Lou & Grey is a case of the apple falling far from the tree.
Though borne out of the former Loft Lounge line, “Lou & Grey is its own brand,” states Kay Krill, president and chief executive officer of Ann Inc., parent of Ann Taylor, Loft and now Lou & Grey.
During a preview of the first and only freestanding Lou & Grey store, which is located in Westport, Conn., Krill described what she considers the essence of the brand: “Everything is about comfort — that’s the filter.” It’s a fusion of streetwear and loungewear, with a fashion component, not a performance component, she added.
The store has a soothing feeling — small, not cluttered. It’s neutral in palette, and that goes for both the collection and the interior decor. There’s a predominance of gray, oatmeal and indigo across the collection and there’s lots of texture, rather than color. The fit is loose but not floppy with items typically cinched for some definition.
Prices are easy to take too, ranging from $30 to $100, including textured terry and knit lace dresses, $59; unconstructed blazers with mélange jersey linings, $89; textured popovers, $59; nubby knit sweatshirts, $39.50; densely knit T-shirt dresses with zippers in the back, $59.50; knit pants with zipper pockets and wide elastic waistbands, $59.50; lace shorts, $49.50, and T-shirts with woven backs and knit fronts, $39.50.
“The clothes are versatile. A knit pant can be dressed up with a blouse and heels. It’s still relaxed and easy and not casual anymore,” said Austyn Zung, creative director for Loft/Lou & Grey.
There’s a lifestyle approach to the merchandising, meaning there’s more than just the sportswear. Culled from third-party artisans, candles, ceramic tabletop and vases, fragrances, organic beauty products, books and tie-dyed, down-filled pillows round out the assortment. There are also cotton canvas makeup bags and pouches as well as jewelry, including necklaces with ceramic teardrop charms, priced $69.50, and precious metal bracelets, $39.50.
The environment is clean with a nod to nature, with painted oak floors, clothing racks suspended by natural rope, a large concrete island doubling as a cash wrap and for merchandise display, and hanging copper lamps. With the fitting area, there’s a big backlit screen projecting visuals from the ad campaign.
The 1,200-square-foot space was carved out of an existing Loft store, though future units are seen at 2,000 to 3,000 square feet. Four additional freestanding Lou & Grey shops will open this year, though no further locations have been announced. While the brand targets “a broad demographic” and can work in malls, downtown urban areas and suburbia, as Krill said, there’s no rush to spawn a national chain. There are already Lou & Grey shops-in-shop across the Loft chain. “We want to be smart and disciplined about it,” Krill said, regarding a rollout. There’s also no urgency to put up an e-commerce Lou & Grey Web site. “That’s down the road,” Krill said, hesitant to specify any timing.
Despite the caution, Lou & Grey is past the testing phase. “There’s a business here,” said Gary Muto, president of Ann Inc. Brands. “We’re not starting this from scratch,” he added, noting Lou & Grey is an evolution of the Loft Lounge label, which was launched in 2009. In December, Loft Lounge was recast as Lou & Grey and in January the new label was introduced on the Loft selling floors and on loft.com with an elevated assortment extending beyond loungewear. “We’ve made it larger and we think about it as a lifestyle brand that will work everywhere,” said Muto.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast