The last six months or so have been full of big changes for Scott Studenberg and John Targon of Baja East. They’re now a bicoastal operation — Studenberg moved to Los Angeles, where much of the collection is produced, over the summer. After years of working out of their apartment, they have a proper office on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. And as of earlier this month, Targon has an additional full-time job at Marc Jacobs, where he was hired to direct the contemporary portion of the collection. “I’ve always been obsessed with Marc and the brand; I’m excited they asked me to come on board,” he said of his new role, declining to comment further.
Despite the spate of personal and professional changes, the designers said the division of labor remains the same. Baja East is continuing to operate business as usual, “1,000 percent, full throttle,” said Targon, during a preview of their fall collection, the first they’ve shown via look book and private appointment instead of a show or presentation, to focus on sales and growth. To that end, another change for the brand is that the prices have come down significantly by working with their manufacturers on better margins without skimping on fabric quality.
“Basically everything is under $1,000,” said Studenberg. They’ve also increased their size range to include bigger sizes for men and women. “We’re body- and wallet-inclusive,” said Targon. The collection remains 85 percent unisex. The fall collection, divided into four deliveries shipping from May to October, started with pastels and beaded, fringed sweats and progressed to deep navy, green and burgundy cashmere, velvet and crepe as the season goes on.
The look is still based on the premise of “loose-luxe” street and ath-leisure with an uptick in graphic Ts and sweats that combine branding and a sense of humor. Two of the key graphics for fall are riffs on classic Visa and Mastercard logos replacing their brand names with Baja-isms meant as a play on social currency. The “Puff Puff Pass” card belongs to Mr. Bud Clouds, expiration date 4/20, and the “Thriving” card belongs to Ms. Bout’da Benjaminz. It wasn’t all cute kitsch. Studenberg and Targon have always appealed to a customer for whom the professional life looks casual but isn’t sloppy. T-shirts and sweatshirts could be built into a luxurious, loose suit with soft blazers and joggers in crepe and velvet. Baja babes want to be comfortable, but they’re not slacking.