Designer Spotlight: Baja East

Designer Spotlight: Baja East

In a new column for V, Mathias Rosenzweig highlights up and coming designers to know now. Here, New York City's Baja East that counts Lady Gaga as a fan.

In a new column for V, Mathias Rosenzweig highlights up and coming designers to know now. Here, New York City's Baja East that counts Lady Gaga as a fan.

Text: MATHIAS ROSENZWEIG

There was no way for John Targon and Scott Studenberg to know that this season’s show for Baja East, their streetwear-inspired luxury line, would fall on the hottest day of NYFW. Luckily for them, a great majority of the clothing looked perfect for sporting in sweltering heat, with models already done-up with dampened hair and easy-breezy silhouettes as they maneuvered through an outdoor car garage in downtown Manhattan.

Models dawned slouchy silk tops, often in shades of tan or white, paired with an array of bandanas and various other original prints, which the boys reinvent each season. Not to harp too much on the heat, but model after model seemed to appear as if a mirage, gliding across the cement floor where, not for nothing, the luxury pieces seemed oddly out-of-place. Overall, the line continues to show tremendous growth from season to season, with the designers keenly attuned to what’s going on in the world around them, from music to fabrics to gender politics. V  caught up with the duo just moments before the show.

 

#bajaeast #s17 #BEwithher 🇺🇸 @hillaryclinton

A photo posted by Baja East (@bajaeast) on

What’s different with this collection, and how has the line evolved?

This season, we played with a lot of things we never played with before. We played with men's tailoring fabrics. We did a lot of this in both very feminine styles as well as masculine to keep very true to our core. We also started playing with that idea of the Kurt Cobain fuzzy cardigan. Or we started playing with exotics in a new way. Like our slip dress was the most popular dress last season from Fall 2016, so we redid it in a python strip and then we also have this beautiful python jacket. We haven't played with snakes since our first season, and this is our twelfth collection. A lot of the vibe was this whole question of how can we bring grunge to this very luxe knit, or like a custom lace that we made in France, and just edge it all out. That's always our M.O. Just, how do we bring that grit? That's why we chose to show in a parking garage as well.

How do you approach gender with your designers?

We continued to build on these feminine ideas while not ignoring our core because all of these things can go back and forth between guys and girls. But we really honed into that and it's doing very well for us, and people are really embracing it. We're not the brand that does the fitted sexy gown, but we do a high slit and we love some legs. We love a cutout and we love a back. We have our own way of playing with that. We also did a lot of layering. There's this whole idea that we have so many prints because we design a whole slew of them each season. We have all this print and all these hand beadings, and we're really proud of all of it.

You guys tend to incorporate language into your designs. Is that the case this time around?

We have our "THRIVING" again this time. Our thing about Fashion Week is that we don't want it to just be like, oh there it was and now it's gone. We want to build people's wardrobes. We want to build on things that you feel you can wear all the time. Our friends are probably wearing [the “THRIVING” top] right now. We love it and people embrace it and it's something that's true to our DNA. We both actually have "THRIVING" tattoos.

A photo posted by Baja East (@bajaeast) on

Your brand is really tied to music—both in terms of your inspiration and who actually wears the clothes. How do you connect to music personally?

We're both obsessed with music in all sorts of ways. We have a lot of crossover. But music sets our mood, the mood for each collection and how we feel personally. You know, all of these things, so music is always important for us. Obviously, Gaga is a big one, we're obsessed with her. She also embodies this collection. She's our best client. We got introduced to her with Brandon Maxwell when he was styling her a couple of years ago. She loved the samples so much, so she asked to buy them from us and we let her buy a couple. And then we started just sending her boxes and boxes. So we fell in love with her. I think she fell in love with us. But she is our inspiration. She's amazing about embracing other artists.

 

A photo posted by Baja East (@bajaeast) on

What makes you feel the proudest of your work?  

I would say seeing our friends show up and support us again and again in so many ways. And it's also cool to see certain celebs in our clothes. And people that respect our work and, we love theirs. Getting that acknowledgement is pretty insane. And of course, we can't complain about a good review. We're competitive like that.

Click through Baja East's entire Spring 2017 collection below

SS17 BAJA EAST NEW YORK FASHION WEEK
Credits: Photos by Dan Lecca

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