June 11, 2014 New York
With their recently launched Baja East line, Scott Studenberg and John Targon are carving out a new niche in the market they've dubbed "loose luxury." As spontaneous guys with chronic wanderlust, the designers sought to fill a perceived void for elevated, laid-back staples to "pack, travel, and take anywhere—from city to sand, surf to street," they said at their first Resort presentation. What's particularly novel about the brand is its ambisexual approach to dressing that blurs gender lines. Targon explained, "We've spent a lot of time with women who wanted to borrow things we wore, and we thought, Why do we have to make it one way or the other?" Backstage, the male models peeled off their tribal tunics, leopard-pattern cashmere sweats, and casual cotton separates splashed with an allover "ikat graffiti" motif, then swapped them with the girls. Some looks fared better than others in the crossover. While versatile pieces such as raw-edged trenches, muscle tanks, and intarsia hoodies featuring a cool shark graphic would fit into most wardrobes, it takes a gutsy dude (and the right occasion) to pull off a full-length spotted sarong or skimpy bikini bottoms. Other highlights here included moto jackets cut from a French terry-bonded leather, as well as Baja East's take on modern eveningwear: a transparent silk linen wrap skirt paired with a refined T-shirt. "We'd love to see more effortlessness on the red carpet," said Studenberg. With an eye toward sales (the label is currently stocked by the likes of Barneys New York, Maxfield, and The Webster), the designers were smart to expand their variety of lifestyle items such as king-size throw blankets, beanies, and eye masks ideal for stashing in your carry-on bag.