Laura Myers's two-year-old line is a bit of an anomaly in London. In a city known for designers who are heavy-handed with prints and bold colors, often prioritizing creativity over function, Myers is making relaxed, elegant, wearable clothes: "90's minimalism meets modern American sportswear," as she puts it. And she's doing it really well, and at a much friendlier price point than, say, The Row, to which Atea can easily be compared. A shirt, for example, costs around $150, while $650 will net you a beautifully tailored blazer.
Myers is building her customer base and stockists list slowly but surely. Today, the brand's goods can be found at Selfridges in London, Vanessa Traina's online store The Line, as well as Ateaoceanie.com. But Atea Oceanie first caught our eye on Kristen Stewart. In January, stylist Tara Swennen put Stewart in one of the brand's signature crisp button-downs and elevated white track pants for "The Today Show." Stewart looked insanely cool -- in a nonchalant, zero f--ks given kind of way -- and we had to know more.
"It was a really big day for us, seeing her bringing [the clothes] to life exactly how we imagined," Myers said in a phone interview from London. "She looked cool, relaxed and elegant."
Myers grew up in New Zealand and went to Brown University for her undergraduate degree, where she studied sociology. Following her graduation in 2002, she enrolled in summer school at Parsons and went on to work for a number of brands, including Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton, ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi and, most recently, for New Zealand womenswear designer Trelise Cooper.
In 2010, when she was finally ready to start her own line, Myers moved to London, where most of her family is located. There, she started experimenting to work out exactly what the brand's point of view would be. "When we first started putting our initial mood boards together, a lot of it was the French feeling Carolyn Bessette has. What would she be wearing if she was alive today?" Myers explains. "Relaxed, elegant, clean, understated, always looking fantastic. That’s the aesthetic. The proposition was really around an amazing collection of wardrobe essentials that you come back to again and again and can dress up and down." The line officially launched for fall 2013.
The brand does four collections per year and has become best known for its relaxed tailoring and effortless, menswear-inspired shirting. For fall 2015, which you can preview partly below, Myers went "a little more sensual and sophisticated then previous seasons." Silhouettes are closer to the body, though the brand's relaxed feel is still there. The collection has already been picked up by Barneys -- an important stamp of approval for a fledgling brand to get.
In terms of growth, Myers is focusing on expanding the brand's retail footprint in Europe and the U.S. "I think the brand message resonates really well [in the U.S.] and we’ve been really well-supported by press in the States." She has yet to show during fashion week, but isn't ruling that out for the future. "It’s important that we grow organically." She also works with a showroom in Los Angeles, hence the placements on celebrities like Stewart, Kate Hudson and hopefully many more to come.
Get a preview of the fall 2015 collection below.