Dear Friends —
In keeping with our monthly theme of PAUSE, ASSESS, RESET, January brings the new year and a time to step back and reassess where we have been and where we want to go. During this symbolic time, we naturally open ourselves up to new ideas, new beginnings and new perspectives. Also, this time of year brings a shift of seasons on the fashion calendar. Just as we start to break in our favorite pair of winter boots, we start talking to you about kaftans and color!
I know you are thinking: Give me a break, Elaine. Spring has most definitely NOT sprung! With the frigid temperatures and shorter days, it always feels a bit odd talking to you about the new season, but bare with me here, people, it’s my job to keep you looking ahead! My hope is to open you up to a new beginning, maybe even possibly give you a new lens to peek through as we enter the new year.
As each year comes it inevitably brings the dreaded internal conflict of being not quite ready for Spring. Yet, as the Spring collection starts to hit stores it brings a much needed sense of optimism and excitement. Sometimes as the new seasons arrive, our initial inclination is to jump head first into the idea of changing the way we look externally, and as a result we hope our inner selves will benefit from it.
However, we must engage in looking inside before anything of value can happen on the outside. In my humble opinion, fashion is our own visual language with the outside world. It’s a vital form of self expression for many of us. In essence, it allows us to communicate our own uniqueness with the world — our different moods, inspirations and emotions.
My time spent designing and conceptualizing our spring 2017 collection was a practice in going inward before I could effectively manifest my outward vision. We usually start brainstorming new collections about ten months before they deliver in stores. As we sat down for our initial concept meeting in March of 2016 to discuss trends, inspiration and ideas, I realized I would need to go deep inside to find a new lens to see through. During this time, we were experiencing tough times both globally and domestically: there were frequent and sporadic terrorist attacks occurring all across across the globe, a looming election which was becoming more and more contentious by the day, and our local economy was taking a huge hit with dropping oil and gas prices. To say the least, it felt a little doom and gloom.
My design team began showing me the key trends and messages of the season and as I flipped through the beautiful document they created, I began to feel something that I hadn’t in years. On one hand, I felt a deep sense of nostalgia for the past while also experiencing an overwhelming sense of hope and optimism for the future. As I flipped through each page, I was seeing vivid, saturated jewel tone hues, dramatic raffia weave and rattan textures, modern tropical undertones, unexpected material combinations and organic, one of a kind ornamentation.
I was smitten.
I was inspired.
I was emotional.
I got sort of quiet and just sat there staring at my team. They seemed puzzled. I said, “This wasn’t what I was expecting to see today. I haven’t been this inspired by a season in a long time. This document brings me back to my roots and why I do what I do.” I looked up and saw several young, beautiful smiles wash over their faces as they nodded in agreement. These positive emotions resulted in us going deeper into who we are as a brand and why we do what we do. I was fulfilled. It was what I like to call an “in the flow” moment. We were all in design heaven.
After the meeting, I realized it was time — time to dig deep. I needed to be courageous. I needed to follow my heart and go against what my practical, left brain was telling me to do. I needed to stay the course, not deviate from the norm of the recent fashion climate filled with seasonless product, practical designs and stores filled with neutral tones. As much as I enjoy these qualities, I knew it was time to color outside the lines, to play it a little less safe, to harken back to who we are as brand and capture the heart.
I got back to my desk and was on a natural high after our meeting. I was in a reflective mood. I began thinking about the long journey I have been on with my company — the ups, the downs, the successes, the mistakes, the growth, the evolution. It’s been a journey of learning and a clear reminder of the idea that “life is a journey, not a destination.” As I pondered my past, I began to flip through the document again. I briefly looked up at my computer screen and there it was. A breaking news headline that read, “Obama, Castro: Lift the Trade Embargo.” I knew right then and there that Havana, Cuba would be our seasonal inspiration.
There are the more obvious reasons for choosing Havana, like it being known for its stunning crystal clear, Caribbean beaches and rich, lush, tropical landscape, and as many of you know, these themes are at the heart of my brand history. (Watch the video below for some insight into my backstory and inspiration.)
Yet it was really for much deeper reasons that I chose it. In some ways, I see Havana as a metaphor for what I was experiencing. Havana was in the process of rediscovering itself and finding it’s new role in a modern world. Embarking on a vulnerable journey, attempting to preserve its rich history and traditions, while also becoming anew, reborn, and modernized. Just like Havana, we were thrust into embracing our past, our roots, or DNA, yet finding a new, modern version of ourselves. Our mission: to reignite the soul of our brand that is timely for today. I guess it’s all about walking confidently into the future without ever forgetting who you are.
Please enjoy a sneak peek from our Spring photo shoot and stay tuned for our Spring 2017 look book and trend guide.
We are honored to take this journey with you.
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Collage credits: Birds, pink & blue apparel shots courtesy Maggie Eyster.