So thrilled to receive news in my inbox last week that Brooklyn-based brand Outlier has launched their complete women’s collection. The folks of Outlier have been hard at work developing the line for the gals, beginning with rebuilding their favorite menswear pieces with the female body in mind. The collection includes the 60/30 Chino, Daily Riding Pant, Doubleweave Shorts, Ultrafine Marino Tank, and Cali Pivot Shirt, all in the same excellent fabrics that have proven themselves in the mens collection.
Tag Archives: Women
I’m thrilled to have Ashley James on the blog today as part of my women series this month. I met Ashley through mutual friend Joe Gannon a couple years back. She designs and runs her own men’s denim line Ruell & Ray, and does a hella job doing it. To the point that her denim has reached cult status in the menswear industry and has women like me and Kat McMillan pining for her to make women’s (or just wearing the men’s). Ashley shares a bit about the brand and what brought her to men’s denim below.
Q. What is your background and what led you into the world of men’s denim?
A. I’ve been in the retail world for about 10 years, it all started at good ole’ A&F. I did a lot of visual merchandising, photo styling, management you name it I did it but I was never satisfied with my job at the end of the day. I wanted to do my own thing. So about 2.5 years ago I decided I was going to figure out what I wanted to do – Life is too short not to do what you love, and when it came down to it, clothing was my passion – I wanted my own brand. At the time denim seemed to be a great fit because I always obsessed over it. Men’s so happened to come first.
Q. You make all your denim with proper Deadstock materials, how do you source said materials?
A. I have a special label called Deadstock by Ruell and Ray in which I get my hands on denim that is not produced anymore, my next batch is 1 of 53 and it is a pretty special denim from Japan. The Ruell and Ray label, I try to use what is available and that is always a first priority, but in some cases you have to get a cool fabric where you can get it. (When I hit the market, deadstock is what I came out with, but came to realize that there isn’t that much laying around to have a lucrative brand built on using only those materials)
Q. What is the process of making a pair of Ruell & Ray denim, from design to final product?
A. It all starts with the fabric. I pick a fabric, make a sample, change details, make another sample and then produce. IT sounds pretty simple but there is a lot of coordination that goes on in between. While in production I make sure that I am at the factory as often as possible, my hands touch every single piece. I am the QC. (quality control)
Q. You have amazing style, what inspires you and your styles for Ruell & Ray?
A. I think menswear inspires my style quite a bit along with me just being me. I’ve always had different spins on how I put my outfits together-it mostly involves not much thinking, simply throwing on what I like. Just recently have I started to get my feet wet and be able to express my style through R&R. I think you will start to see more of my personal style come out in the upcoming seasons.
Q. What are some of the challenges and rewards of running your own business?
A. There are so many challenges but one that has been the biggest hurdle is getting my fit right. I look back at my very first production and how horrified I am at the cuts. But you live and learn and you correct. I am never satisfied and I am always making changes where needed. The reward is seeing my jeans on someone, that will never get old and always trumps the difficulties.
Q. You recently launched a site/brand with our friend Billy Moore of Cause & Effect. How did that collaboration come about and what do you guys have in store?
A. The collab started when Billy and I first met. We traveled all over together and shared our difficulties about being a small brand and just how to survive. We are doing what we love and trying to make a living off of it – Art and Survival. We wanted to spin off the Park and Bond shop that we did together, so we started our own site art-survival.com. Right now it is in the very beginning stages with our product available to buy direct, but we plan to have guest designers product up that we admire. So look forward to some cool funky things being added.
Q. Can you share a bit of what you have planned for Ruell & Ray for the coming years?
A. In the coming years, I have lots planned for R&R. I want to expand my men’s out to shirts, jackets, etc.-but very edited. I also plan to start my women’s line.
Q. Any advice for other women who are interested in working in the menswear industry?
A. My advice would be to keep barreling forward. I have hit so many stopping points, but I kept/keep going. If it is something you truly want to pursue, do it with your whole heart. The industry always keeps you in check.
I’m so excited to have my good friend Jessica Goldfond of The Shiny Squirrel on the blog today. Especially as part of my women series this month because she is one of the most intelligent, creative, and strong women I know. I met Jessica a few years back when I started my blog. We immediately liked each other’s taste and aesthetic based on our own blogs (her blog is amazing btw), but when we met in person, we became quick friends. Jessica owns her own PR company in Brooklyn, NY which has really blown up since I met her. The photo above is of jewelry from one of her clients The Boyscouts and the pictures below are from her past two incredible lookbooks. So without further ado, Jessica answers a few Q’s about how she built her business, how she finds all the amazing brands she represents, and what she has in store for the future.
Q. What is your background? Have you always worked in the fashion industry?
A. I went to school for Art History and had always imagined I would work in a museum or art gallery, but after interning at a gallery in college I realized I didn’t want to be involved in the industry like that. I have always really loved fashion but never imagined I would be in PR or involved in the fashion industry like I currently am.
Q. What prompted to create your own PR company/showroom?
A. I was working in a mind numbing fashion job that didn’t really allow me to be creative and the whole experience pushed me to explore other things I was interested in. I felt like I knew so many local designers that needed to take their business to the next level and because I had been blogging and involved in social media for a while I felt like I could help them. I always loved working on branding and discussing the overall vision of these designers and how to expand.
Q. What were some of the challenges you faced when you were getting started?
A. I started my business with no experience, no contacts and no money so I worked at my corporate job for a while and just reached out to people consistently for months. I knew that I could never leave my job until I was fully established within my company so I just did both at 100% which was time consuming but really paid off for me.
Q. You have an amazing roster of clients, what is the process of finding brands/individuals you want to work with and represent?
A. I think the process is really organic in finding people sometimes people reach out or I get recommended from clients or friends. There has also been times recently where I find someone I like and send them a little message. I definitely started looking for holes in my roster and have been going after certain designers that I feel are filling a void in my offering.
Q. You provide your clients with public relations, sales representation, event planning, and brand development assistance. Needless to say, you’re a busy woman! Can you give us a peek at what a typical day for you is?
A. I usually get up around 6:30 or 7:00 every morning and blog for about an hour or two then go have breakfast in the neighborhood and read or just enjoy some quiet time. I usually end up at my office because I just moved into my own space on Broadway and I work on Press Pulls or have meetings with clients. I try to go to the gym during the day as well if I can squeeze it in and then I meet up with my boyfriend for coffee when he gets out of work so we can both catch up with each about our days. I also tend to go to dinner or watch movies at home at night.
Q. What are some goals you have for The Shiny Squirrel or projects that you’re particularly looking forward to?
A. I think this year I am really trying to streamline the business and boost the editorial content for my own website which includes more look book collaborations and launching an interview portion of my site called Lunch Date. It is slowly but surely coming along. I am looking forward to potentially doing a Vegas Tradeshow in August and traveling a few times within the United States this year for both business and personal. I hope The Shiny Squirrel stays on the same path it has been for a while as we seem to be working on more press and bigger and better stores in the last year. My boyfriend and I are also launching our own Mens Jewelry line that is going ot come out in July called JW Atticus…I feel that I can come to this industry with experienced and fresh eyes because of what I do.
Q. As a successful businesswoman who owns her own business, do you have some sage advice for other women hoping to start their own companies in the fashion industry?
A. The only thing I can really say is things take a lot of time to manifest themselves and to not get discouraged if something doesn’t exactly go the way you had initially intended too. My career has definitely been a series of building blocks that has formed over time and it is the accumulation of my efforts which has made the business successful not the “one” big thing I thought was going to happen. Success is definitely waking up everyday and getting to forge my own path and this is sometimes not defined by money or material possessions.
I love hearing about new womenswear brands that are hitting the nail on the head. Tradlands is doing just that with a collection of womens shirting. Founders Sadie Beaudet and her fiance Jeremy Roberts founded Tradlands in 2012 so they could create a line of shirting for the woman who finds herself veering towards menswear pieces and wishing that it was made with her size in mind. The woman who wants a classic shirt that will take her from morning to night, and all year round, while maintaining its shape. No form-fitting stretch or “hourglass” tailoring in sight here. A relief to all women who seek a shirt that is flattering but allows for movement and getting stuff done.
The collection features button-ups and shirt jacket constructed of hardwearing fabrics like raw denim, fine cotton, and slubbed chambray. Details include durable brass snaps and side gussets. Each piece is handmade in San Francisco in limited runs of fabrics and trims sourced in the United States. Their rate of small production runs allows them to really zone in on what their customer is looking for, and to make it perfectly for her. In the pipeline, Sadie and Jeremy have a second run of shirts planned featuring lightweight denim and madras prints, along with a quilted vest, barn jacket, and henley. Also check out Lizzie Garrett Mettler’s post on the brand over at her blog Tomboy Style!
I’m so excited to have the amazing Katherine McMillan here on the blog today. I was introduced to the neckwear brand Pierrepont Hicks she runs with her husband Mac when I started the blog almost four years ago. Kat has been a role model for me ever since. Not only is she a talented businesswoman and have impeccable taste, she’s an incredibly kind woman. Her relatively new women’s brand Mrs. P. Hicks is a beacon of light in the women’s market for many of us menswear-inclined females. Many thanks to Kat for answering some questions about the brand, giving us a peek of what’s to come, and sharing some sage advice for aspiring businesswomen.
Q. You and your husband Mac run your own brand Pierrepont Hicks. What inspired you guys to design and create neckwear (and now a full menswear collection)?
A. I had a creative urge to make him some ties after a trip to Scotland. While there we went into all these little kilt shops and there would be piles and piles of colorful wool tartans… at that time those styles of neckwear were pretty difficult to find in most shops here in the states. After I made some samples, we decided to sell them online. I knew becoming a mother I wanted to also have a fulfilling job outside of motherhood and creating our brand felt like the right thing to do.
Q. What inspired you to branch into the women’s market with Mrs P. Hicks, specifically with women’s footwear?
A. Honestly, it’s not that exciting why I started the shoes… I made them for myself! I was lying in bed one night and thinking about what I was going to wear the next day to take my oldest daughter to school. It was going to be rainy and damp and I found myself wishing I had something comfortable and cozy but not frumpy. I have always been a huge fan of Clark’s Wallabees and the classic Desert Boot. I just found that most of the time, these styles were mucked up with frilly details that I did not want on my shoes so I would always buy the men’s styles just two sizes down. I had just met Kyle Rancourt of Maine’s Rancourt and Co. and we talked about my designing a few styles for women. Thankfully he said yes and they are now my main supplier.
Q. Who is the woman that inspires you and who you design your footwear collection for?
A. I am inspired by women who are confident and open. Women who stay on the periphery and like to be alone as much as they like to be with friends. I guess I am kind of like that. I love Lizzie Garrett Mettler of Tomboy Style and I carry her book with me often in case I need something inspiring to read while waiting for an appointment. I admire the style of Jenna Lyons, Milla Jovovich, Sienna Miller, Jane Birkin and Lauren Bacall. I can remember seeing a Seventeen magazine cover with Milla on it in 1988 and being inspired to try new things in my wardrobe. I was 14. She’s now an example of a mother who pulls off motherhood’s wardrobe necessities with style.
Q. What are some of your biggest challenges, and biggest accomplishments, to date with the brand?
A. Well it was challenging just getting it going. We did it all ourselves monetarily and we were having kids at the same time. Looking back I can’t believe I was in the hospital, breast-feeding my second daughter at 4am, and answering emails for work on my phone. It’s amusing. I would say the biggest accomplishment is creating something beyond neckwear now. I am so pleased with the outerwear.
Q. In what ways do you hope the brand will grow/develop in the next 5 years?
A. We have started to create items based on lifestyle. So Pierrepont Hicks is going to be the place you would buy your outerwear for a fall weekend in the country and your wool tie and sport coat for the dinner Saturday night. We’re skipping the shirts and just creating some key pieces for your wardrobe.
Q. As a fellow woman who is more menswear inclined, what are some brands that you rely on for your apparel and that “get” the no-frills aspect of womenswear?
A. That’s a toughy. Clare Vivier clutches are just right for my cocktail party needs – not too frilly. Chance is a wonderful brand I really love for comfortable style pieces. I am more than a little excited that Ruell and Ray is working on her first line of women’s denim and she’s been kind enough to make her men’s jeans in my size. One my favorite shops online is TOAST. I get lost in their website and catalogs all the time.
Q. Some sage advice as a successful businesswoman to other women who are hoping to start their own brand or company?
A. I would tell her to always ask the “stupid questions”. They’re actually not so stupid. Sometimes your fear of asking can be your only obstacle to a major opportunity. I would also say ALWAYS be having fun. If you don’t enjoy it – don’t do it.