Barbara Kramer, co-founder of the now 22-year-old trade show Designers & Agents, likened D&A to “a fine dining experience” to a class of visiting students from the Parsons School of Design during the Fall 2018 edition’s final day of its three-day run on Tuesday. She was, of course, referring to the show’s carefully selected and special “menu” of mostly smaller, boutique-driven brands whose individual “flavors” are not commonplace in a market that often caters to big mass labels.
With 225+ brands this season and again held in two separate but nearby locations in Chelsea, this latest edition of D&A again showed that Kramer and her team have their curation recipe down pat.
With its eclectic assortment from all over the world and often “boho boutique” vibe, D&A is probably not the best show to spy obvious seasonal trends. That said, individual treasures abounded. Here are our picks from the show:
Best Use of Certified Fabrics
Sandy Chagnaud’s line Happy Haus, which is based in both Paris and Berlin, is a shining example that directional design can be achieved by using environmentally certified textiles. The talented German native showed a bevy of beautiful products including a very cool and femine jumpsuit in orange loden wool and a denim jacket lined in the finest sheepskin, among many, many others.
Most Unique Bags
JP and Mattie, an LA-based line that is produced in Southeast Asia, creates eye-catching satchels from old blankets, leather moto jackets and other reclaimed materials. Its resort-like apparel offerings are also fantastic and hand-dyed and hand-embroidered and accessorized with jewelry that’s made in Bali.
Knit Beanie Beauties
Chunky knit beanies were all over the NY women’s shows this week and two very nice examples were on view at D&A. New York-based Mischa Lambert makes hand-knit hats in 38 different colors that employ real fur pompoms. And Italian line BSBEE had some great knit-hat variations in yak wool amongst its easy-going apparel creations in Italian cotton.
Speaking of Italian knitwear, 10-year-old Italian brand Of Hand Made showed many a cool jumper with great embroidery details.
Pendleton Woolen Mills, the historic US brand known for its blankets, has completely reimagined its womenswear for fall 2018. Catering to contemporary boutiques, the collection is called “The Secret Office” as it can be easily worn to work and then transition to a date night/more casual setting. Key pieces include plaid casual blazers and boot skirts in merino.
Best Elevated Athleisure Collection
San Francisco-based designer Sarah Liller has made her eponymous collection of subtly detailed basics for six years but this was only her second time showing at D&A. Using supersoft yet sturdy rayon that she sources from North Carolina, her collection can take customers from “desk to dinner.” The pieces retail in the $198 range.
Nicest Japanese-Inspired Collection
Another exhibitor from San Francisco, Umber and Ochre wowed with its quilted fabrics and cool printed linings that look like they were created in Japan (but are more than half the price of any upscale Japanese brand).
Best NewcomerLaunched last year and employing natural fabrics such as linen, It Is Well LA offers a lovely, easy-to-wear collection of mostly casual basics.