Abby Moriarty never thought she would leave Calvin Klein, but six months after Raf Simons’ arrival, restructuring happened and she lost her job as vice president of design.
“I found myself at a loss,” said Moriarty. “It came as a big shock to me, but I started thinking about what I could do with all that I learned there.”
Moriarty, who helped lead design for the Calvin Klein White Label assortment that’s sold in department stores, decided to stick with American sportswear, but has taken a different approach. Called 1920, her men’s and women’s T-shirt line is grounded in modernist design — 1920 is the year the T-shirt was entered in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
“When I was at Calvin, I would travel four times a year to places like Hong Kong, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and we were always thinking about how can we get more for less and not thinking about the impact it’s having on our environment and our culture,” said Moriarty. “It really prompted me to take a step back and I saw how much fast fashion has influenced the market. And for a more commercial brand it was tough to compete with what they were doing. I really wanted to focus on simplicity and something that’s a mainstay in our culture. It’s an iconic piece of design and a lot of my inspiration is rooted from artistic influences, not trends.”
Moriarty looked to modernist designers such as Le Corbusier and pop-culture icons like Marlon Brando to design her collection of T-shirts, which are made in Greenpoint, Brooklyn from American-made Supima cotton. The men’s line, which retails from $85 to $145, includes a roll neck crew neck T-shirt, a classic crewneck T-shirt and a sweatshirt. The women’s assortment, which retails from $80 to $145, includes a muscle T-shirt, a relaxed crewneck T-shirt and a sweatshirt. According to Moritary, the goal was to price it between Everlane and a contemporary brand.
Moriarty said she plans to keep distribution direct-to-consumer, but would consider a limited number of strong accounts for wholesale partnerships. She’s hoping to avoid some of the issues plaguing contemporary brands due to fast fashion by focusing on everyday essentials and offering value.
“Everyone is going through so many changes and trying to figure out how they are going to stand out,” said Moriarty. “I think everyone needs to stay true to what they are and offer great product. But having a strong identity and telling a story is superimportant.”