Emily Current and Meritt Elliott have a new gig. The Great designers have been tapped by outdoor brand Eddie Bauer for a yearlong collaboration.
The partnership kicks off Nov. 16 with the launch of the Eddie Bauer x The Great holiday collection of Americana-influenced thermal sets, quarter zips, fleece jackets, pullovers, down quilted outerwear and classic HuntPac boots with the colorful floral, stripe and ditsy daisy motifs for which the designers are known. The range, $60 to $380, also includes knit hats, plush slippers and waist packs, and will be sold at both The Great and Eddie Bauer websites.
“We’re huge fans of Eddie Bauer, mostly from growing up in Northern California. We recall our moms and dads wearing it, and picking out a coat for ourselves every year. So much of our growing up was influenced by that catalogue and brand,” Current said. “We had a lifelong love affair with nostalgia that feels wearable and comfortable. It’s the kind of brand we always keep an eye on as we flea market and collect for vintage flannels, outerwear, down and raincoats.”
The Los Angeles designers were excited to learn from the brand how to bring technical capabilities to outerwear and footwear beyond what they’d been doing with The Great, and to create things that could be worn in cold weather and snow.
They visited the Eddie Bauer archives in Bellevue, Wash., virtually last year, looking at the mini museum of the brand’s hundred years — everything from photos to pieces of gear, to Eddie’s desk and typewriter.
“We learned a lot about Eddie and his life and started digging into his wife’s wardrobe. Her name was Christine but he called her ‘Stine,'” Current said. “We also looked at old ad campaigns and catalogs, and pinned them on our design board.”
“We were dreaming about the next layers for the head-to-toe uniform of The Great,” said Elliott, noting the timing also aligned with the duo spending more time outdoors during quarantine, hiking the Santa Monica Canyons.
“We wanted to still feel like ourselves, stylish and cool but also warm. These are things we needed in our lives,” Current added.
“It’s all meant to be mixed and matched, but the down pieces are special because they are really packable. We worked hard to figure out the right weight. There’s a big puffy one and a lighter reversible one with a print on one side and solid on another. There’s a lot of plush and fleece. These are pieces we love to wear on trail, but can squish down into a backpack.”
Creating the HuntPac boots, a constant in their wardrobes growing up, was also a thrill. “To play with prints, embroidery and colored laces, they feel like the perfect marriage of our brands,” Current said.
“It was fun to see classic and technical and archive silhouettes reimagined through The Great lens and see both brands represented,” said Kristen Elliott, senior vice president of marketing for Eddie Bauer, which started launching collaborations six years ago, and has since teamed up with stylists Ilaria Urbinati and Karla Welch, Pendleton, designer Scott Studenberg of Baja East and more.
“The thing we’re excited about with The Great is the ability to weave a narrative throughout every season. We’re starting with holiday ’21, and also have spring, summer and fall ’22,” the executive said.
The collaboration comes on the heels of the opening of second The Great store, in Venice, Calif., and the designers’ plan to grow the six-year-old brand with 12 to 15 more stores in the next two years.