothes tested had any traces of mold or high levels of lead. In fact, the “damaged” cowboy pants had only one-tenth of the permissible limit of lead value, even less than the ones purchased at the store. H&M stands by their claim that the tests performed by Operation X were invalid. H&M also made their brand test results available online for the public to view.

“The products media refers to have been tested in external laboratories. The test results show that one of the products is mold infested and the other product contains too high levels of lead,” H&M stated. “According to the test we have, the test for lead performed by the Danish program didn’t include the whole garment and not the part affected by too high levels of lead. The other test performed by the Danish program didn’t include tests for mold. This is the reason why our tests differ.”

H&M instead changed the conversation to that of global safety. “H&M has one of the strictest Chemical Restrictions in the industry and we do regular testing, often in external laboratories,” the company explained. “Accordingly, the restrictions often go further than the law demands as we want our customers to feel totally safe to use our products.”

H&M also assured that products that cannot be sold to reasons other than chemical residue are donated to charity and recycled.

On the surface, H&M does promote sustainability efforts. The company has a variety of initiatives to encourage customers to bring their unwanted clothing into retail stores for a percentage discount on purchases. H&M has also launched collections made with recycled textiles, organic cotton, and sustainable materials. They strive to move to a circular business model to minimize waste.

“We work hard to ensure that we maximize the use and the value of our products in line with the principles of the circular economy and waste hierarchy,” an H&M spokesperson stated.  “Incineration is, therefore, the very last option that we only allow under very special circumstances when re-use or recycling is not an option, such as when our products are contaminated by mold or not complying with our strict chemical restrictions.”

However, this is not the first time H&M has been under fire for environmental reasons. In 2010, the retailer was accused of dumping unwanted garments in a New York Times expose.

“We are puzzled why some media is suggesting that we would destroy other products than those required. There is absolutely no reason for us to do such a thing,” H&M said.

Operation X stands by their findings. A professor of sustainable design at the Kolding Design School in Denmark also supports the Operation X study. “It’s dramatic if we’re talking about fashion because the trends in fashion are temporary,” Professor Else Skjold said. “It something is not in fashion, then it can’t be sold anymore.” Skjold cites overproduction and the crowded trends of fast fashion with the H&M destruction case.

We can all agree that where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

 

Screen Shot 2018-08-10 at 1.10.35 AM.png

Radical Transparency: How Everlane is Changing Retail

Originally published on Trend Prive

The online-only clothing line Everlane welcomes visitors with a simple hashtag: #KnowYourFactories. This declaration prompts a deeper question, one we often shy away from: do we really know where our products come from? In an era plagued with child labor violations, unfair wages, and unsafe manufacturing, Everlane instead promises what they call “radical transparency”: the opportunity to know exactly who made that cute sweater you just ordered and what it really cost.

The San Francisco-based brand redefines the standards of ethical retail. Founder Michael Preysman sought to “fix” the retail system of large overhead costs and aggressive mark-ups in 2011. With a current evaluation of $250 million, it seems Everlane is on the right track for retail brilliance.

Today, with former Gap creative director Rebekka Bay the head of product and design, Everlane has expanded their product offerings. The Everlane closet is now just as diverse as its customers, offering Grade-A cashmere sweaters, Italian leather shoes, and Peruvian Pima tees. The global emphasis both of factory employees and materials makes Everlane a quintessentially current company.

Factory workers are celebrated at Everlane. Every Black Friday, the company donates part of their profits to directly benefit their workers via the Black Friday Fund initiative. Everlane issues a “compliance audit” for each factory, evaluating employee happiness and environmental working standards. Their website offers a map for customers to see the variety of factory locations that Everlane partners with and what is produced per each workplace.

 

The Los Angeles factory, Mola Inc., is in charge of t-shirt garment dying. Mola is owned by Mr. Kim, and is one of the few mills in Los Angeles that also finishes the jersey cotton fabric. Their 120 employees are mainly women.

The Everlane Pima cotton is picked by hand in Lima, Peru. The Lives SAC factory was founded by Theresa Telge, a former ranch owner. Lives SAC is now run by her three daughters, Veronica, Ceci, and Patricia.

The individual stories from a slew of other factories–leather in Vicenza, Italy; fleece in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; knitwear from Dongguan, China; and many more–just further shows how committed Everlane is to human rights and credible business.

Yet Everlane is not just changing the face of factories. The retailer is also revolutionizing how to educate consumers on their products. Everlane makes sure that customers are aware of the exact cost of their purchase. The company–in an unprecedented sales strategy–is completely transparent not only with the source of their pieces but also their marginal profits. “We believe our customers have a right to know how much their clothes cost to make,” Everlane states. “We reveal the true costs behind all of our products—from materials to labor to transportation—then offer them to you, minus the traditional retail markup.” The website shows cost breakdowns for each item, ranging from raw material costs to transport fees.

The good conscience of Everlane just adds to the fashionable minimalist style that the brand radiates. Everlane offers garments for both men and women, ranging from sweaters to shoes. Recently, Everlane just announced the release of a jean. In true Everlane fashion, their concept of a jean is using Japanese denim with a lighter environmental footprint.

Everlane’s admirable company standards and adorable outfits both seem to be never-ending. Everlane continues to disrupt the retail terrain. We can’t wait to see what they do next.

Screen Shot 2018-08-10 at 1.08.41 AM.png