Designing LA-area fashion brands and labels that stay in the family – Los Angeles Times
Starting any sort of business can be an intimidating prospect. To be in the mercurial fashion trade? Even more so, which might explain why a number of successful Los Angeles-area fashion labels and businesses are run by family members, who conjoin their tastes, share the risk and divvy up the work duties.
âOur business is creative, which means emotional,â said Mitchel Primrose, co-founder with his sister, Carmen, of his eponymous handbag and accessory line. âHaving family together lends itself better to expressing and absorbing that emotion because itâs not always easy. [We] are able to help draw out what the other is thinking.â
Along with the Primroses, hereâs a look at five other local fashion businesses that are keeping it in the family.
Billy Hines and his younger brother, Christopher, agree their shared design outlook was shaped by the refined tastes of their mother.
âGrowing up around that was a huge influence on my personal style,â said Billy.
The siblings had a film-financing business before seguing into fashion. Together with friend Jack Hurley, they founded Arcady (www.arcady.com) in Los Angeles late last year. The name comes from a street close to the Hinesâ parentsâ Santa Barbara home. Itâs also a reference to the ancient Greek region of Arcadia, which translates to ârustic paradise.â âThe brand embodies that sensibility,â Chris said.
The collection encompasses easy luxury staples such as cashmere hoodies, crisp Mandarin collar shirts and suede vests, mostly in a neutral palette of steel gray, white and black.
âItâs about clean lines, material, construction, and design thatâs not fussy but focused on what the essence of the piece is,â Chris said.
The brothers have long been fans of brands such as Brunello Cucinelli and Loro Piana and wanted to create clothing of comparable quality but at a more modest price point. (The Arcady line generally runs from $65 to $2,400.) Chris said the collection is targeted to the 25- to 45-year-old âwho can afford the shirts but would need some coin in their pocket for the other pieces.â
âWe werenât finding a good American brand that was classic but not stuck in the past,â said Billy. âThatâs the niche that this fills.â
Brothers Josh and Brandon Brubaker spent a combined three decades at footwear giants such as Converse, Nike, Vans and Supra. In 2014, the siblings, who left their corporate careers, joined forces and launched Clear Weather (www.clearweatherbrand.com), a Costa Mesa-based, high-end sports shoe brand that has accumulated a bit of a cult following (for example, one limited-edition style sold out in less than 90 minutes).
What began with three styles has since grown to 32 across categories for men, women and the skateboarders, with prices ranging from $65 to $350.
The brothers say the out-of-the-gate success of the brand â itâs done collaborations with Barneys New York and Bloomingdaleâs â has to do with how it reworks classic sneakers.
âItâs hard to get people out of the shoes theyâve been wearing for years,â said Brandon, the older of the two. âItâs about clever, thought-out design that’s still wearable.â Top sellers include the Cloud Stryk, a distinctive cross trainer in suede and neoprene.
The brothers pitch in on all aspects of the business.
âWe share the same aesthetic,â said Josh. âWeâve told each other that we are brothers before business partners.â
Athletic Propulsion Labs
Twin brothers Ryan and Adam Goldston were surprised when their limited-edition kicks â fashioned from crocodile skin painted with a double layer of 24-karat gold and priced at $20,000 â found eager buyers.
âWe sold a fair number,â said Adam. âSome days, we sold numerous pairs.â
The APL Lusso Supreme made its debut last November in â no surprise â Dubai. But it is not what the Goldston brothers, co-founders of the nearly 9-year old Los Angeles-based Athletic Propulsion Labs (www.athleticpropulsionlabs.com), are most known for. Instead, consumers covet their chic, urban sneakers in quilted leather or blush pink running shoes made from metallic mesh that almost resembles handspun crochet. (Oprah Winfrey wore a pair of APL shoes on the January 2017 cover of O, the Oprah Magazine.) Prices range from $140 to $350 at retailers that include Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys and Net-a-Porter.com.
âThe core principle that we live by is we donât use big emblazoned logos,â said Ryan. âWe let the technology tell the story.â
The brothers, who also sell menâs and womenâs athletic apparel, dreamed up APL together in their dorm room as part of a mentorship program and say they are aligned every step of the way.
âWe share a lot of everything,â said Adam. âRyan sees colors perfectly as they are meant to appear, and I’m focused on social media and product technology. The business is based on what our joint vision is.â
Paul Tacorian and his sister, Nadine Arzerounian, couldnât imagine doing anything other than jewelry, given that their grandfather was a jeweler in Romania and their father went into that business after immigrating to California from Armenia in the 1970s.
Today, Tacorian is chief executive of Glendale-based Tacori (www.tacori.com), his sister is COO, and their father, Haig Tacorian, is chairman. Its fashion-centric offerings (pale blue diamonds, stackable rings, collections inspired by a misty day in Sonoma) at a moderate price point are aimed toward stylish millennials.
âTastes have changed, people have a lot of distractions, and we want to make pieces that are beautiful and fashion-forward,â Paul said. Tacori pieces, which are available at independent boutiques around the Southland, start at around $500 â and while they can stretch to upward of $10,000, a substantial-looking engagement ring can be found for about $4,000.
Arzerounian, who inherited her fatherâs and grandfatherâs jewelry tastes, said that the upcoming Crescent Cove collection is âinspired by the curves of the California coastline.â
âIt has movement and is similar to waves crashing on the coast,â she said. âAnd a lot of inspiration is taken from dentelle lace, which is used in Romania. We take that lacy design and pair it with black diamonds for something very modern.â