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Created exclusively for Urban Outfitters, the Designed By: collection is an ongoing series of collaborations with our favorite talent in the fields of fashion and design. Since its inception in 2008, Designed By: has given us the opportunity to work with independent designers at many different levels - from just starting out to those who have already established a name in their industry. From working together at every step of the design process from brainstorming to production, the relationships that we've built further our commitment to supporting new ideas in fashion.
Photographed by: Anouck Bertin
"I got into fashion at a young age. I used to do magazine layouts on my wall, make my own spreads. My mother had great taste, my grandmother had great taste, they both loved clothing so I think I took it from there. It's not necessarily that I love to dress up, but love the feeling of beautiful, interesting pieces." -Karin Bereson
Vintage collector Morgan Yakus and stylist Karin Bereson pooled their talents to open No. 6 Store in New York's Little Italy. No. 6 Store showcases a curated vintage collection, alongside carefully selected pieces from independent contemporary designers and Bereson and Yakus's own designs. 6x6 by No.6 expands on a vintage-inspired aesthetic with a diverse line of apparel and accessories. "There were certain pieces we couldn't go for in our own collection but could do for Urban," Bereson says. "We did a T-shirt with a sequin tie that's one of my favorite pieces and also jackets we did made of beautiful embroidered metallic fabric. Being small designers, we don't really have access to some of the fabrics and techniques, but it helps to have someone like Urban that can help bring it to fruition."
"The Urban line was totally inspired by the whole idea of the bohemian rock goddesses of the '70s, a Stevie Nicks inspiration. It's ethnic and tribal but at the same time it has a rocker edge to it. We used things like snakeskin patterns, stones, different geometric carvings-it all sort of mixes together to make this traveled bohemian rock goddess look.
A Peace Treaty's accessories are influenced by handcrafting cultures of the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe, an approach that mirrors the multi-national backgrounds of its founders, Dana Arbib and Farah Malik. Combined, they have lived in Israel, Pakistan, Canada, England, Spain, Italy, and finally, New York. "We wanted to call the collection A Peace Treaty because Farah's Muslim and I'm Jewish," Arbib says. "We saw it as a social and economical peace treaty, a Jew and Muslim are helping out these different people in different countries." They were similarly inspired for the name of their collaboration, Aleph. "In Hebrew and Arabic, Aleph is the first letter in those alphabets, so we wanted to point out different common grounds between these religions that are constantly fighting."
"We want it to mean something 20, 30 years from now. In 30 years, 20 years, you'll be able to wear it and say "That was made by Billy Kirk," so there's a continuity in age and everything." -Chris Bray
The Brothers Bray & Co. is a collaboration with BillyKirk, a line of handmade leather goods from brothers Chris and Kirk Bray. With The Brothers Bray & Co., they've expanded their classic styles into a line of men's accessories and a partnership with Sebago shoes. "The most interesting thing about working with Urban Outfitters and the Brothers Bray line is just being able to expand our ideas in a way," Kirk says. "Not to mention they've got a great name," Chris adds. "It's an audience that's younger, so when they check out The Brothers Bray line, they'll eventually figure out it's from BillyKirk and maybe one day, they can get some of that."
In 2005, designer Per Andersson launched Velour, a line of detail-driven basics, in Gothenburg, Sweden, a seaside city with a strong nautical history. Dubbing Velour's style 'feelgood preppy,' Andersson takes the same approach to Brilliant Colours, creating updated classics that exist outside the realm of trend. Whereas Velour's clothing is typically rendered in muted tones, Brilliant Colours is, as the name suggests, brighter. "I am very pleased to see that the design work we have done together with Urban through Brilliant Colours has worked out very well," Andersson says. "To offer design collaborations like this is overall very generating for smaller, independent designers."
An exclusive collaboration between Urban Outfitters and Los Angeles-based CORPUS designers Jerrod Cornish and Keith Richardson, byCORPUS retains the classic CORPUS style: edginess fused with prep sensibility, an understated elegance that favors a clean, bold design and simple-yet-unique touches that invite reflection. byCORPUS aims to harness the familiarity, stark visual presence, originality and integrity of the CORPUS collection, while offering a new take on their cult-classic designs.
"A good collection is one that tells a story, really connects to people, makes you think, inspires you and is made by great artisans with interesting materials."
Known for her artful custom prints and graceful silhouettes, Rachel Comey won a loyal following with her namesake clothing and shoe collections. Now, she takes the same playful approach with Contributor, her accessories collection for Urban Outfitters. "I was interested in collaborating with Urban Outfitters as a way to reach a wider, more varied audience," Comey says. "I see the Urban customer as a smart, interesting young woman with her own individual sense of style. It's where you go to find a fun item to put on tonight." Like many designers, Comey thinks about fashion even in her sleep. "There is actually a lot of fashion in my dreams," she says. "Like the other night when I dreamt that a friend of mine and I were in a granny suit shop when we uncovered some excellent inflatable dresses..."
"The most difficult thing about getting started is dipping your feet in and realizing that you can make anything you want. Most people fail by not even trying."
San Francisco-based Farm Tactics is designer Kyle Ng's line of classic heritage menswear and bags made from repurposed materials. Ng recently created Field Study for Urban Outfitters. "Urban Outfitters has been very supportive and has let me experiment with designs and styles that I would usually not do for my own line," Ng says. "They really seem to believe in young talent and are willing to let the designer do what they do best without being controlling."
"If my clothes could talk, they would say 'Hi. Feminine, sexy women don't need to let it all hang out.'"
Fletcher by Lyell is the playful offspring of designer Emma Fletcher's Lyell collection. Adding a droll twist to classic elegance of vintage-inspired Lyell, Fletcher by Lyell incorporates brighter colors, bolder cuts and artful simplicity. "When a collection is perfectly tight and all connects like one big puzzle, and nothing goes outside your idea, that's when, in my opinion, it's good," Fletcher says. "Lots of different pieces come in to play to make the magic happen. It takes a lot of thought, a lot of patience."
Menswear label J.Press was founded in 1902 in New Haven, Connecticut, by Jacobi Press. With artfully tailored and distinguished designs, the elite clothier has been a long-time favorite among U.S. presidents, statesmen and scholars, and a mainstay of preppie style. By collaborating with Urban Outfitters, J.Press hoped to accomplish a "re-branding of real American traditional styling and fashion," says J.Press designer Mikito Takeshima. "The Urban Outfitters customer is an 'outsider' in a good sense. They appreciate and seek something different from others from a creative point of view. It was fun to visualize the polar opposite customer from J.Press, and to be able to come up with design and styling for them."
"The most difficult thing about getting started in the fashion industry is finding the right place to showcase your product and getting people to stop and take a look at what you have to offer- Urban discovered my jewelry when it was on display at the Melrose Trading Post in L.A."
Accessories designer Johnique Schackelford had an early introduction to fashion, reconstructing old clothing and jewelry on her own at just 12-years-old. Her line of headdresses and jewelry, The Desert Child, is a natural extension of her love of vintage: "I like to incorporate styles of early Native American and Afghan jewelry," she says. "The name itself derives from the free love and peace culture of the late '60s, the love child and the desert night sky."
"It's not about finding the things straight off the runway at Urban Outfitters, it's about finding well-curated fashion pieces that are fresh and new, sophisticated and fun that everyone should include into their wardrobes."
Childhood friends Christina Tang and Dasha Zhukova, Kova&T makes clothing that blends clean construction with provocative designs to create a sexy yet subtle contrast, and they apply that same instinct to KNT. "With our collaboration, we wanted to be able to have a little more fun with our clothes than we normally would," Tang says. "I think we've accomplished that with KNT. It's so playful."
"The name Lark & Wolff comes from this guy who used to work here's girlfriend, who was named Lark, and I thought it was a pretty name that could be used for a brand. But I thought it would be good to have something that was more unisex, and I was thinking about the counterpart to a lark, this pretty bird, so then a wolf. It's his and hers."
The Lark & Wolff brand was born of designer Steven Alan's desire to create a new line that embodied a youthful take on his artfully disheveled classics. Alan started out representing independent designers through his showroom, and from there expanded into his eponymous store and his own clothing line. "In the beginning we were really famous for our shirts, and we keep attacking different categories and when we do that, the goal is to view it in the same way: how to make it signature," he says. "If there's nothing we can do, we don't go there. We haven't done denim yet because we haven't thought of how we'll do it differently."
"I think a lot of people think a leather jacket is a tough piece, but I kind of like to throw that off with a flirty dress or something more girlie or feminine, so it doesn't feel costumey."
VEDA is primarily a line of leather jackets, and Lazerade by VEDA gave designer Lyndsey Butler the opportunity to design clothes to wear with them. "While designing jackets has been amazing, each season I have to take off another layer and come up with another idea within the framework. With Lazerade, I've been able to make real clothes and work outside the box." she says. "I can let loose and think about what I wear. I can't wear leather head-to-toe, so I can think about what I want to mix in there and bring out my favorite pieces and rework them and make them for Urban, and it's really exciting
"When I was a teenager, my style was very homemade. I didn't have much money, so I made do with whatever I had. My aunt gave me money to buy a sewing machine, so I made a lot of my outfits. I had this patchwork vest I made out of denim and I would wear crocheted skull-caps because it was 1990 and everyone else was! I was dressing like a hippie and wearing clogs."
For his eponymous jewelry collection, Chris Habana resurrects gothic iconography and filters it through a pop lens. "The difference between Chrishabana and MY ENEMY is that Chrishabana is more of a duo, where I play with light and dark and love and loss," Habana says. "MY ENEMY gets more dark than light. There's more aggression, more in your face, middle finger attitude." Many of Habana's designs are influenced by his '90s adolescence and gay and goth cultures. "Growing up in the '90s in San Francisco, I was influenced a lot by industrial music, the rave scene, but I always looked at it with an outsider's eyes, and I never thought I was entrenched in any of it," he says. "My interpretation of goth back in the day, and even up to now, is what a mall rat thinks goth is."
Yael Aflalo is the designer behind YAYA and LOVE YAYA, and with Nom de Plume for Urban Outfitters, Aflalo is able to indulge her fascination with prints. "Nom de Plume has edgier, sexier and cleaner lines," she explains. "I feel that clothing is a way a person represents themselves on the outside to people. You can tell a lot about a person by the way they dress-my clothes tend to be flirtatious, like a wink and maybe a hair flip."
"I had just finished reading Chasing Rainbows by Barry Friedman. It's such a great book-filled with hundreds of images of old camp and trade blankets. I scanned my favorite blankets from the book and started playing around with how the blankets would look chopped in half and then put back together again."
Pendleton has been a family-owned business for more than 140 years, weaving world-class woolens in Oregon, including their intricately patterned Native American-inspired blankets. For this collaboration, Alex Segreti, one of our textile designers, traveled to Pendleton Woolen Mills to research the archives and work with them on an exclusive heritage pattern. "It was really exciting to work on a project with a company whose history and textiles I have admired for so long," Segreti says. "I was able to work on the blanket, meet the awesome folks at Pendleton, and see the whole dyeing, spinning, and weaving process take place at the mill. It was the total experience and it was amazing!"
"If my clothes could talk they'd speak Danish; they would say only charming things."
In the last decade, Peter Jensen has carved out a reputation as a designer whose impeccably produced creations thread together mischievous humor and a celebratory approach to individuality. His collection PJ by Peter Jensen puts these attributes into play with prints, graphics and unexpected details—like a signature bunny. "Doing picture knits is like doing coloring-in. Fun times!" Jensen says. "I like the idea that my clothes are pieces you can mix into your wardrobe, I'm always surprised by how different the people who buy them are, I'm happy about that."
"I feel that clothing is a way a person represents themselves on the outside. You can tell a lot about a person by the way they dress and what they choose to put on, it speaks to their individuality or their conformity."
Yael Aflalo started The Reformation, a line of re-worked vintage, as a response to her dissatisfaction with the fashion industry grind. "I'd grown tired of the deadlines and all the stress involved with creating a collection," she says, "So what I wanted to do was use what was already there and eliminate waste, and there were so many beautiful, vintage garments and fabrics around that I could use." The Reformation's signature re-worked styles have earned a devoted following, and Aflalo translates this same aesthetic into Reformed. "Reformed has a vintage-inspired feminine look to it," she says. "I really don't think there's that much of a distinction between The Reformation customer and the Urban customer. They are one in the same." With Nom de Plume, Aflalo is able to indulge her fascination with prints. "Nom de Plume has edgier, sexier and cleaner lines," she explains. "My clothes tend to be flirtatious, like a wink and maybe a hair flip."
"We both have a love of old things-it's in our blood, our parents and grandparents always collected. Even when we first started dating, we would go to flea markets, going to estate sales and picking up stuff all the time." -Janet Morales
Founded in 2007 by husband and wife duo Janet Morales and Stu Eli, Three Potato Four offers a curated and curious assortment of antiques and eclectic goods, as well as vintage-inspired reproductions. Their 3-P4 collection was inspired by a few of their favorite vintage pieces, reinvented and repurposed. "The products we designed under our moniker 3-P4 hearken back to something utilitarian, like a general store or a factory, and we reimagined that for the home today," Eli says. "What stuck in our heads was 'manufactured for everyday use.'"
"I love the way Andy Warhol often compared department stores to art museums. I tend to think of Urban as a sort of gallery space and myself as an artist. My goal is to continue providing Urban with new work to adorn their ever-changing walls."
Based in Los Angeles, William Anzevino's Anzevino and Florence line is known for creating modern avant garde designs with a significant attention to detail. Anzevino is now bringing that aesthetic to his current project, the elegant Upson Downes. "My goal in fashion is to meet and collaborate with as many interesting people as possible," Anzevino says. "Working with Urban has helped open a wider audience for my work, which means I get to bump into more people around town wearing my clothes. That always makes me smile."
"Clothing is meant to be worn, it brings everything to life in a new way-to see drawings on paper come alive on beautiful girls brings it all together."
Ulla Johnson named her collection after her family nickname, Vasia. With Vasia, Johnson uses many of her Ulla Johnson designs as a starting point—for example, an Ulla Johnson dress reimagined as a Vasia romper. "I tend to go for silhouettes that are easy and comfortable, with beautiful movement, but that allow individualities of the wearer to come through," Johnson says. "I love clothes that are slouchy and I always put pockets into everything. These are pieces that can be worn hanging low, so they express the attitude of the wearer."
"Stay focused and tune out the naysayers. You have to be a bit naive with big dreams, and you also can't be afraid to fail. Some of the best advice I received early on was 'under promise, over deliver.'"
John Whitledge, the founder and creative director of Newport Beach label Trovata, created The Virgin Poets Society, a line that pays tribute to the adventurous spirit and non-conformity of the West Coast surf culture of the '50s, '60s and '70s. "I think it's really important to develop a personal style, one in which you look back at pictures of yourself a decade from now and you recognize the same signature style," Whitledge says. "It's easy to follow trends, but the most iconic individuals develop a style and embrace it over time. It's good to evolve, but it's important to develop a few defining characteristics that make you unique."
"I can think of the first dress I got at Urban Outfitters when it first opened on Broadway in Seattle-a cornflower blue baby doll dress I bought freshman year in high school."
Designer Lily Raskind's Sunshine & Shadow incorporates bold graphics and feminine silhouettes to create a line that's effortless and modern. For Yellow is Gold, Raskind encapsulates this in bright colors and lightweight silks for wearable looks that easily go from casual to dressy. "To me, the Urban Outfitters customer is young and creative; someone who likes to take a chance and have fun with their look," Raskind says. "I love seeing Yellow is Gold pieces shown in the catalogs and store windows, and it's exciting to think that there are people wearing the clothes all over the country."