Years working in sales at luxury brands like Lanvin, Céline, and Burberry have made Baja East cofounders John Targon and Scott Studenberg smart about moving product, and they can talk for hours about what’s selling best, where, and to whom. (At Forty Five Ten in Dallas, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler recently purchased a floor-length piece, while Cameron Diaz went for a pair of boxing pants at Hirshleifers in Long Island.) But they’re also good about pushing their message, which is grounded in “loose luxury” that is “ambisexual.” Also known as well-made but laid-back clothes that are easily worn and shared between men and women.
For Spring, Targon and Studenberg wanted to further drive home their mission by staging a full-fledged runway show that illustrated how beautifully—and easily—the pieces could cross over. “We wanted to let the clothes speak for themselves,” Studenberg said backstage before the show. Ideas from previous seasons were brought forward, including the signature Baja top, in navy layered over a teal dress, and the hooded caftan, rendered in distressed white jersey. Cashmere-jacquard knit sweatpants, sweaters, cutoffs, and bra tops were done in bird and ikat patterns, and antique Balinese ceremonial skirts were reconstructed into long cape dresses and cloaks. The designers displayed cozy cashmere blankets and sweaters by tying them across the body. But the newness came in a cropped silk top—daring for the male customer in particular, but possible—and a broadened emphasis on suiting. A blackberry raw-edged silk blazer, T-shirt, and shorts offered the scenester an alternative to the tuxedo. (And the white version, done with full-length pants, worked well on both male and female models. “Effortless tailoring,” Targon called it.) Baja East may not be launching a revolution, but it is helping to fuel a conversation.