Growing up in Hong Kong, earning her boutique wings in Los Angeles, and making her second home in New York, Jade Lai is one worldly woman, and it shows. In her beautiful, bicoastal shop — Creatures of Comfort — clothing, accessories, and home goods are all imbued with the sophistication and humor of the your most well-traveled friends — that is to say, go-with-anything printed trousers and well-fitting cozy knits rather than hemp cargos and bandannas.
Her own in-house line, also named Creatures of Comfort, is a distillation of Lai's style DNA — cozy, witty, cosmopolitan, and "a bit off" (in the best of ways), and her aesthetic is one that's completely in tune with the modern woman. We caught up with the style star outside her shop on NYC's Mulberry Street to talk travel, influences, and her four favorite outfits she's stocking right now.
Photographed by Mark Iantosca
Lai wears a Creatures of Comfort indigo blazer and silk shirt. Her skirt is from Comme des Garçons.
Your shop is named after one of our favorite idioms. Are you a creature of comfort? What style habits do you always find yourself repeating?
"I am absolutely a creature of comfort! No matter how beautiful something is and how much I want an item, my top criteria is that I need to know I can move and that I will feel comfortable in it. I tend to be attracted to beautifully made things that are also a bit unusual. When I am getting dressed, I always ask myself 'do I look too normal?' I tend to like my look to be a little 'off' and not too perfect."
A necklace from Morocco.
What's your most prized possession in your wardrobe?
"Hmmm...right now, it might be the shearling Céline coat I just got when I was just in Paris. It has the perfect shape, light and warm."
Rachel Comey shoes.
What's one cheap thrill you've scored recently?
"A caged cuff I got from a craft market in Mexico City and a pair of Southwestern Native American stud earrings."
What's your skin-care regimen like? What products do you swear by?
"I am pretty serious about my skin-care regimen. I always use toner, serum, and sunblock on top of the regular stuff, and never go to bed without washing my face. I swear by SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, and La Mer moisturizer. I also like to get a peel and facial regularly."
Lai channels her inner Carmen Sandiego in a Creatures of Comfort trench coat, LD Tuttle shoes, a vintage Bottega purse and Illesteva sunglasses.
Lai's white velvet top is from Creatures of Comfort.
What's one hard-to-pull-off trend you think more women should try out?
"Print on print, bright colors, Birkenstocks, and bedazzling."
Bless shorts, cage cuff from Mexico City, and a vintage turquoise ring.
What's one item in your shop that you can't manage to keep in stock because it keeps selling out?
"The colorful barrettes by HairAccessories from Berlin and LD Tuttle The Clash boots."
That scarf is actually a Comme des Garçons cardigan!
If you could play stylist to one celebrity, who would it be?
"Claire Boucher from Grimes."
A Comme des Garçons shirt and Suno pants.
What's your one vice?
"I am always working."
A snakeskin Céline bag.
Who's one up-and-coming designer you're really thrilled about?
"Anntian from Germany. They make crazy prints and beautiful silk tops and dresses that are also super wearable."
Have your parents influenced your style or the way you think about clothing?
"Both my parents definitely have very distinctive and almost 'signature' styles of their own. My dad has been wearing the same outfit of white linen button-up shirts, relaxed chambray pants, and suspenders with sneakers or driving shoes for the last 25 years. He looks stylish, cool, and relaxed. My mom has more of a quirky but refined style. She wears anything from Yohji to Jil Sander to plastic dinosaur jewelry. I learned to take risks with fashion, and that one usually looks good when you are confident and having fun, at least most of the time."
Lai's black shoes are by Robert Clergerie.
What's the best thing to eat in Hong Kong? The best thing to do?
"Best food: wonton noodles at Mak's or sushi at Sushi Sase, or at my dad's house for home-cooked Chinese dinner. Best way to spend the day: Rent a boat and get seafood from one of the small fisherman islands and head to a deserted beach."
Lai wears a coat, a shirt, and a skirt by Creatures of Comfort. Her shoes are by Nike.
What's the best thing to eat in L.A.? The best thing to do?
"Tacos: Guisados. Macrobiotic: Inanka. Best thing to do: a scrub at a Korean Spa and the hollywood farmers' market.
We love Lai's Issey Miyake origami bag.
What's the best thing to eat in NY? The best thing to do?
"Cocoron soba. Best thing to do: Dia Beacon."
Your style, in three words:
"Fun, easy, cool."
Nikes too good to only wear to the gym.
If you weren't running one of our favorite stores, what would you be doing instead?
"A travel writer and a textile artist."