Marissa Webb spent more than 10 years in the J. Crew boot camp, working as head of women’s design with Jenna Lyons and Mickey Drexler, when she left to pursue her own line in 2011.
“A lot of people ask me, ‘Will your collection look like J. Crew?’ ” she says while prepping the collection over the summer. “The honest answer is: In my mind, no. But after being at J. Crew for 11 years, a lot of my own personal aesthetic is in J. Crew, because that was my job. The same things that influenced me then influence me now.”
Her first presentation, held at Lincoln Center in September, drew on the masculine-feminine point-counterpoint that is key to J. Crew, but Webb’s version was a little tougher, a little more sophisticated and urban, with an emphasis on leathers—tunics, biker shorts and motorcycle pants—along with graphic black and white. The line is priced at upper contemporary, starting around $125 for a T-shirt up to $1,500 for dresses.
Bedrock Manufacturing Co., the Dallas-based firm that also holds Steven Alan in its stable of fashion ventures, has a minority stake in Webb’s business. Steven Alan, in turn, is handling her sales, thus is also one of Webb’s eight retailers.
CV: Studied at Fashion Institute of Technology; worked at Club Monaco, Polo and J. Crew before launching her line for spring 2013.
Retailers: Eight, including six Barneys New York doors and Barneys Japan, Steven Alan and Deborah James.
Design Philosophy: Tough versus feminine, sophisticated while urban.
Julien David is a prime example of just how global the fashion trajectory can be. A native of Paris, he honed his craft in New York. After eight years, he participated in a year-long French cultural exchange program with Japan, which inspired him to move to Tokyo and launch his own label. It started with scarves, gradually evolving into outerwear and ultimately a full women’s and men’s collection.
Today, David, 33, brings a distinctive point of view to the industry by melding Japanese culture with French expertise. Known for his accessible streetwear accents, his quirky touch sets him apart from other emerging designers. For spring—David’s third runway show—he riffed on schoolgirls gone bad with blazers and pleated skirts rendered with a Japanese wit, particularly evident in his mix of striking prints.
“There is a different approach here,” David says of his adopted hometown. “They don’t have the weight of the history of Western clothes. They perceive and mix pieces very differently. It’s much more playful.”
David, who is self-financed, won France’s prestigious Andam Fashion Award in July, giving him a 230,000 euro (about $300,000) boost along with a two-season mentorship from Pierre-Yves Roussel, chief executive officer of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s fashion division. While the recognition has made him think about spending more time in Paris, David is not quite ready to leave Japan. “Everything seems so organized, but at same time it’s so busy and so lively,” he says. “I think that’s what seduced me.”
CV: Studied at Parsons The New School for Design; worked for Narciso Rodriguez and Ralph Lauren before launching his line three years ago.
Retailers: 60 stores, including Colette, Browns and Opening Ceremony.
Design Philosophy: Cool riffs on streetwear with plays on proportion and volume, all worked in upscale fabrics. NEXT: Brood >>
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