Band Of Outsiders & Other Mid-2000s Brands We'll Miss Forever

Photo: Courtesy of Band of Outsiders.
Yesterday, reports surfaced that L.A.-based clothing brand Band of Outsiders may be shuttering for good. An anonymous source told Fashionista that the brand "laid off the majority of its staff and canceled all fall wholesale orders," and that it won't produce a new collection due to lack of funds.

While this past year saw the closing of mass brands like Wet Seal and Delia's, today's news proves that things are tough in the higher-end contemporary market, too. If Band of Outsiders indeed shuts down, it'll be the latest in a line of beloved mid-aughts brands to do so. While Rodarte, Proenza Schouler, and Steven Alan thankfully live on, plenty of the other labels that dressed cool girls in the mid-2000s weren't so lucky. Ahead, we pay tribute to six labels we'll stan for forever — and hey, there's always the possibility of a revival.
1 of 6
Photo: Courtesy of Band of Outsiders.
Band of Outsiders
Unlike some labels, for whom doom is foretold in multiple WWD articles, BoO's financial difficulties come as a surprise. Launched as a menswear line by designer Scott Sternberg in 2004, the label expanded to womenswear in 2007, and gained a loyal following for its trim, '60s-inflected take on suiting and tomboyish staples — sort of like a less intense, lower priced Thom Browne.

Bolstering that was a clientele that included such indie-film darlings as Greta Gerwig, Jason Schwartzman, and Michelle Williams, all of whom modeled for the brand's lo-fi Polaroid lookbooks.

Despite new investment and a Tokyo expansion in 2013, it seems there aren't enough folks in the world who appreciate a perfectly cut blazer or a kooky faux-fur coat. Odds are the "Fin" sweatshirt, already a sellout, will now fetch a pretty penny on eBay.
2 of 6
Photographed by Gunnar Larson.
Jen Kao
This one was a real heartbreaker. Kao's theatrical runway shows and directional designs were always a highlight of New York Fashion Week, and her brand had a worldwide fanbase thanks to its availability at e-boutiques like Shopbop and M'oda Operandi.

But, in 2013, WWD reported that the designer was shutting down her line due to health reasons, laying off about 30 employees, and leaving her final collection for spring '14 unproduced. We shopped her final sample sale with heavy hearts.

No news from Jen since her leave of absence began, but we hope for her a return to full health — and, selfishly, a return to fashion, too.
3 of 6
Photo: Courtesy of Built By Wendy.
Built By Wendy
Any woman who had a Bust magazine subscription in the late '90s and early 2000s remembers the quarter-page ads for Wendy Mullins' colorful guitar straps with découpage cats and superheroes — a must for any indie girl (or wannabe). Mullins started her label in 1991, and built it into a destination for cute, A-line dresses, vintage-style jeans, and illustrated tees depicting '70s pop culture. Mullins brought her DIY ethos to her customers, writing a series of "Sew U" instructional books, and selling patterns in her Nolita store.

By 2012, though, rent increases meant that Mullins had to close her flagship store, and although there were rumors the brand would continue as a wholesale business, or a children's line, we haven't heard a peep from BBW in quite some time. In March, the brand's Facebook page advertised a "last chance FOREVER" sale on T-shirts.

Meanwhile, Mullins made a brief return to fashion in 2014 with a line of easy separates called Soft Rock, but the brand's wares are no longer available at its exclusive online retailer, Byco. Come back, Wendy — we '90s girls miss you!
4 of 6
Photo: Courtesy of Vena Cava.
Vena Cava
This NYC brand was launched in 2003 by Lisa Mayock and Sophie Buhai when the duo's designs were rejected from the senior show at Parsons (which has catapulted many a fashion label to success, including Proenza Schouler). Shut out from that career-making showcase, Mayock and Buhai showed their thesis collection during that September's Fashion Week, in Buhai's words "got addicted," and a cult-favorite label was born.

Despite a loyal fanbase of downtown cool girls, multiple Vogue/CFDA Fashion Fund Award nominations, and even the launch of diffusion line Viva Vena, the brand was on the brink of failure in 2011 after talks broke down with a potential investor. It eventually soldiered on with funding from investment group Li & Fung, but never quite righted the ship.

Vena Cava's old website is now defunct, its Facebook page inactive since 2013, and Buhai is starting her own jewelry and home decor line. But, its final collection for fall '13 stands as a testament to the label's appeal, not to mention its tendency to be just ahead of the curve — not many designers were doing mules and palazzo pants at the time.

RIP, Vena Cava; we shall never forget that you gave the world this perfect-forever deconstruction of insufferable fashion films.
5 of 6
Photo: Courtesy of Mayle.
After its opening in 1998, New Yorkers flocked to British-born model Jane Mayle's shop in Nolita for her feminine dresses and edgy-pretty jumpsuits. But, in August 2008, WWD announced that Mayle would not be renewing her lease when it expired the following January. We mourned the news, but took heart in Mayle's hinting around a possible future home goods or fragrance line.

Jane made good on her promise, returning briefly to store shelves in 2010 with a pop-up shop in collaboration with Sigerson Morrison, and in 2012 with a smart collection of bags for Club Monaco, which have become a permanent offering. No word on whether the brand plans to stage a bigger comeback, but these looks from the spring '09 collection, Mayle's last, still stand up.
6 of 6
Photo: Courtesy of Mooka Kinney.
Mooka Kinney
Rachel Antonoff met Alison Lewis when the latter rented a room in Antonoff's West Village apartment. From there, the pair's shared love of vintage shopping blossomed into a design partnership, and Mooka Kinney was launched in 2006. Specializing in printed cotton sundresses that ran the gamut from '40s bombshell to hippie chick, and, like Band of Outsiders, Mooka Kinney called in famous friends like ScarJo and Alia Shawkat to model.

The brand was a staple at shops along Bedford Avenue just before the tourists took over, but it was not long for this world. In 2008, the label disbanded, with Rachel Antonoff starting her eponymous line, and Lewis doing the same in 2009.