J BRAND LAUNCH PRET-A-PORTER LINE
Think J Brand, think jeans, some of the most ass-flattering out there – so, when we heard they were showing on models for the first time this NYFW, we thought this would just be a story on the girls with the best buns in town (surely that’s how you cast a denim presentation, right?) But no, three seasons in, it’s the fledging ready-to-wear collection the brand really wants to push.
Posed in rows on raised pedestals in a white-walled Soho gallery space, models right off an Alex Wang catwalk (Wang’s stylist, Karl Templer, came on board last season when he styled J Brand’s $1M fall ’12 ad campaign, shot by Craig McDean) stood stock still as the press circled, snapping them like animals in a zoo. And the downtown location reflected the silhouette – form-fitting layers of silk, napa leather and fine cashmere borrowed from the likes of Wang and Helmut Lang, as did slouchy knits and sculpted blazers, the best example of which sat panels of calfskin against a shiny double-knit jersey.
“What you’re seeing here is our customer,” said company CEO Jeff Rudes, gesturing at his languid, pale-skinned girls, and revealing plans to grow the business globally this year. “It took us six years to move into ready-to-wear, because we wanted to wait until we felt we’d have the right customer response. That time is now.”
So this is what they think J Brand girl wants to wear with her jeans. In fact, “We always start with the jean, and work out from there,” explained designer Donald Oliver, previously of Vera Wang, Calvin Klein and The Gap. This season, that might mean a draped chunky knit, belted to create a perfect hourglass; a sheer tie-neck blouse with a super-long tie and teeny gold buttons; or a stand-out navy shearling boyfriend biker that had more than one editor drooling into her champagne. Boiled wool or leather track pants were another staple – in fact, Oliver noted “the ubiquity of leather for every occasion.”