As the men’s market nears its end and the women’s season kicks off, brands and buyers will flock to Las Vegas to check out the spring market. With Project Men’s and Women’s, WWDMAGIC, Liberty Fairs, Agenda and more commencing next week at the Las Vegas Convention Center and Sands Expo Center, here are some brands to keep on the radar.
Brand: Marine Layer
Designer: Molly Getty, chief creative officer
Backstory: Michael Natenshon joked that he started Marine Layer after his girlfriend threw out his favorite shirt. Although he crossed into the fashion world from the finance arena, Natenshon had always had an interest in apparel and just couldn’t find anything in the market quite like what he wanted. He moved to Los Angeles to study textiles and develop a fabric that would be the basis for Marine Layer. The founder and chief executive officer launched the brand in 2010, offering T-shirts to friends and family before opening a pop-up shop in San Francisco that eventually became a full-time lease and one of the brand’s 41 retail locations.
Though Marine Layer operates stores across the United States in big markets such as New York City, San Francisco, Southern California, Chicago, Boston, Miami and Washington, D.C., the label is entering wholesale for the first time with the spring 2020 collection. Ironically, Marine Layer has never had an interest in wholesale until this season. Natenshon said before bringing the collection to others, he wanted to make sure the brand experience was “on point.”
Now, the label will be at Project to “get in at the right time and with the right partners, because there’s still a lot of good independent specialty stores we’d like to be associated with.”
Natenshon, with chief creative officer Molly Getty and her team, introduced a Re-Spun program of upcycled T-shirts made from 100 percent recycled fleece and jersey fabrics, which will be a focus for the spring 2020 season.
Brand: Victor Li
Designer: Victor Li
Backstory: Victor Li launched his namesake label in 2018, one year after graduating from Parsons School of Design. Born in the U.S. and raised in China, Li draws inspiration from traveling and the travel lifestyle, and references his many trips with his family throughout Asia and Italy. The young designer first partnered with his father and later designer Claudia Li, who bears no relation, to develop his fledgling contemporary label that presented at New York Fashion Week: Men’s in 2018 and February 2019.
For his first collection, Li created his version of a versatile wardrobe to be worn on an errand run or on an island vacation. His follow-up offering is an expansion on the travel wardrobe, but with roots in Hokkaido, Japan, where he traveled for research and inspiration. Li this season introduces a collection inspired by his travels to Marrakesh and the Sahara desert.
“It’s about the color and memory and experience during the trip,” said Li about his third collection. Sketches of Marrakesh, city landscapes, fruits, animals and hot-air balloons became prints, patterns and jacquards. Pieces such as jumpsuits, a cardigan with a hot-air balloon graphic, a jacquard and trench coat derived from sketches, and shirts with camel, donkey and bush patterns are standouts of the young and boyish collection.
Brand: Irish Crone
Designer: Franco Santarini
Backstory: Before there was Irish Crone, there was the Eddy Ricami Project, a production house that created knits for prominent fashion houses such as Chanel, Gucci and Missoni. Franco Santarini, who cofounded the knitwear brand Irish Crone with a partner in 2016, received some of his formal training and expertise at Eddy Ricami before formally launching Irish Crone.
Though its name implies Irish roots and heritage, the brand is actually based in Civitanova in the Marche region of Eastern Italy, and has sold solely to the Italian market until this season. Santarini had spent years testing products before feeling ready to take the Irish Crone abroad, and now spring 2020 marks the brand’s first collection to be offered to the international market.
Santarini developed hybrid styles like T-shirts with Johnny collars and pique shirts with knit collars, and expanded on his weightless knit concept. “The focus has been weightlessness. As our climate changes, most men struggle with what to wear and still look polished,” said Katie Lie of Black Dog, the multibrand men’s wear showroom that represents Irish Crone.
The new collection, which is inspired by the sophisticated wardrobe in the film “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” features striped tops, patterned stitching and drop stitches for a tactile look, as well as an overall colorful offering that is a signature for the brand.
Brand: 8th Dstrkt
Designer: Grace Choi
Backstory: 8th Dstrkt launched in 2011 with a T-shirt and hat collection and quickly grew, producing pieces parodying high-end brands and introducing moto jeans. The New York City-based brand designed by Grace Choi is a trendy label that offers popular graphics and colors for customers who choose to style their outfits from the bottom up, beginning with their footwear. It has a brother label called Black Pike but 8th Dstrkt offers products made in Pakistan and Turkey with better fabrics like double jersey.
While the brand may be known for its patchwork details, it has introduced more subtly detailed pieces, and a “cleaner look,” according to Teresa Stallworth, part of the design and distribution team for the labels in New York. This includes cargo pants and shirts with utility details that counter its bright and trendy offering. In addition, the brand produces T-shirts featuring Negro League baseball teams through its partnership with Stall & Dean, which holds the license. The partnership is continuing through spring 2020.
Tie-dye and graphics are two of many stories for the brand this season, as well as utility pieces and neon colors. Choi overlaid graphics on colorful, tie-dye tops, and is introducing “hookups, or matching tops and bottoms, with bright and neon colors, graphics and graffiti patterns. Choi also eschewed patchwork details on denim jeans and jackets for rip-and-repair details and paint splatters.
Brand: More Than Yesterday
Designers: Jake and Suwon Kim
Backstory: South Korea-based husband-and-wife duo Jake and Suwon Kim launched More Than Yesterday in 2016 as the more sophisticated counterpart to their trendy contemporary label Love You So Much, which they started in 2011. Both brands target women in their 20s, with More Than Yesterday focused on offering chic-and-functional items like high-quality blazers and coats to help navigate professional life.
The brand ethos is rooted in a masculine-feminine, push-pull drawn from the founders’ creative relationship and backgrounds. Suwon Kim is the head designer, having majored in Fine Arts at Dong-A University in Korea, while Jake Kim majored in merchandise marketing from FIDM LA. Together, they’ve steered More Than Yesterday into gender-ambiguous territory through oversize silhouettes cut with fabrications that have a luxe hand touch.
Signature items have included reversible jackets, blazers, hand-made faux fur coats and trench coats. “We draw inspiration from the practicality often found in men’s wear, but express femininity through the use of soft materials, stylish details and added flourishes,” Jake Kim said.
The spring 2020 collection shown in Vegas will continue to blur the boundary between gender codes by blending classic tailoring with a modern, edgy spirit. “We want to celebrate being unique, and inspire women to be confident in displaying their uniqueness and sense of style,” Jake Kim continued. Such unique items include both reversible jackets and coats with detachable duck down liners that offer up two distinct looks for the price of one, or faux fur coats made to look and feel like the real deal. The muted color scheme ensures a quality of understated luxury, while splashes of pastel keep the collection from being one-note.
Brand: Nation LTD
Designer: Jessica Moss
Backstory: First-time exhibitor Nation LTD was re-established in 2017 after being in the market for over a decade. Creative director Jessica Moss, who joined the brand in 2016, has sought to overhaul the brand’s lounge-y T-shirt-driven history into more lifestyle territory that works for multiple occasions.
The brand’s aesthetic watchword, according to Moss, is versatility. “It’s about a really relaxed and effortless approach to dressing, but still dressed up, dressed down,” Moss said, adding: “There’s a polish to it that a lot of our competitors don’t have. The concept of the T-shirt is central to the line, but we’ve expanded it to other categories and made it a state of mind.”
Based out of Los Angeles, there’s a decided ease and comfort to knits, breezy dresses and new stonewashed cotton poplin shirts. The spring 2020 collection, for instance, will include relaxed Ts, printed tanks and slip dresses in punchy colors, all with a Seventies tinge. “Anytime you enter into a new decade, there’s nostalgia for decades past,” Moss added.
Highlights from spring include a bubblegum pink tank dress that nods to retro decadence, and a basketweave sweater in the same hue that looks perfectly thrifted. Smocking, ruffle accents and earthy hues are the tether to Seventies style that also makes dressing up as effortless as putting on a T-shirt.
But the brand isn’t focused solely on balancing comfort with flirty style — there’s also a hallmark of sustainability. The stonewashed cotton poplin is grown, harvested by hand, spun, woven, cut and sewn all in Peru to ensure a low carbon footprint. The majority of the knits, too, are made in Peru, including baby alpaca, which comes from alpacas that can produce up to five sweaters a year each. The brand also works with zero-waste factories, and is currently combing the market for plastic-free packaging. Of the socially conscious efforts, Moss concluded by saying: “There’s a demand for this product and lifestyle. As women’s lives get more complicated, you need your clothes to do more of the work for you.”
Brand: Sandrine Rose
Designer: Sandrine Abessera
Backstory: After a yearlong restructuring process, denim-based label Sandrine Rose is back in the market as a new exhibitor at Project Women’s in the hopes of introducing the brand to a host of new buyers.
Founder Sandrine Abessera launched the label in 2015 to evoke the intersection of French and California style — casual, everyday and effortless with a dash of vintage. “I wanted to create a playful and hassle-free ready-to-wear line in the French way of ‘less is definitely more’,” Abessera said on a call from Los Angeles, where she moved from Paris 13 years ago. The result was a vintage-inspired denim and T-shirt brand that took its cues from men’s wear and the artistic mediums Abessera has worked in, which include drawing, painting and photography.
It’s no surprise, then, that there’s a DIY approach to the designs: patchwork and embroidery are the foundations of jackets and jeans. These hand-done items are categorized under the moniker “I used to vintage, until I became a handmade original.” It made sense in the past to focus on specialty retailers such as Colette in Paris, Antonia in Milan, and other luxury chains.
But vintage is only half the business now. In the restructuring, newfound attention has been attributed to another vertical titled “the virgin label,” consisting of core items sans embellishments. “The virgin label is the raw state of timeless and conceptual minimalism through the exploration of denim and knit materials, fusing the worlds of modern and vintage,” Abessera added. “I wanted to add the perfect silhouette. There was too much embroidery.”
Buyers at the show can expect to see a range of denim silhouettes and relaxed tops that pay tribute to authentic vintage. “Spring 2020 celebrates what we define vintage to be,” she said. “From sourcing each detail to refining military olive drab hues, ancient woad blue, this collection thoughtfully reinterprets the codes of vintage criteria and femininity.”
Highlights include pants with a more relaxed fit that speak to a tomboyish sensibility, perfectly cut patchwork jeans, a washed denim kimono, and loosely fit Ts. Abessera is excited for buyers to see pants that may not be considered mainstream, and her favorite patchwork denim shirt that’s been washed down.
Brand: Oat New York
Designer: Christina Yi
Backstory: Christina Yi launched contemporary label Oat New York just this summer under BBC Apparel’s portfolio — which includes forward contemporary brand Blank NYC and juniors brand Dollhouse. Yi has stumbled into what can be considered every young designer’s dream: full creative control of her own line, backed by financial resources.
The designer is a graduate of RISD, and cut her teeth at Ralph Lauren, Madewell and Gap. In pitching her idea of what the brand should be — timeless designs with a cool ease — she made it a point to emphasize the importance of being sustainably minded in today’s landscape. Sustainability, after all, is one of the most hard-pressing issues facing the fashion industry.
There were barriers to creating a fully sustainable collection, though, such as access to factories with recycled materials worth using, and her first collection launched in June was only able to include a tencel created with wood pulp.
Expect to see a bigger push with sustainable materials for spring 2020, including a fabric made from recycled plastic bottles, and buttons made from coconut shells. “Sustainability is a very broad term, from the trim to the fabric to maybe just the usage or the process,” Yi said, adding: “Long term, I would love to work with factories overseas that are only using eco-friendly machines, and more ethical approaches when it comes to workers. I want to be more focused on community.”
In terms of silhouettes, key items include dresses and jumpsuits with a playful, commercial ease. “Naturally beautiful and effortlessly cool” is how Yi described the theme for spring, which will also include denim jackets, dresses and faux fur items.
As the brand is completely new, the sales team will be showing fall, holiday and spring at WWDMAGIC.