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NEW YORK — Jesse Nicely and Frenel Morris have been friends for five years and business partners for almost two. In 2003 they started the boutique design firm Double Penny Collection, and headed projects for advertising agencies True Agency and Malbon Brothers Farms and magazines like Trace, Frank and The Source.

This fall, they’re stepping into the fashion game with their debut accessories line, Still Life. “It’s our first official product release under the Double Penny umbrella,” Nicely said.

Still Life is a collection of custom-made hats and gloves, a logical move if you consider Morris’ slight obsession with hats. “I’ve only seen Frenel without a hat once — when we went to dinner with my grandparents.” Nicely said. “As soon as he started making these, I knew we were in the right realm.”

The collection ranges from modified fedoras to styles with elongated side flaps. Their wholesale price range is $25 to $150. “Hats change the way your face looks,” Morris said. “I don’t pay attention to trends. I make what I like and what I know looks good.”

Styles such as the Oscar Wild (sic), The Prem and the Yo Cobra are named after people who’ve inspired Morris, but he believes, “the product should speak for itself.” He uses fabrics like leather, tweed, fur and suede, but is willing to use any fabrics his clients request. “Recently I did one in lambskin.” Still Life is shipping fall and winter designs. “We’re doing business in Los Angeles, so we’ll use lighter fabrics like cotton and linen,” Morris said.

They plan to expand the line to include sportswear. “I’m currently sketching designs that would be perfect for snowboarders,” Morris said of styles that will come in durable fabrics like Gortex and nylon. “It’s a tough cap that can fit under snowboarders’ helmets and wrap completely around their face.

“I want these hats to cross all genders and cultures,” said Morris. “In the Forties and Fifties everyone wore hats. I’m here to bring back the hat game.” Still Life is available at the boutiques Rival and La di Da in New York and Noni and Indigo Flower in Los Angeles.

This story first appeared in the September 16, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

— Lauren DeCarlo