LONDON, United Kingdom — When BoF met Kim Trager and Lowell Delaney, designers of womenswear label Trager Delaney, for this month’s Spotlight, the duo were working out of a temporary studio in London’s Soho, having outgrown their original space, a converted Victorian-era hospital in Clerkenwell. “Our studio literally became too small for us in one season,” said Delaney.
Indeed, the pair’s elegantly refined silhouettes, made in sumptuous fabrics and punctuated by cheeky prints and sportswear influences, have attracted much attention as of late. And their debut collection for Spring/Summer 2013, fronted by friend and of-the-moment model Arizona Muse, was promptly snapped up by London boutiques Matches and Joseph.
The collection was inspired by a mishmash of pop culture throwbacks from the 1990s — skateboarder Tony Hawk, ‘bad boy’ basketballer Dennis Rodman and teen heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio. Not that you could tell by looking at the clothes, which are unabashedly luxe renditions of reliable wardrobe workhorses with cleverly useful features. Handsome silk shirts in powder pink and deep mossy green are slitted up the side, so the wearer can half-tuck the shirt into matching cropped trousers for an effortlessly chic look.
Indeed, utility and comfort are of paramount importance to the two. Their full-skirted flocked silk dresses “became one of our best-fitting pieces of all time,” Trager told BoF. “You don’t have to wear a bra because you’re pulled in at the back,” he explained, referring to the thick strap across the otherwise backless garment. Their flattering, streamlined silhouettes conceal playful details that require a second or even third look, such as the Hama bead embroidery on their jackets and playsuits, and the semi-circular pattern seen on the dresses and skirts that are chock-full of childhood favourites: “Free Willy, Jaws, kittens, bimbos, jet skis, and flowers,” he added. Elsewhere, sportswear influences are apparent in fleece jackets with pockets lined in buttery nappa leather — “we wanted to bring fleece back to luxury” — and Bermuda shorts, reworked in delicate crepe.
Cerebral Trager, originally from Denmark, and quippy English rose Delaney met as BA fashion students at London’s Central Saint Martins; the pair were immediately united by a shared aesthetic point of view and sense of humour. “We were put in knitwear against our will,” Delaney joked. “We were both kind of ‘rebels without causes,’” added Trager.
That rebellious streak continued after graduation; whilst some of their course mates continued their education, the two had other ideas. “We were both [accepted] onto the MA and about to fill out the form to sort out the logistics and we stopped and said, ‘Hang on, why don’t we just do our own thing now?’” recalled Delaney. “It was a hard decision because everyone around [us] and obviously ourselves, were like, ‘What are you doing?’”
Trager and Delaney — who, between the two of them had completed stints at Haider Ackermann, Céline and Sonia Rykiel — were drawn to the entrepreneurial challenge of starting from scratch. “Young companies are fun because everyone gets together and it’s a real team effort,” said Delaney. In six months, they had cobbled together a business plan and set to work.
The process can still feel like a “Triple Big Mac with special sauce everywhere and you just can’t eat it all but you have to plow on through,” said Delaney. “We’re very conscious about keeping these first two seasons quite small.”
This month’s Spotlight features a custom BoF logo showcasing the intricate craftsmanship of a standout hand-beaded white jacket from Trager and Delaney’s debut collection. “The Spring/Summer 13 collection was born from the nostalgia of our 90s childhood and Hama beads were part of it,” said Delaney. “This is synonymous with the ethos of the brand we want to create — luxury that is warm and relaxed.”
As for the future, the duo are considering showing across the pond. “Next season, we’ll hopefully do little bit more, maybe in America, not sure yet. We want to keep it London, for now, [and] keep building a strong base.”