At a time when fashion is in a state of flux, we're looking to the industry's next generation of influencers as a guiding light. This New York Fashion Week, Refinery29's Future of American Fashion series is highlighting the designers, brands, and retailers we're betting on big. The future starts here.
In fashion, there's a tricky balance for a designer to build a brand with longevity in mind, while also not growing too quickly. Loeffler Randall’s Jessie Randall seems to have this down pat. Since starting her label in 2005, Randall’s oh-so-now shoes, navy velvet mules, leopard calf slides, and metallic leather ankle boots, have landed on stylish smart women like Rashida Jones and Jessica Alba. When she eventually launched bags in 2012, they received the same A-list treatment. Since then, Randall has expanded to outerwear, designing cheetah-print fur baseball jackets and white shearling coats that round out the holes in her woman’s closet. But rather than “launching” full blown statements season after season, Loeffler Randall’s approach is more about honing in on Randall’s own sense of creativity.
“Everything that we do here is really driven out of things that I love,” she says. Using her own needs and interests as a compass, Randall says she dabbles in things that make her feel “joyful.” “Shoes [are] the core of what we do and we also have a handbag line,” she continues. “We have gotten into other categories in small ways, and we’re going to continue to do [so].” Her 2015 outerwear capsule, for instance, came about because it seemed like a natural extension of the Loeffler Randall world. “A coat really completes your whole outfit, it’s something that you get a lot of bang for your buck because you’re wearing it so much and it can really be a statement piece in your wardrobe,” she explains. That Randall was able to play up the line-up’s similar synergies — leather, for example — was only a plus.
A Direct Dialogue
A lot has changed in the nearly 13 years since Randall started her line, including how she connects with her customer. Though she does work with wholesale partners like Club Monaco, she has made it a point to focus on custom product and exclusive drops on her very own website to create an instant relationship with her woman. “I love being able to offer something to our customers directly that they can’t get anywhere else and it’s that direct connection with the girl as opposed to it coming through someone else’s audience that matters,” she says. As of now, 20% of the brand’s business comes through their site and they are experiencing double digit sales growth in both direct to consumer and wholesale channels.
This curated point of view extends to the details, too. Last holiday, Randall profiled three illustrators on their LR Stories blog and when thinking about the gift wrap that came with online orders, it was only natural that she asked them to collaborate. “I care about those little touches that make such a difference,” she says. “It’s a very natural extension.”
Her woman has also become more sophisticated as she shops, requesting more “seasonless” product from Randall, like her $350 Lulu mule. “She can take it on a beach vacation and wear it in the wintertime,” she says of its versatility (the designer happens to wear hers with Jessie Kamm pants). “The things that perform the best for us are these things that she can really wear anywhere.” And this "work smarter not harder" concept has lifted the business overall for Randall, who says, “I don’t want to jinx it because I’m super superstitious, it takes more effort to achieve growth these days, but for us it’s not dark times.”