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.
Since launching their line nearly four years ago, Kris Brock and Laura Vassar, the husband-and-wife duo behind Brock Collection, have experienced their fair share of instant success. Their romantic vintage-style pieces that are infused with casual boyish charm have been worn by the type of girls any designer would hope to dress: Emma Stone, Alicia Vikander, Selena Gomez, and Laura Harrier. Oh, and last November, they received fashion’s biggest stamp of approval, winning the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award. Not bad for two relative newbies.
Brock Collection's high-end aesthetic, which is made in Newport Beach, California, is very much a reflection of the designers' personal passions: “I think we try to take an approach of making really romantic clothing, but for it to not feel too precious,” offers Brock, who trained as a tailor and met his future wife and business partner at Parsons School of Design when he asked her to be a fit model for his wares. “It’s about having beautiful clothes, but not being too afraid to wear them.” And are they gorgeous: cashmere sweaters are punctuated with the perfect bell sleeve, selvedge jeans curve to the body just so, and their floral-print dresses could carry any woman to veritably any occasion life throws her way.
That the clothes are so beautiful almost underscores their prices (denim starts at $450, while the perfect white blouse could run you $690; dresses for the fall season begin at $1,290), especially in an age when fast-fashion giants like Zara and H&M reign supreme. “When we started the brand, we had an idea and we had a goal and it was to create these wardrobe staples and pieces that our woman could dress in from day-to-night and she could mix them. Quality was important, craftsmanship was important, fabric was key, and our design process really dictated our space in the market,” explains Vassar. That some might say you could get these basic pieces like denim and blouses at the aforementioned retailers, Vassar says: “Denim is a wardrobe staple we really can’t live without, just like a white blouse, it’s one of those things that you really need in your wardrobe, and why shouldn’t that be super-special and well-made?”
Slow & Steady
That Brock Collection continues to stay focused on its ready-to-wear line-up (and not necessarily dabbling in other categories — shoes, bags, etc. — like many other younger designers) reinforces the duo's idea of measured growth. “It’s obvious that this industry is really tough, but every time we’re in a store and get to meet the women who are buying our clothes it encourages us to continue what we’re doing,” explains Brock. As for the pressures of the duo being both partners in labor and love, he has this to say: “We’re both 30 years old, we have a two-year-old, we have this business, and if life isn’t stressful at this point then you’re not dreaming big enough.”
But Brock and Vassar aren’t digging deep into of-the-moment nowness to build their business either. “We’re not designing towards trend, but trying to be a little more authentic,” he says. What’s helped guide them there is curated specialty boutiques like Charlotte’s Capitol and Dallas’s Forty Five Ten — at the former, high-waisted silk printed taffeta skirts are flying off the shelves. “It was important for us to pick wholesale partners that kind of match what we were trying to do. It helps a young luxury label understand the business a little more, to get in and meet the customers, to understand what they want and what’s selling and why,” he says. As for their woman, she's a trailblazer ushering them forward says Vassar, “She continues to change and evolve, and it continues to be a goal of ours to find her, no matter what she is doing."