You won't find Eunyoung Song and Shuji Wada—the latest, hard-to-pronounce-their-names New York design duo—seeking inspiration at a museum or art house cinema. "We don't look at art or movies, we look at people on the street," explains the 27-year-old Korean-born Song. "That's how we kick up cool ideas." (Cool idea # 1: for spring, a basic white button-down thoughtfully tweaked with a trompe l'oeil bow.)
Indeed, Song and Wada, whose two-seasons-old label E.Y. Wada combines both their names, are very much about a certain kind of low-key edginess: Their customer may be strolling down Avenue A, but she's probably not your average girl next-door. Wada's ingenious tailoring is not only the label's primary point of difference, it's the life-force behind each piece's soft-spoken presence. Now 32, Wada fine-tuned his skills working as a patternmaker for Marc Jacobs, Richard Chai, and Zac Posen. Song and Wada met through mutual friends in 2001, shortly after both of them arrived to pursue fashion careers in the Big Apple. Boyfriend and girlfriend for six years now, they decided last year to launch a line that would make use of both of their skill-sets. Previously, Song worked in the coats division at DKNY, so she has a particular penchant for building outerwear. (Cool idea # 2: a modified funnel-neck cropped jacket in soft pink.)
In addition to their technical proficiency, Song and Wada bring a dedication to using luxury materials. Most of their fabrics are sourced from Italy and Paris, and they like to experiment with new treatments: linen woven with bamboo for spring, lamé houndstooth for fall. The new fall pieces are "darker" than the first collection, according to Song, who says they were going for a geek-chic aesthetic, which they channeled with baggy skirts and slightly too-heavy materials such as wool bouclé, velvet, and embroidered corduroy. Despite the off-kilter touches, there's plenty of subtle sex appeal and festive attire for popular party girls, including a gold-colored cocktail dress with raw-edging and a playfully tiered sparkly red skirt (cool ideas #3 and 4).
So far, E.Y. Wada, which is selling mostly in Japan, is still hard-to-find in the U.S., but that should change after the line makes it debut at Gen Art's Styles 2007 ready-to-wear competition in New York next month. In the meantime, Song and Wada will be pounding the pavement looking for inspiration for next season, though unfortunately not in the outer borough the two call home—Astoria. "Astoria is not very stylish," says Song. "There's not enough people on the street, so we're thinking about moving into Manhattan."
E.Y. Wada kicks up a softer way to get your edge on.