No Grand Statements Here, Just Beautiful, Wearable Clothes-------
When Kate Wendelborn launched Protagonist back in October, her mission was to create a collection of pared-down, refined tops that any woman could wear. The line of silk T-shirts; crisp button-ups; and cool, deconstructed turtlenecks has been exclusively available at The Line, which was cofounded by Wendelborn’s twin sister, Morgan, and Vanessa Traina Snow (who styled Protagonist’s latest lookbook). Beginning with Fall ’14, however, the brand will be available at retailers such as Barneys, The Webster, and Isetan in Tokyo.
“We really wanted to start small and be in control, then let things grow as organically as possible rather than pushing it right away,” Wendelborn said. Clearly, she’s on the fast track. It’s smart to offer timeless classics in a contemporary market saturated with trendy designers. Call it clean, call it minimalist, call it normcore, even, but above all else, Protagonist is chic.
This season, the label is expanding into a full ready-to-wear range with pants and skirts, as well as a ramped-up knitwear program. In addition to its signature shirting staples, highlights from the new collection included sleek bodysuits with extended sleeves, chunky cashmere crewneck sweaters, cigarette trousers, and flattering pencil skirts with zippered side slits that came in either distressed leather or spongy crepe. Elsewhere, Wendelborn introduced pattern for the first time. “I thought about what a print would be for someone who doesn’t like print. Usually I stick to neutrals because I want the clothes to be blank canvases that draw the focus to your eyes and lips,” she said.
Wendelborn aims to create versatile essentials for a variety of women. “I didn’t want to design for one hard character straight down the middle. One woman will wear that shirt one way, and another woman would do it completely differently. They are two different people and two different—gosh, this sounds so corny—protagonists,” she told Style.com. While everything appears to be elemental, Wendelborn goes through a complicated process to get to a simple point. There’s a deliberate intention behind the exaggerated, seven-inch cuffs on collared dress shirts, for example, or the sliced cutouts on turtlenecks that highlight the collarbone. “We’re not necessarily trying to make a grand statement. We’re just simply trying to say something,” she said.
Protagonist’s Collection No. 3 (from $270 to $1,400) will be available at Barneys New York, The Webster, Isetan, The Line, and more. For more information, visit Protagonist.com.