Esby apparel founder Stephanie Beard left a decade-long career in New York City designing menswear to start her own women’s line, based in Austin, Texas, a couple of years ago. Utilizing only natural fabrics and production in Dallas, Texas, and New Orleans, La., Stephanie has created a line of high quality, flattering women’s wear with a menswear mentality.
We are thrilled to host the esby pop-up shop in The Sideroom at our Austin store for the summer. (The Sideroom has recently been a temporary home to our friends at Alabama Chanin and the installation BLUEPRINTS by Paramount and Third Man Records). Stephanie and her team have transformed the space into a summer oasis with a distinctive beach vibe, right in the middle of Texas. While preparing for the opening reception tomorrow night, she took some time to talk with the Journal about her craft.
The esby pop-up shop will be open July 2 through the end of August.
Journal: How did esby come about?
Stephanie Beard: I was a designer in New York City for about ten years, designing menswear for the majority of the time. I started my career at Tommy Hilfiger, moved to Levi’s for a brief stint, and then spent the majority of my time at Converse. Long story short, I wasn’t inspired by my work and wanted to get into womenswear because I was having a hard time finding womenswear that kind of had the same mentality that men have when they shop, where you’re looking for clothes you’re definitely going to wear for years. I wanted to offer something that would be high quality and last for several seasons, but still remain cool and relevant.
J: What do you mean when you talk about making womenswear with a menswear mentality?
SB: I think that fast fashion really rules womenswear while men tend to buy something they can wear for years. I noticed that when I’d go through my closet, I paid a little more attention to things I had a more emotional attachment with, and that I tended to wear the same things over and over again. It’s about the idea of having just a few pieces you can wear for a long time.
J: What inspires your aesthetics?
SB: A lot of nature and the colors here in Austin, all the natural habit here, the limestone and the succulents. We are just now beginning to play with a little bit of color but we’ve been very neutral until now and even the colors we’re playing with are very washed out. We want to stick with a palate that has longevity and nature is pretty constant. We never use synthetic fabrics, so naturally you’re getting that look through the cotton and linens and silks that we use anyway. I’m inspired by that and comfort but also by flattery. You’re not going to pick up that piece in your closet unless it makes you feel good and is comfortable and flattering.
J: What designers do you wear?
SB: I love Billy Reid. Billy Reid was a brand that even when I was a menswear designer in New York, and we’d go inspiration shopping, Billy Reid was always a favorite shop to pop into. I worked in the Flatiron district and we’d pop around and go eat at Peels, which I don’t think is even there anymore, and go check out Billy Reid and Rogan and a lot of the other great shops in that area. I loved looking at all the details and definitely felt that was missing in my world then, especially in womenswear. I love Isabel Marant and Save Khaki. RRL is another one that I’ve always been a huge fan of, just because of all the attention to detail and bringing back vintage looks and their use of indigo and really high quality fabrics.
J: Tell us about the visuals for the pop-up and the inspiration behind your spring-summer collection.
SB: Living in New York, I summered in Montauk for the last several years and I really fell in love with the beach, just Montauk as a town, and it has inspired the brand so much. Everyone celebrates summer in New York, you go to the beach, you go on vacation. Then I noticed when I moved to Austin, people tend to hideaway in the summertime and hibernate, because the rest of the year is so pretty. I wanted to bring the celebration of summer here, so we’re using a lot of natural straw and we’re using cover pipes and ropes to hang all the clothes in the space, and we have some huge canvas drop cloths that have been dyed in this sort of wave, ocean pattern, by a local artist here, his company is called Feeling Groovy. It feels really fresh in here. It kind of feels like you’re on a boat.
I’m going to sound really cheesy, but this literally a dream come true. That I’m able to partner with you guys, and that you guys are hosting us here for the summertime.