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August 31 2014

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Proenza Schouler: Dynamic Duo

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Proenza Schouler designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez kicked off today’s WWD CEO Summit, participating in an engaging discussion moderated by Bridget Foley. (Karl Lagerfeld wrapped the summit this afternoon. Check back for more on that later.) The interview centered around a number of topics, namely their ascension as one of the most sought-after labels in fashion, as well as their surprisingly successful turn in the accessories business with the breakout of their PS 1 bag. “We didn’t want to put out a bag until we felt like we had something to say,” said McCollough. “It was the height of the It bag moment and at that time, all of the It bags were covered in buckles and hardware and logos, and we wanted to do the antithesis of that in a way, something more stripped down, incognito, easy-wearing. Something that could stand the test of time.”

The pair discussed the reasons behind their meteoric rise, one being that Barneys purchased every look from the collection they made in 2002 during their senior year at Parsons. “It was very much a mixture of timing and talent,” said McCollough. “It was a time when all of the different generations in fashion were shifting. The Calvin Kleins and the Donna Karans, they were the designers of these mega-established brands, and it opened up a gap where people were ready for some new blood in the game.” Foley recalled going up to their apartment to see that first collection before placing it on the cover of WWD. She offered an anecdote about getting off on the wrong floor and finding two men in bed.

The conversation also explored the concept of successful creative partnerships, and how these designers are able to combine their ideas and inspirations season after season. “No one ever works in a vacuum, and we’re no different,” said Hernandez. “When one of us wants black and the other wants white, we do gray.” They also spoke of the benefits of technology, both in terms of intricate patternmaking, and how the “randomness of the Internet” has served as a theme for their runway collections. “Twitter, Facebook, blogs—together all of these images create the feeling of contemporary culture,” said Hernandez. When asked if he ever tweets on behalf of the brand, he laughed. “I think you have to be in your twenties to do that.”

Photo: John Aquino

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