LA-based stylists Emily Current and Meritt Elliott have teamed up with Kate Spade NY to produce a six-piece capsule collection of handbags and leather goods titled "Westward." The collection, which will be available starting in August at Kate Spade shops and at select Bloomingdale's, comes out of an unlikely partnership. Current and Elliott, whose denim line Current/Elliott has a cult following, are known for their laid back LA vintage-y Western-inspired style. Kate Spade is precious and ladylike and well, they've got New York in their brand name. So how did this odd couple come together?
We chatted with Emily and Merritt to find out. Fashionista: A lot of folks would say your style is totally opposite from Kate Spade's-- you're LA, they're New York; you're laid back, they're preppy and ladylike etc., How did you come together to produce this collection? Emily: I think that was what was so exciting about this project. We have such strong branding and aesthetics and we loved how consistent and directional Kate Spade is. They loved our west coast/Americana/vintage influences. We were able to play off of each other.
Did you guys wear Kate Spade growing up? Emily: We were obsessed with the nylon bucket bags. I remember using one in college as my book bag. It's such an American brand that really resonated with us. Merritt: We've been fans of Kate Spade since our youth and we've always associated their iconic structured lady like bags with the Kate Spade look. We looked through their archives and wanted to keep the essence of bag but added more whimsical boyish rough and tumble elements. They're not as refined--more laid back. Emily: I can't reiterate enough how fun it was to go through Kate Spade's archives and re-proportion their shapes and put sequins on a giant duffel. What Deborah [Lloyd] is doing there is so incredible.
Tell me a bit more about the collection. Why is it called "Westward"? Emily: The idea behind the collection was going on a road trip from New York to LA. Merritt: The whole collection was travel and adventure inspired. We have the full gamut from a sequined duffel to the second work bag for your gym clothes and laptop to cross body satchels to clutches down to a passport holder. We also had our red carpet clients in mind [the duo style Emma Roberts and Mandy Moore].
This collection is really about you as Emily and Merritt the stylists--not Current/Elliott the denim designers. What do you make of the increased influence and prominence of stylists? Merritt: I think that brands are now being appreciated for having an outside perspective come in with a fresh eye. There's value to that. Emily: We love that stylists are being recognized more and more. That makes our hearts smile. That's really what we are. It's not a designer point of view, it's a stylist point of view. We see ourselves as stylists first and foremost. Our biggest love affair about working is creating different worlds like a director. Merritt: I think personal style has become celebrated so much and stylists are the face and voice of that. People gravitate towards great stylists and consumers have more confidence when a great stylist is involved because the product is thought-through and tweaked and personalized.
Any advice for aspiring stylists? Merritt: Have a point of view and have it all the time. It's about showing conviction whether people like it or not and maintaining a strong point of view.
What else made this project compelling to you? Merritt: My husband died almost two years ago from brain cancer and a large reason we did this was they made a large donation to the Phase One Foundation which supports cancer research and awareness.
Check out Emily and Merritt's "Westward" collection for Kate Spade. Prices range from $245 and $1,295 and will be available in Kate Spade shops, select Bloomingdale’s locations, and online at www.katespade.com.