Buy this product here: Life Is Too Short To Drive Boring Cars Shirt, hoodie, tank top
Home page: Beutee Store
Life Is Too Short To Drive Boring Cars Shirt, hoodie, tank top
Backstory: “I’m obsessed with textures and different fabric weaves and processes — that’s what really draws me to fashion,” says Annie Novotny, a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. That interest in textiles eventually led her to launch an eco-friendly collection, Frei Designs. “I started to get more interested in the origins of things,” she explains. “What started out as just looking for organic fabrics has led me to this whole new direction. I’m doing fair trade now.” Novotny, who’s still based in Chicago, cut her teeth working at local retailer Robin Richman and with New York designer Gary Graham. In addition to designing for Frei, Novotny teaches an early college program for high school students at the SAIC.
Collection: “I was playing on the word fray, like fraying clothing,” says Novotny to explain the label’s unusual moniker. “At the end of the day, it’s just cloth. It’s not permanent.” That mind-set also helps explain the melancholy, slightly macabre undercurrent that pulses throughout her collection of gentle layered tops and dresses. Take, for instance, the inspiration behind her fall collection. Back in December, as part of an art-performance piece, Novotny staged her own funeral, complete with a casket-shaped piñata. Thus, the lineup is rife with Victorian mourning references. Even the artsy batik prints evoke an otherworldliness for her: “spirits or smoke or spiderwebs,” she says. But it’s not all doom and gloom: Novotny chooses to line her garments in silver silk.
Stats: The collection wholesales from $130 for a tunic top to $450 for a wool mourning coat. Pivot and Robin Richman in Chicago; Nomad in Cambridge, Mass., and Worthwhile in Charleston, S.C., have all picked up the line.
Alex & Eli
Backstory: Anna Zeman and Aja Singer are serious science buffs, making them an unlikely pair to start a fashion label. Zeman studied biochemistry at the University of Washington; Singer, anatomy and cell biology at McGill University in Montreal. But the creative arts beckoned, and both soon found their way to Parsons The New School for Design, graduating in 2008. After stints interning for Zac Posen and Carolina Herrera (Singer) and Rodarte and Chado Ralph Rucci (Zeman), they launched Alex & Eli, a suit-based line, this spring. Explains Singer of the name: “We ended up masculinizing our middle names. Mine is Alexandra, and Anna’s is Elizabeth.”