Having given herself a mini makeover, Daniella Clarke is returning to the fashion industry with a new attitude.
After selling Frankie B., the premium denim brand that she started in 1999 and then popularized with daringly low rises on the jeans, Clarke is introducing a denim and sportswear line called Weslin & Grant. Launching for fall, the 40-piece collection represents a different aesthetic for the designer. Inspired by images of Lauren Hutton from the Seventies and motivated by her own changing style, she conjured a full collection replete with trousers, skirts, blazers, vests, T-shirts and jeans. She is working with fabrics such as velveteen corduroy, leather and Supima cotton, all steeped in a neutral palette of black, white, gray and metallics.
“I’m starting fresh,” said Clarke, who filled the interim between Frankie B. and Weslin & Grant by collaborating with brands such as activewear label Solow.
While denim makes up half the line, Clarke went beyond what was expected of her. For instance, she cut the rugged fabric into a boyfriend blazer with matching slouchy trousers. At Frankie B., “I was always known for the low-rise jean. I couldn’t do anything else,” she said. “Now that I am a little older than I was when I first started in the business, my style has changed. I really feel more comfortable in slouchy trousers and slouchy blazers. I really like the look of it.”
So does her 21-year-old daughter, Frankie, who provides insight into what Millennials like. When asking for her opinion on whether the trousers should be skinny or slouchy, Clarke said Frankie preferred the latter.
Still, the line could hardly be described as frumpy. Clarke narrowed white and black jeans into the skinniest leg openings, and a moto vest in leather zips close to the body.
Except for the leather garments, all the clothing is produced in Los Angeles. The average wholesale price ranges between $79 and $89, and the priciest item is a leather pencil skirt that wholesales for $225. “Every piece can be worn with another piece in the line,” she said. “It’s streamlined and clean and can go with anything.”
Again, Clarke took a personal approach to naming her business, plucking the monikers after her luckiest streets in Southern California. One was where she lived with her husband, former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke, when they first met, and the other was where they had their daughter.
The big difference between Frankie B. and Weslin & Grant is that she’s plotting her own course. With Frankie B., which launched at the onset of the first wave of the premium denim boom alongside Seven For All Mankind and Joe’s Jeans, “I felt like I was on a wild horse, barely holding on. It just took off,” she said. With Weslin & Grant, “I would be happy with less than $5 million [in annual sales],” she said. “I’m doing it myself. Really, my goal here is to build a brand and build it slow and steady.”