Five Questions For Swaim and Christina Hutson
When Swaim Hutson launched Obedient Sons in 2002, he never anticipated that some of the most loyal fans of his new menswear line would turn out to be women. Together with wife Christina, Hutson made Obedient Sons into both a closet standby for well-dressed men, and a brand that inspires selective nicking by wives and girlfriends. It was only a matter of time before they began designing expressly for the latter: Daughters debuted for Fall 2008 with womenswear that hewed closely to the elegant so-old-fashioned-it’s-modern menswear aesthetic of Sons. All told, the Hutsons appear to be cornering the market on a highly refined look they describe as “romantic preppy.” Think young aristos in impeccable tailoring garden-partying behind a Brooklyn brownstone. This year, Obedient Sons and Daughters was tapped as a finalist for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award. The winner of the 2008 prize will be announced November 17; in the meantime, Swaim and Christina Hutson answer Style.com’s questions about life in the top ten.
What made you both want to be designers?
Swaim Hutson: Tennis. I don’t want to be egotistical or anything, but I was a pretty good junior player when I was growing up. Back then, I remember looking at Mats Wilander and Vitus Gerulaitis and just thinking, Man, they’re so cool. Mats in his washed-out jeans and T-shirt and leather jacket, all Swedish, and then Vitus, who was the total party guy. He could have been a better tennis player if he’d partied less, but he looked great.
Christina Hutson: For me, it was movies. I was raised in the country, so I never had any sense that fashion was an option. But I had a few favorite films, like Lolita and Heavenly Creatures, that I’d watch again and again. I feel like something about the ambiance of those movies got me here.
What was the scariest moment over the course of the CFDA/Vogue process?
SH: There was a period of a couple weeks, between submitting our application for the final round and actually hearing from the judges where panic definitely began to set in. You know, you start wondering—did we make it? Have other people heard?
The whole competition seems rather nerve-wracking. What did you do to relax and forget about it all for a moment?
SH: “Swaim Swizzlers.” Also known as Belvedere and soda.
CH: Well, it used to be wine, but I’m four months pregnant, so now it’s food.
What’s your up-and-coming designer’s take on the current economic crisis?
SH: People have been asking us about this a lot lately, and I haven’t been able to put my finger on any specific way it’s affecting us. Before all this credit stuff broke, we went through and weeded out some of our weaker vendors. So maybe having done that in advance means we aren’t crushed, now, by cancelled orders. And maybe, too, in a stronger market, the women’s line would be taking off faster. It’s going strong internationally, but domestic has been slow relative to the men’s. [It's] not bad, just a little slower than we’d like. In general, though, I feel like our customer has always been the type of person who puts some thought into what she buys. That may insulate us, too. I’m genuinely not worried; I’m an optimist, and I believe we’re at the low point in all this. So, you know, upward and onward.
If you do win the award, what’s the first thing you’re going to do with the prize money?
SH: Our nearish-term goal is to open a store, so we’d like to invest some of the money into refining the store concept, and so on. In the meantime, though—same old story: pay some bills.