We're pretty keen on Alternative Apparel's sturdy basics, but it's always nice when a knitwear brand moves further into wovens and other markets--it means they're ready to impress the masses.
So it's no surprise that Mollie Culligan, AA's new(ish) accessories director, is pretty impressive herself. Culligan, the founder and designer of mid-market handbag line Jack Rabbit is giving Alternative's accessories section a decidedly '90s feel--think white-washed denim, fringe--to match the grunge-tinged knits and wovens.
We recently chatted with Mollie about where she's been, what she's up to, and what's next.
Fashionista: What did you do before Alternative Apparel? Mollie Gulligan: Before coming to Alternative last spring, I had founded an accessory line called the Jack Rabbit Collection. The line grew out of my living room and expanded into more than 300 retailers worldwide, including Harvey Nichols, Barneys and Neiman Marcus. The collection was a regular in InStyle, Lucky and Glamour with some great celeb clientele who also happen to love Alternative including Lucy Liu, Scarlett Johansson, Agyness Deyn, Drew Barrymore and others.
Alternative Apparel is, at its roots, a basics brand—how do you translate into accessories? I was inspired by our founder Greg Alterman’s love of custom-crafted, soft-washed fabrics which create a touch quality like you’ve owned the piece for years. For our first launch of bags, I translated this with triple drum-washed leather, artisan thick stitches and vintaged canvas. These pieces communicate our brand ethos of comfort, craftsmanship and authenticity. Expanding deeper into accessories like bags, scarves and hats is key as we continue to grow into a head-to-toe brand. Now our customers can finally complement their Alternative ensemble with just the right Alternative accessory. We love the denim bag you did--it has a very early '90s thing going on. Is that a trend you're looking to right now? What other trends are you excited about? Denim is a huge trend for spring 2011—it’s starting to pop up all over the place in shirts, skirts, vests, and jumpers. The Alternative over-washed denim Berkeley tote and Dylan duffel are launching strong in Tokyo. I love Japan’s forward taste for fashion. The bag line also draws inspiration from vintage cavalry. Our Scout series is very commando--featuring rugged weekenders, oversized totes, a sleek holster and small travel attire like wallets, phone cases and briefs.
If you're not wearing basics, what are some of your favorite labels? I’m a voracious vintage shopper; it’s like treasure hunting. I love to mix Alternative’s casual-cool pieces and chilled out silhouettes with a splash of vintage and a well-tailored Italian blazer. Name one place you'd like to visit in the next year. Home. I already travel too much. Otherwise we could throw in a little Morocco or Maldives into the mix. Or just a cabin in the woods with a bottle of whiskey, a good book, pancakes and crisp air. What's an ideal day off? See above. I have a thing for pancakes—which also makes me have a thing for the gym.
If you could pick one piece from your latest range of AA accessories to give to all of your friends, what would it be? The Woodsman oversized backpack in army green with cognac leather trim. It’s hip on a guy and sexy on a woman, and it’s cabin-ready.