These are exciting days for Rachel Comey. Next week, Comey will open her first-ever store, on Crosby Street in Soho. And in recent seasons, she has carved out a niche for herself in new categories, such as swimwear and denim, while her chunky shoes have reached a level of popularity that probably makes it a misnomer to call them a "cult favorite." Rachel Comey doesn't fly entirely under-the-radar, but it's well past time to give the brand its due: Comey, the designer, has made a success of being genuinely independent, in fact and in spirit, and in so doing she's provided a model for other designers who would like to forge their own, idiosyncratic paths.
One quality of Comey's that those other designers should note is her keen understanding of her customer and her brand's place in the wider market for fashion. Comey launched denim a couple seasons ago now, and her offering gets better and better. This season, for instance, she debuted a really knockout pair of high-waist, wide-leg pants. They came in both an allover indigo dye and a stonewashed version that was raw-hemmed. As she explained at an appointment today, her strategy with the denim has been to stick to her niche of exploratory silhouettes and experimental washes. No skinny jeans for her. Likewise, this collection's painted prints, tropical florals, and linens dotted with cotton eyelash provided some eccentric flourish to accessible silhouettes. Comey knows that people look to her for a touch of the unexpected but nothing too overtly avant-garde or strange. And she's gotten frighteningly consistent at delivering precisely that. When women go to shop at Comey's store, they know—in broad strokes, anyway—exactly what they'll find.