Backstage Banter with Baja East
Baja East may be a young brand, but you wouldn’t know that from their newest collection. Scott Studenberg and John Targon sent out a slew of 40 looks down the runway, each luxe, lush, and enviable, and it didn’t help that the runway was made up of an array of fuzzy white carpets, which just further reminded us how sleep deprived fashion week has made us. The beauty look fit the SS15 trend of fresh face and braids, which makes sense since Baja East is all about comfort: the footwear of choice was white Nikes and the fabrics used were silk, cotton, cashmere, and very light leather—swoon. Milk Made talked to the duo backstage to find out about the inspiration behind their collection and what the importance of ambisexual clothes is to them.
What was the inspiration?
Scott Studenberg: It was this idea of nomadic athletic, it was continuing our idea of loose luxury, but kind of taking that wander-less traveler through another journey, like the seaside to the desert to the streets.
I actually wrote down “sea → land” in my notes, so it’s very transferable.
SS: But then you gotta bring the city in there because it’s a mix of laid-back west coast cool with like city grit.
John Targon: That’s why we do a little more of the leathers and these kind of ponies in the east field.
Where do you envision the perfect place to wear this collection?
JT: Well, I think right here in New York, and then I think I also see it in Malibu and Cabo. I see it in London.
SS: It’s really not about the place but the person who’s buying the collection, and it’s that lifestyle where they are traveling all over the place, from their beach house in Malibu to a meeting in London and back to an art gallery opening in New York. So in having one suitcase you can pack our collection and style it up and share it with your boyfriend, too.
What is the importance of making clothes that are ambisex?
JT: It continues to go with our whole vibe. Like Scott said, it’s about confidence; it’s about wearing things that are comfortable. When you’re confident and things are comfortable that means all the lines are blurred.
SS: For women and for men, instead of a tailored suit or a bandage dress, it’s a new way to feel sexy. The fabric that you’re wearing feels amazing, so even if it’s not tightly fitted and sucking you in you can still feel good and you look good.
What was the inspiration behind the prints?
JT: Well, we actually source our prints. There was a whole group that were the antique Balinese blankets, so we actually source our prints from those, because they’re all one of a kind and people can’t buy them, so we get inspired by those to bring them so that more people can buy them. We do them in silks and cottons and our cashmere.
SS: In our first season, there was a group of looks that came out and they were all made from these antique Balinese ceremonial skirts. We take the ceremonial skirts apart and then we start transforming them. In our first season we did a sleeveless baja, but then this season we started doing capes and ponchos to the floor and draw-shorts with an industrial zipper.
JT: Boxing pants and tunics.
SS: So we went into the shapes we love and then started doing them with those one of a kind fabrics.
JT: And there’s this great “root” feel like…
SS & JT: Going back to the roots.
If you could dress anyone alive or dead who would it be?
SS: Well Miguel just came to our show and we fucking love him.
MM: So you’d dress him?
SS: Yeah. We will be.
So with the entire premise of having ambisex, is there a challenge in designing that way? Do you find it difficult to have to adapt to all body types?
JT: No, when we think about our guys or our girls somehow they’re inter-relatable. That same idea we were saying about? We think about our sisters, our girlfriends, and the friends who are in our lives and what they’re telling us they need too, so it doesn’t really create a problem.
SS: When we started the collection the reason we made it ambisex was because the things we were wearing our girlfriends wanted to wear, and that was the idea, because we were like “We don’t have to make it just men’s,” there’s no point, why can’t everyone just wear it? And when we start designing we don’t do anything super fitted. We do give a sports bra here and there or like a bikini top to a girl and we give a speedo to a guy sometimes, but besides that everything is super versatile and can go back and forth.
JT: Anyone can wear it. We purposefully did that more athletic touch to our clothes, like the elastic boxing pants or the drop-box shorts; things we know will work on anyone.