I was first introduced to BREN when Refinery29 recently posted the brand’s new Spring/Summer 2012 lookbook. With lightweight fabrics, sherbert hues, and clean silhouettes, the collection is the perfect balance of East-meets-West. It’s a wardrobe for the girl who embodies the best of both coasts – cool and casual yet sophisticated and elegant. I love the entire collection but personally, picking up the white overalls is my #1 priority this season. I had the chance to touch base with designers, and identical twins, Jenny and Brie Maletz to discuss their burgeoning brand, what brought them to fashion design, and the importance of being a brand that also supports local businesses.
Q. You both attended fashion design school. Growing up, did you always know you’d both become fashion designers? Or was it a windy road?
A. When we were very young, we had all sorts of ideas. Jenny wanted to be a professional mountain climber while Brie wanted to be an astronaut. As we got older, Jenny thought about journalism and Brie considered becoming a paramedic or Veterinarian. The one interest we always shared was fashion design. We planned to work together so, ultimately, that made our decision.
Q. Does your education in London and New York inspire your designs along with your California upbringing? If so, what about these locations do you find most inspiring?
A. The fashion in California, New York and London are so incredibly different from one another due to geography and weather, as well as the music, film, art and other cultural influences. Everything from the landscape to the lifestyles opened our minds, both as designers and as people.
Q. BREN is the perfect balance of West coast cool and East coast sophistication. Was it a struggle to find that balance?
A. We have lived on both the East and West Coasts. We took the most prominent details of each coast’s style and combined them. It’s an ongoing process that is always evolving, but we strive to create clothing that is both comfortable and refined.
Q. What’s it like being identical twins and business partners? Do you collaborate together on all areas of the business, or tackle separate responsibilities?
A. We share the same visions and goals for the company. We design and develop each collection together. We split up the less fun responsibilities, but for themost part, try to spend as much time working together as possible.
Q. I love that BREN really values supporting local business. When starting BREN was it always a priority that you keep the production local?
A. We knew we wanted to produce locally from the beginning. We have always wanted to have a business where we can help others, work with charities, and eventually have a foundation of our own. We aren’t at that point in our business yet where we can do that, but in working domestically with other small businesses, we feel we are doing our part.
Q. What are the challenges and rewards you face in doing so?
A. We like to be very hands on, and in having our clothing made in LA, we are able to ensure that the quality and fit of the garments are at their best. The challenges we face are mostly logistical. It’s a lot of running around from one vendor to the next. Material and labor costs are higher and harder to come by, but it’s worth it for us.
Q. You launched BREN in 2011. It must have been a very monumental year for you both! What are you looking forward to for the brand in 2012 and beyond?
A. Starting Bren was a dream come true! It has been a wonderful ride so far and we are excited to see what the future holds. We hope that with each season, we will be more widely distributed in North America and overseas.
Q. And now for a fun question, what do you find most inspiring about one another?
A. BRIE: Jenny is so meticulous. She’s thorough, never skips steps or takes short cuts. JENNY: Brie is incredibly tough. No matter the obstacle, she persists through, on and upward.
All images via BREN.