Style HQ: Inside Theory's Slick NYC Offices

When you come to that place in your life when you find yourself needing a really nice suit, leather jacket, or cashmere sweater, Theory's typically the first place you turn, and it seems like it's always been that way.
These days, the 16-year-old brand includes Theory women and men's, Theyskens' Theory (helmed by wunderkind Olivier Theyskens), Helmut Lang, among other smaller brands. Run by fashion godfather Andrew Rosen (who's personally invested in such booming brands, such as Proenza Schouler, Alice + Olivia, rag & bone), the company is situated across a few city blocks in NYC's Meatpacking District, where it designs, sells, promotes, and produces all its samples. It's a vertical business that you rarely see these days, and an all-in-the-family approach has led to massive commercial and industry success...made all the more obvious by our tour of its insane HQ. Poke around with us to find out what — and who — makes this company such a powerhouse
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Tina Bhojwani — SVP of international business / Theory

How long have you been at Theory? What's been your trajectory within the brand? Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring boss ladies?
"[I'm] going on 12 years. At the time I joined, Theory was in two countries: Japan and the U.S. I (along with a great team) have focused on building out the brand's global footprint. We now have a presence in many cities worldwide, but we still have  much work to do."

"In terms of work advice for women, I would say do not aspire to be a 'boss lady.' Aspire to be great at what you do. Hard work, discipline, passion, and dedication lead to success — the formula is the same for everyone. It certainly helps to work for a company you believe in and have mentors/bosses who inspire you."

Bhojwani wears a Theory jumpsuit and Céline shoes.
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What's your favorite in-office tradition?
"We take the celebration of special events like birthdays pretty seriously around here. It’s a really nice tradition, because although we have grown significantly over the years, we still maintain a small-company, family-type atmosphere."

You co-authored a book with Waris Ahluwalia and Mortimer Singer about India. What was it like publishing something of your own?
"To India With Love is a book to raise funds for the families of the victims of the 2008 terror attacks, which took place in Mumbai. We rallied influential people to share photos and anecdotes about India and complied them in a coffee-table book. The response has been incredible and the experience most rewarding."
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What's been your most gratifying career moment to date?
"There have been several, but a recent one would be the opening of our flagship store in Paris on Rue St. Honore next to Colette. A big moment for our brand."

We love those teas on your desk! Can you tell us a little bit about them?
"Prince Teas is a company my brother and I launched recently. These tins contain our first blend, which is a turmeric-infused sencha green tea — very tasty and health-beneficial, too. I drink it every day."
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What's your MO when it comes to dressing for the office?
"I try to achieve a balance between looking professional-chic yet being comfortable, as you never know what any day will bring. Working at Theory makes it easy, as the clothes are so simple, sleek, and elegant, yet totally versatile. Theory allows the customers to wear the clothes in their own personal way rather than the clothes wearing them."
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In case you forgot which company we were touring, here's a reminder!
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Take a look at boss man Andrew Rosen's corner office, with a view of the new Whitney construction.
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Racks of pant samples.
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Mona Sharf — director of communications / Theory, Theyskens’ Theory, and Helmut Lang

What's been your trajectory within the brand
"I started with the company in 2010 doing public relations for Theory & Helmut Lang. About a month later, Olivier came on board, and I began repping Theyskens’ Theory as well, starting with the first collection, which was unveiled in September 2010. Since then, I have taken on special events and some marketing initiatives in addition to PR."

That skate deck is so fun. How'd that come about?
"It was a deck Olivier designed for a story with Stop it Right Now’s Jayne Min for the September 2012 issue of Vogue. You can see the full story here!"

What's your MO when it comes to dressing for the office?
"Contemporary casual: That is the MO when it comes to dressing at the Theory and Helmut Lang offices. If you watch people walking in and out of our offices in the Meatpacking District all day long, I think you will find a large group of strong, modern, and sophisticated women all dressed to represent that. I find myself almost always wearing head to toe Theory, Theyskens’ Theory, and Helmut Lang, with the occasional rag & bone pieces mixed in."

Sharf is wearing head-to-toe Theory. Her bracelet is Louis Vuitton.
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What's your favorite in-office tradition?
"Snack-filled festivities for birthdays, engagements, weddings, babies, first days, last days, etc. You name it, and the Theory family and some Magnolia banana pudding get together to celebrate it"
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Hustling up steps between meetings.
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Juri Sasaki — women’s merchandising manager

How long have you been at Theory?
"Almost 12 years. I started as an assistant to the overseas production manager in Japan and relocated to NY for two years to be the liaison between Japan and the United States. I then went back to Japan to work on women’s merchandising, and came back to NY once again in 2012 to work with merchandising on a global level."

Whew! What's the biggest differences between Theory shoppers in Japan and in America?
"Japanese people are more focused on details, whereas Americans tend to buy into the overall feeling [of the clothes]."

Sasaki wears a Theory blouse and pants and Margiela shoes.
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What's your favorite in-office tradition?
"GLO! That is what we call the Global Line Opening, where international affiliates travel out to NYC to preview the newest collections. It is so exciting to see how far the company has come, especially when we have the teams from out of town visiting."

Your earring game is so spectacular. Can you tell me a little about how you came to get a full set in each ear?
"I insisted with my parents that I had to get my ears pierced when I was four. I had to promise that I would only get one set but I always had a vision of this row of earrings. After I left home to go to boarding school, I added one to two at a time hoping they wouldn’t notice, but of course they did. I figured out a way to push my childhood dream."
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A snakeskin-printed pump from Theory.
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The gals congregate on the steps.
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A peek at the showroom (currently set up for men's previews).
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Ben Stubbington — head of men’s design / Theory

What inspires you when it comes to creating Theory men's garments?  
"Making functional and versatile pieces that can be worn multiple ways. It’s about how you wear the clothes, not how they wear you. I take inspiration from art/film/music/the street, heroes, and villains."

What's your favorite in-office tradition?
"Our Chinese New Year party each year."

Stubbington wears a Theory shirt and pants and Vans shoes.
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What's been your most gratifying career moment to date?
"I guess it's moments; what is really important to me is that friends and family live in the clothes I have created over the years."

What's your MO when it comes to dressing for the office?
"Utilitarian black, neutral, and denim."
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A little peek at fall's menswear collection.
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Organizing fabric swatches in Theory's menswear department.
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Yes, those sweaters were just as incredible in person as they look right here.
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Got thread?
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Welcome to Theyskens' Theory!
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Saralyn Feinberg — account executive / Theyskens’ Theory

How long have you been at Theyskens?
"I'm proud to say that I have been here since the beginning! We launched TT just over three years ago."  

What's been your trajectory within the brand?
"I have always been a Theory girl. I started my career here on the retail side and when the opportunity to work with Olivier came up, I jumped at it. Working on both sides has equipped me with a complete understanding of who our customer is, how she shops, and what drives her decisions."

Feinberg wears a Theyskens' Theory tunic and pants. The print on them is inspired by the scaffolding outside the Theory offices. The shoes are Balenciaga and the jacket is Theyskens' Theory.
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What's been your most gratifying career moment to date?
"Having the opportunity to work so closely with fashion icons within our brand like Andrew and Olivier. I have learned so much — professionally and personally — from working with them. And then there are the major editors, store owners, buyers, and industry tastemakers who support the collection. These are people whose work I’ve studied and admired, so of course, I find it very rewarding to have the opportunity to work directly with them!"
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What's it like working with Olivier? He seems like he has such a fun energy to be around.   
"Olivier is a dream!  He is an incredible artist, has a singularly creative mind, and is just a wonderful person to be around. I find he really challenges my way of thinking and always brings out the best in me."
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A shot of the mood board for the upcoming spring collection.
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A sharp Theyskens' Theory blazer coat you know you want.
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A few fit mannequins in the sample room.
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Pattern-making.
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The all-black-everything Helmut Lang offices across the street are the yin to Theory's yang.
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Holly Liss — branding and social media manager / Helmut Lang

How long have you been at Helmut? What's been your trajectory within the brand?
"I’ve been with the brand for over four years. I started off in sales and carved out my social-media role while I was an assistant. The position didn’t exist at the company, and I saw it as a real opportunity to put Helmut Lang on the digital map. I launched all of our social-media channels and built our following from the ground up. As the main curator of Helmut Lang’s online voice, I started to take on more branding-focused roles in our e-commerce and retail space. Today, I manage all of Helmut Lang’s branding and social media."

What's your favorite in-office tradition?
"Fit Meetings. Every week, we get a size run of the newest arrivals that hit our stores, and all the girls get together in our VP of sales' office to try everything on. We chat about the fit, quality, gossip a little and then figure out what we all need to buy immediately. It’s like shopping in a big dressing room with all of your closest friends."

Liss is decked out in pre-fall Helmut Lang.
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What apps do you rely on to do your job?
"It’s a good mix of social and photography apps.
Social: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Soundcloud, Pinterest, PSDEPT, Vine, Foursquare, and Emoji J
Photography: Camera +, Aviary, PicFrame, KalediaCam, Color Effects, Polamatic, and Grungetastic"
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What's your MO when it comes to dressing for the office?
"A Helmut Lang leather motorcycle jacket or one of our signature black structured blazers."
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What are the three Instagrams people NEED to follow (besides @helmutlang, of course)?
"Can I do five?
@stopitrightnow: for snark and style
@immaculateinfat: for food porn
@hotpotato: for a French Bulldog fix
@shlohmo: for his strange/funny/ironic 'still life' posts
@hedi_slimane_diary: for beautiful black-and-white images"  
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