When I was in New York, I had arranged to meet with designer Minan Wong so I could get a preview of her collection and interview her ahead of her NYFW show two days later. We were set to meet at the store she was stocked in, Flying Solo, located on New York’s fashionable Mulberry Street. I was originally just meant to cover Minan Wong, but ended up interviewing six designers at Flying Solo that day, with many more I could of interviewed, but ran out of time due to the hectic schedule of NYFW.
All I knew about the store where Wong was stocked was that it was filled with independent designers. What I didn’t know was that Elizabeth Solomeina, the owner of the store, was also a jewelry designer. She had wanted to open a store that had a community feel to it, that would stock not only independent designers but also have the entire store run by the designers themselves. They would help with sales, curating the store and when their customers came in, give them the full history of their brand, and show their customers with passion how each piece is made and the inspiration behind the collection. Almost like a gallery of fashion if you will, but one where each piece is available to buy and customers had the honor of meeting the designer themselves.
The store now houses over twenty designers but is always welcoming more. They are also opening up to menswear designers. It’s a store that isn’t just about sales, but about the community for the designers themselves, to lift each other up and find support in an otherwise cutthroat industry. With the right people, and the right mentality, the store just came together. However the designers can’t just be good at what they do, Solomeina tells me, there are plenty of talented people out there, they must also be willing to be a part of the tightknit and positive community that the store has created. The designers therefore go through a vetting process, if they pass muster, they’re in.
The test clearly works. As I headed into the store I was greeted by the bubbly and positive personality of Minan Wong (see my interview with her here). I was then later taken to the back of the store where each designer had his or her collection laid out. The designers were all sitting around a large table chatting together animatedly, and it almost felt like I had walked into someone’s home, but without feeling like an intruder. They all smiled and greeted me with warmth and excitement about their new venture, all so happy to be a part of this thriving and talented community.
The interview that introduced me to Flying Solo was with Minan Wong. The talented designer whose collection is all made in the New York Garment district is both stunning and sustainable. "It’s also really important to me to support local companies.” says Wong. (Click here for the full interview)
Minan wong's collection for SS17 was inspired by, "Nature, airiness of the cupro, cool drape of tencel dress, Rpet/Organic cotton mimicking a flower and botanical lace dress. Feminine and refined."
Wong's previous collection was more abstract and geometric, however the inspiration for this collection was borrowed from nature. Think botanicals and ferns, all revolving around a romantic fun and easy vibe whilst showing her truly skilled hand with her intricate use of lace that runs throughout the collection.
After interviewing Wong, I moved on to interview the Schedraui sister’s, Grace and Stephanie, about their beautiful handbag line. The sisters have the perfect partnership, Grace, more of the business role behind the company, Stephanie, the creative. With their sisterly love so apparent, you could literally feel the love their bags were made of. “All the bags are made with Italian leather, embossed with very soft texture.” Stephanie Schedraui tells me.
They started as a small brand but are growing by the day. The sisters were born in El Salvador and have a shared view of positivity that not only pours out of them but has spilled over into the DNA of their brand. “Our concept is gratitude. Every bag has a message inside, things such as, ‘Choose to Shine’, or 'Begin and End Your Day with Gratitude', says Stephanie as she shows me the inside of the luxurious bags where the quotes are embossed in gold.
I can see and feel the quality of the bags as the sisters run through the collection of clutches and handbags with me. All are extremely comfortable to wear, and with the height of luxury, the zippers are 14 carrot gold plated, and the clutches can be worn as either a clutch or small handbag across the body. The bags are a perfect size to fit in the largest of phones and enough room to fit that touch up makeup for the evening and a decent sized wallet.
The Shedraui sisters just moved to New York ten months ago, but have already more than found their feet. And if the quote inside their bags doesn’t put a smile on your face, the quality and beauty of the bags will simply speak for itself.
For more information on Schedraui Visit them online
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Daniel Silverstain is a former musician and record artist from Israel. He stumbled across his love for design whilst taking a trip to India. Interestingly it began with him practicing several different crafts including knitting, screen-printing, and jewelry making.
Beginning his career in Israel in 07’ Silverstain began his designing career in Israel where he served as the Visual Merchandise Director for the Israeli branch of the label KEDS.
Silverstain made a move to New York in 09’ in order complete his studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology. However his career soon excelled as he was selected to collaborate with the Danish-based fashion label Muuse, a group that works with upcoming young international designers to put their collections into production and sell them.
With an impressive resume, Silverstain has worked with the design teams of fashion brands including Calvin Klein Collection, 3.1 Philip Lim, and Elie Tahari.
Continuing his success, in 2013, Daniel was chosen by the CFDA “for his outstanding achievement in Womenswear Design”, and awarded a member of the CFDA+ and recognized for his outstanding achievement in Womenswear Design.
Silverstain was also selected to participate in the 20th Anniversary of GEN ART – Fresh Faces during New York Fashion Week, and awarded as the winner of the Incubator Award with Gen Art.
Daniel says, “I design to inspire to be bold, to be courageous, to standout, and to create a story of your own.”
Silverstain is inspired by modernism, creating innovative pieces that look to explorations of textiles and retro futurism.
With each collection Silverstain looks to create a collection that is filled with optimism and positivity when looking to our future, with an aesthetic that is both simplified in it’s shape, that flatters the body whilst giving his customer a sophisticated yet realistic and wearable look.
Silverstain’s current collection was inspired by the works of Mexican modernist architect, Luis Barragan. The collection draws from a play between functionality and serenity, depicting cubical shapes and structured silhouettes in bold contrasting colors.
NOT BY JENNY LAI
NOT is an experimental womenswear brand based in New York City. Playing with interesting silhouettes and colors, Lai offers her customers an opportunity to create a stage for their everyday living, with pieces that make a statement for everyday as well as on stage.
It's easier to understand the form of expression Lai creates with her clothes when you understand her background. Growing up playing music as well as dancing, and acting, Lai equates 'the adrenaline of performing on stage with the adrenaline of getting dressed'. Drawing her inspiration from the the physical processes of putting on clothing, Lai wants to create an experience for her customer with her limited availability, ready-to-wear collection as well as creating custom performance wear for artists.
For NOT’s SS17 collection, Lai says, "I was inspired by the ribbing borders that are traditionally used in sports jackets- subverting their usual function, placement, and recognizable pattern, to create elegant, unexpected, playful garments."
With her stunning use of draping, and original silhouettes, Lai is establishing herself as a unique and stunningly expressive brand.
Visit NOT online
224 Mulberry Street, NY, 10012
+1 646 598 1556