On a Thursday night last November, I found myself at a very packed, rowdy party spanning the entire restaurant level of the Chateau Marmont including a full-length red carpet at the entrance, a musical performance in the lobby and an open bar. It was not for a fancy movie premiere after-party or whatever other reasons people throw wild parties at the Chateau, but rather a launch event for a new brand that hadn't even released a collection yet. I was a little confused (mostly by the quantity of people in attendance for something they knew nothing about), but also intrigued by this grand display. Clearly this label wanted to make a splash — and presumably had the money to get itself off the ground.
Four months later, Land of Distraction is very much up and running. Its first collection dropped online in February and the brand held a well-received preview in New York during Fashion Week for its second collection, which will drop next month.
The line was conceived by Danita Short, a former nurse who spends most of her time on a farm in Canada, and is creatively directed by Christian Juul Nielsen, a New York-based Danish industry veteran whose career has included design stints at Christian Lacroix, Nina Ricci, Dior, Oscar de la Renta and J. Mendel. The clothes are primarily produced in Los Angeles, where both Short and Nielsen spend much of their time.
Despite having no fashion experience, Short had a concept for a fashion brand, and in her pursuit of making it a reality, she met people like Nielsen and a business partner from Canada who is helping fund the line (and that wild LA party presumably). They spent about a year and half making it happen.
The inspiration is basically Short herself: a motorcycle-riding badass from what I gather. "For me, from a design point of view, I built it around the personality Danita has," says Nielsen. After working for so many traditional luxury houses, he was looking for something different. "The thing that I thought was interesting was this sort of alternative approach to fashion," he says. "I was attracted to the idea of starting at an American brand in America, just to try something new."
He describes Short as "not into girlie, ultra feminine fashion" and "more of a tough girl." They see the brand as an antidote to the frilly labels out there; though it's not quite minimalist either: It's wearable and cool with a tough, '70s vibe. A pair of flared corduroys are currently a top seller; Short says she lives in them. "I think a lot of our stuff is really functional and not complicated and easy and I think that speaks to who I am in general," she says. "I grew up on a farm and I traveled and I think little bits of my life are in the collection."
Short says the collections will evolve from season to season but not too drastically. "Our DNA is getting quite clear for us internally; there are a few things we really love like corduroy and I think there are '70s shapes that will probably stay like the flared pants," she says.
These days, when a new brand launches it tends to be with some kind of clear, differentiating proposition whether it's a disruptive business model or a narrow focus on one product or a niche it plans to fill. With Land of Distraction, it's almost refreshing that the brand is really just about a vibe and an aesthetic. Whether that's enough to build longevity in today's crowded market remains to be seen, but the product looks strong. Plus, the brand has already picked up some yet-to-be-announced wholesale accounts, even sooner than Short and Nielsen expected.mApparently, sometimes a buzzy party is all you need to get started.
See the full Collection Two lookbook in the gallery below.