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On Our Radar: Aiko

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The sweatshirt enjoyed a new renaissance a few years back, when designers like Isabel Marant and Dries Van Noten rescued it from the bottom of the dresser drawer and sent the slubby staple marching down the runways. But they weren’t the only ones to revive the look. Inspired by her own favorite sweatshirt, Aiko designer Cynthia Mittweg built her entire label on tweaks and twists on the theme. After founding her line quietly in Spring 2010, Mittweg built up her presence in stores like Barneys Co-Op, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks, and Shopbop, all of which she counts among her stockists.

Like her inspiration, Norma Kamali, Mittweg focuses on affordable materials and casual chic. But she’s grown her line from a sweatshirt range into a full-scale contemporary collection, with knits, silks (newly introduced for Fall 2011), skins, fur, and more. (Not bad for a woman with no formal design training; Mittweg honed her chops designing her own pieces for the stage while fronting an experimental band, Ich Bin Aiko, the line’s namesake.) Sweatshirts still figure into the new Resort collection, but so do silk palazzo pants, sweaters knit with the names of vacations spots like St. Bart’s, ikat skirts, and pintucked sweaters. “I like to call her a beautiful mess—her house isn’t tidy,” the designer tells Style.com of the woman she has in mind. Her new model, social fixture Lily Kwong, may be more beautiful than messy, but the point stands.

Photo: Courtesy of Aiko

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