NEW YORK — When Susan Standen started making scarves two years ago, she had no plans to sell them at Barneys New York, Colette in Paris or anywhere else for that matter. Susan began researching how to make men’s silk scarves with hand-tied fringing after being inspired by vintage scarves worn by her husband, Dirk Standen, Style.com’s editor in chief (Style.com is owned by Fairchild, also the parent of WWD).
This story first appeared in the September 11, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“The first ones were made as gifts, but people started noticing the scarves,” she said. “Friends of mine were wearing them, and I thought about doing a women’s collection of scarves.”
She did just that, and thanks to the success of her men’s line — which retails from $300 to $700 at Barneys, The Webster in Miami and Colette — Standen was able to gain some traction with her women’s collection, which has been picked up by the same retailers and keeps the same pricing.
While some of the designs from the women’s line are derived from the men’s collection, which boasts fringes, solid, print and kimono-inspired patterns, the new collection mixes duchesse satin, double silk, studs, Swarovski Elements or leather, in some cases. Animal prints make a debut in the women’s line and are in contrast to the paisleys and geometric foulard printing of the men’s collection.
One element that runs through both collections is the way of wearing the scarves — Standen looks to film stars and musicians from the Sixties and Seventies, such as Keith Richards and Faye Dunaway.
“They knew how to accessorize and bring out their beauty and individuality,” she said, noting that both collections offer dressier options such as neckties for black-tie events. “I don’t think people today think of scarves in that way anymore. But a scarf as a gift is very romantic.”
Eschewing the popularity of the pashmina scarf and the way of wearing it, Standen is hoping her female customers embrace the different ways of wearing scarves.
“Women can wear a very tailored jacket with a scarf. Kate Moss does it,” she offered. “Or for a softer look for evening, [they can wear] a superlong luxurious scarf.”
Standen, who developed an exclusive women’s collection that is sold at Barneys, manufactures all her scarves in New York.
“It’s all handmade,” she said, explaining that she sources most of the materials from the Italian mills in Lake Como, at auctions online and from various fabric suppliers. “I’ve been growing the business really slowly. We have no showroom and we have not approached any stores.
“I want to keep it small,” she said. “I do believe in offering a lot of patterns so people have a lot of choice, but I don’t want to have a lot of large quantities.”