For cousins Ling and Emily Chen, and their close friend Connie Wong, their new venture — a scarf collection called We Are Owls — is the culmination of years of brainstorming. Close friends since they attended Manhattan’s LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts, the threesome, each 31, talked about collaborating on an art project throughout high school. “We just never knew what it was,” Emily says. Then came college; armed with degrees from design schools (Fashion Institute of Technology for Emily, Parsons The New School for Design for Connie and Ling), the three went their separate ways at various fashion companies (Ling, the creative mastermind behind the trio’s new line, is the design director of The Breed). But over brunch last year, they hatched the idea for an accessories company, deciding to design and produce vast, whimsical cashmere scarves. The name of the collection stems from the group’s nocturnal habits and work ethic: “While the world sleeps, we are awake,” explains Emily, who handles sales and marketing for the line. “We have our day jobs, like everyone else, but we find ourselves up late at night inspired by the hunger to create art and design.” A 36-by-80-inch scarf will wholesale for $98, and, thus far, Shopbop.com, Ron Herman, Big Drop and TNT have signed on to sell the pieces for fall.
And these are not wispy spring neckties. Imagine a swath of cashmere, sourced from the mountains of Mongolia, emblazoned with images of bird flocks, willow branches, even an oversize (and creepily mesmerizing) skeleton. As the designers explained: “Our scarves should not just function as a piece to keep you warm, but should also make a statement, like the perfect jewelry or bag that makes the outfit.”
A Stella McCartney sketch of a custom dress made from protein-based silk in partnership with biotech lab Bolt Threads. The dress will be displayed at The Museum of Modern Art's upcoming design exhibition, "Items: Is Fashion Modern?"