By  on March 28, 2011

The story of Cuts, the new label by JF & Son designers Jesse Finkelstein and Katie King, began with a party. Not your typical fashion party, this was a bash celebrating — why not? — a laser-cutting machine.

The event, hosted by City University of New York’s design entrepreneurial program called NYDesigns, took place last summer to fete its new 100W large-format Trotec machine. Guests there lasered everything from slabs of wood and plastic to ham sandwiches and crepes. Industrial designer Kevin McElroy, who happens to be friends with Finkelstein’s sister, fiddled with some jersey. Soon after, “He approached us to collaborate,” recalls Finkelstein. “It was a really interesting opportunity for all of us. The goal here is always to figure out how to create new and innovative textiles.”

In addition to their JF & Son collection, Finkelstein and King have a side business doing fabric development and production for other designers. In fact, the partnership with McElroy, who has designed home products and packaging, started out simply as a way to create new textiles with intriguing cut-out designs.

“That was the initial thought,” says Finkelstein. “We’d give him different materials — georgettes, linens, cottons — and he would come back with these beautiful swatches. It became really clear that this would really resonate if we made them into garments. That’s when we decided to make a collection around this collaboration.”

The trio dubbed the line Cuts and added three backslashes to the logo because, Finkelstein says, “they looked like cuts to me,” adding that, “While laser-cutting in and of itself is not terribly new, our goal was to use natural materials to make these cuttings more organic.”

Retailing from $88 to $528, the 17-piece fall collection ranges from leather tanks and shorts to simple pleated linen skirts and a cotton dress. Silhouettes are casual and basic — the better to showcase the intricate laser cut-outs, which range from tiny slashes and geometrics to a textured sequinlike pattern. There are bags too, including a canvas tote and an oversize leather hobo.

For those more familiar with JF & Son’s rich beadwork and embroideries, Finkelstein notes that the Cuts offerings aren’t that far off. “It’s the same process as creating a print or embroidery design,” he explains. “It’s really the same thing when you think about it.”

But, come spring, the designer says there will be more obvious crossover. “The next step is sending the laser pieces to our studio in India and having them play with them and see what comes out of that,” says Finkelstein. “There will be a whole other level of experience.”

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