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Q&A: Cuan Hanly

Kate Spade and her husband Andy launched their line of men’s bags, Jack Spade, in 1997. Now the brand known for its preppy-meets-hipster style offers a full clothing line. Kate and Andy sold the business to Fifth and Pacific Companies in 2010, and Irish-born designer Cuan Hanly, who has been with Jack Spade since 2008, took the reins as creative director. Having previously managed an eponymous line and held a similar role at Original Penguin, Hanly is leading Jack Spade as the company opens its first Southern storefront in Atlanta. 1170 Howell Mill Road, 404-815-1551, jackspade.com

Why did you decide your next location needed to be Atlanta? We are expanding our retail presence in the best shopping districts throughout the United States. Atlanta was an easy decision. We love the aesthetic of the Westside Provisions District; the area has a great masculine feel.

What about your style appeals to Atlanta? The Jack Spade customer is very similar throughout the world. It’s about him being interested in functionality, traditional craftsmanship, modern aesthetic, and a sense of humor.

Did you change anything about your store to appeal more to Atlantans? No, but we’re bringing the lending-library concept that we have in our other stores. Customers can borrow books, bring them back, or pass them on.

What are the most popular items you sell in the South? As this is our first freestanding store in the South, we still have to build up our history there. But based on our experience with our fantastic wholesale partners, I would say that bags is our biggest category. Having our own store will allow us to show a much broader selection, specifically our apparel collections.

What are your views on Southern fashion? A gentleman, not afraid of color and that little extra flair—so it’s a perfect match for the Jack Spade style.

You’re opening in the same district as other menswear powerhouses Billy Reid and Sid Mashburn. Do you feel this is helpful or hurtful to your business? We have great respect for both Sid and Billy, as they are such tremendous ambassadors for the U.S. menswear industry. I can only see it being helpful for the customer, having us all in one location.

This article originally appeared in our April 2013 issue.

Head to Toe: David Schweitzer

As manager of Gerber Group’s local hot spots Whiskey Park and Living Room, both located at the W Hotel in Midtown, thirty-year-old David Schweitzer makes it his mission to look sharp and professional. We asked the stylish Cabbagetown resident for his fashion advice.

Does your job require you to dress up daily? If so, what’s your favorite suit? We have more of a flexible style here. Favorite suits I own are an off-white Wright Fit Club Monaco and a black pinstripe Hugo Boss, but more often we mix and match.

Where do you like to shop in Atlanta? Club Monaco, J. Crew, Sid Mashburn, and G-Star Raw.

What are your top three style tips for men? 1. Explore a full range of colors. 2. Have staples in each category of clothing for every season. 3. Buy clothes that fit and take care of them.

How would you describe your personal style? I try to stay classic with a touch of defiance in every outfit.

What fashion trend did you follow in the past that you really wish you hadn’t? For six months, I was a mortgage broker who looked right out of the movie Boiler Room, and for a very short period of time I thought Tommy Bahama’s shirts were cool. Sorry.

What is one piece every man should invest in? A medium-weight charcoal gray suit. Dress it up or down, either black or brown. It will allow you to dress the “part” in a variety of ways.

What’s your favorite item for spring? Brightly patterned, colorful shirts. I recently bought a classic, super-versatile sports shirt in blue gingham from Sid Mashburn. I’ll roll the sleeves up and pair it with crisp trousers, a funky belt, and freshly polished shoes.

This article originally appeared in our March 2013 issue.

Is Felicia Barth-Aasen the Next Vera Wang?

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Like Vera Wang, Felicia Barth-Aasen went from being a nationally competitive ice-skater to creating her own fashion line. At age twenty-four, she looks like a veteran designer too—ensconced in a Dallas, Georgia, studio packed with clothing, a dress form, and sketches and wearing a simple all-black ensemble (another Wang similarity).

Raised in Acworth, Barth-Aasen moved to Lake Placid, New York, at sixteen to pursue figure skating, but she always had an eye for fashion. “I’ve been sketching for as long as I can remember, and I would design my skating competition outfits,” she says. “I loved that part of my life, but at eighteen I had to choose between joining Disney on Ice or going to college.” Barth-Aasen ultimately went to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. Focusing on women’s sportswear, she had Calvin Klein as her personal FIT mentor before graduating in 2011.

In early 2012, Barth-Aasen was accepted, out of a hundred other applicants, into L.A. Fashion Week and started creating her own line, Collective 26. “L.A. Fashion Week is all about showcasing independent designers, but you have to show that your designs are unique. [It was] a huge highlight and stepping stone into the industry,” she says.

Barth-Aasen’s style displays an upscale bohemian sensibility. Her first collection, titled “Submerged,” reflects a whimsical, clean, underwater aesthetic—fluid chiffon, worn leather, and hues of blue and gray in a thirty-piece line, which includes swimwear, knitwear, and jackets. The grouping garnered serious attention from Los Angeles media and bloggers. Now back in Dallas, Barth-Aasen has set up a basement studio and continues to design her contemporary line (retail ranges from $100 to $800) and court buyers from Atlanta, upstate New York, and Los Angeles. Under way is her fall-winter 2013 line: “I found a pair of antique welder glasses at a market. They’re inspiring me to make a more industrial line for the coming season.” collective26.com

This article originally appeared in our February 2013 issue.

Atlanta’s KP MacLane Is Polo Perfect

In early 2010 Jared and Katherine Petty MacLane set out to take the polo shirt, a standard of American fashion, and transform it with European luxury. Their company’s costly garments—with a sticker price of $155 for women and $175 for men—quickly caught the attention of Forbes.com and the Wall Street Journal, which broke down how much each polo costs to produce (for the record, it’s $29.57, which grows to $155 with standard industry markups).

“We wanted to create a classic piece that could go into any person’s wardrobe and have the longest shelf life,” says Jared. “We both owned a lot of polos from other brands, but that perfect polo wasn’t out there.”

The husband-and-wife team, both in their early thirties, met in 2004 while working in sales for Hermès in Beverly Hills, where they became well versed in the art of branding and what goes into manufacturing a high-end product. Married at Sea Island in 2009, they returned to Georgia in late 2011 to establish their offices in a city with easier access to their manufacturing facility in New York.

So what makes these polo shirts so much more expensive than well-known brands like Lacoste and Ralph Lauren? Fabrication and construction. The KP MacLane polo is made from a unique blend of French cotton, elastine, and modal, which helps the shirt drape gracefully and hold its color. “If you’re going to wear it often, it has to be the softest against your skin. And we found this combination creates the best feel,” says Katherine. The fabric is custom-dyed in France and then sent to Brooklyn for production. Shirts are shipped to Buckhead for distribution.

Though using traditional collars and plackets, the MacLanes updated each element. For example, Katherine says, “The placket on the women’s polo is lower to showcase jewelry without showing too much skin. Also, the collar isn’t ribbed and stiff.” In a niche built on prominent logos, the MacLanes opted not to display theirs. The goal is to be “ageless, not trendy,” says Katherine.

The brand is sold in luxury-resort markets like Nantucket and Bermuda, as well as online. All polos are shipped in linen laundry bags that are handmade in Vietnam. Right now the MacLanes sell only adult polos, but they have plans to launch new products later this year. Says Jared, “What we’re trying to do is revolutionize the classics, one piece at time.” kpmaclane.com

This article originally appeared in our January 2013 issue.

W.port

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Westport is not just another preppy Connecticut town. A longtime magnet for glitterati from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Paul Newman, it’s an artsy place heavily influenced by nearby New York City. So its style is classic and comfortable like other wealthy New England enclaves, but with artistic and fashionable flair. It’s a sensibility not unlike Atlanta’s, which is partly why native Georgian Emily Bean christened her new Roswell Road store, W.port, after the coastal town where she spent much of her childhood.

Born in Atlanta, twenty-nine-year-old Bean moved to Westport in fourth grade with stepmom Pat Mastandrea. She came back south to attend Ole Miss and has made Peachtree Hills her home for the last five years. Mastandrea still lives in the 200-year-old farmhouse where Bean grew up, but the duo collaborated on the new Buckhead boutique, which occupies the real estate between popular shops Pieces and Southern Traditions. Opening her own store was a natural progression for Bean, who has worked in retail—including Atlanta’s Intermix and Deka—since she was fifteen, in addition to logging multiple New York fashion internships.

“Last Christmas we sat at dinner, and I asked her what she wanted to do with her life, and she said she wanted to open a store,” says Mastandrea. “We clinked our glasses and got on roller skates to start this store.”

Fast-forward through an exhausting eight months of stripping drywall and hanging light fixtures themselves until W.port opened its doors in August 2012. “This store is a direct reflection of my personal style: relaxed, timeless, and multigenerational, with a touch of European sensibility.” says Bean. “The W.port customer wants to invest in classic basics like structured blazers, cashmere sweaters, and printed scarves they can wear year after year. There really isn’t anything trendy in here.” Beloved brands like Vince and Mother Denim are carried next to lesser-known lines such as Red’s Outfitters, DemyLee, and American Colors, which makes a versatile tunic that retails for $175 and has become the store’s most popular item. W.port also stocks a small inventory of vintage pieces from Mastandrea’s personal collection, like a 1940s Gucci dress and a rare Chanel handbag. The women plan to launch e-commerce by month’s end, as well as a private W.port label next year. 3232 Roswell Road, 404-565-1644, shopwport.com

This article originally appeared in our December 2012 issue.

Style Insider: Melanie Turner

Since launching her eponymous design firm three years ago, Melanie Turner has twice been ADAC’s Southeast Designer of the Year. We peeked inside the fashionista’s Buckhead closet. melanieturnerinteriors.com

What is the go-to item in your closet? It’s a white, long-sleeve, lace minidress from French Connection. Whether I’m hosting a dinner party or working, this dress is easy and comfortable, but still fashionable.

How would you describe your personal style? My dad was a businessman by day and a manager for rock bands at night, while my mother was an executive at Saks Fifth Avenue. My personal style is this fun mixture of both his earthy-hippie side and her posh elegance.

What is the one item you would encourage all women to purchase? Hunter rain boots. These really are the flip-flop of fall! I just got a new pair in black with brown trim (see above).

How did you design your closet? I treat my clothing and accessories more like art than just for wearing. There are some pieces that I’ll only wear once every few years, like my blush-colored Rickie Freeman for Teri Jon gown, that I keep out because they are beautiful, and they inspire me. I use necklace stands that look like trees to hang my jewelry.

How do you organize your clothes? I organize everything by occasion—evening, day, weekend—and then by color within each category. I use skinny velvet hangers because they take up less space. And I hang everything except undergarments and workout clothes.

This article originally appeared in our October 2012 issue.

Billy Reid

Designer Billy Reid, the epitome of sophisticated Southern style, opened his seventh national and first Atlanta store in Westside’s White Provision building this summer. Raised in Louisiana and currently residing in Florence, Alabama, Reid launched his line in 2004. Its casual silhouettes and warm color palettes reflect Reid’s native region, but luxury fabrics and fine detailing add cosmopolitan polish—providing, as the company website puts it, “a modern approach to American work wear and cultured Southern dandyism.” Collaborations with brands such as K-Swiss, Stetson, and J. Crew—as well as reviews by national media like Vogue and the New York Times—helped Reid become 2012’s Menswear Designer of the Year at his industry’s top awards. Recently Reid took a few moments to reflect on coming to Atlanta. 1170 Howell Mill Road, billyreid.com

Why did you pick Atlanta? It’s such an unbelievable city, and we have more customers in our database from Atlanta than any other city where we do not have a shop.

Why Westside? We try to focus on a neighborhood that feels like a place where we want to hang out, have neighbors, and become a member of that community. Westside has that.

What are your views on Southern fashion? I never think of designing with a Southern aesthetic. I am a Southerner, and it’s pretty hard to change that at this point. Fashion is global, and being yourself is the best approach.

What makes this location unique? We recovered some shiplap and used it as wall covering. It created a great texture, and we used touches of leather and backlighting to keep the space uncluttered. It’s our home there, and we want it to feel inviting.

Do you feel you have competition in Atlanta (e.g., Sid Mashburn)? Sid Mashburn’s reputation is top-notch in our industry, and I’m a big fan. I don’t see us as competition, but rather good neighbors.

This article originally appeared in our August 2012 issue.

Fab’rik

Dana Spinola was a pioneer in making boutique shopping affordable in Atlanta. In 2002 the then twenty-seven-year-old left a computer consulting career to turn her entrepreneurial spirit and passion for style into a business plan. She opened the first Fab’rik in a large, rustic space in Midtown, selling clothes for under $100—a revolutionary idea when frugal fashion meant Loehmann’s. “There was nothing like Fab’rik in Atlanta when I started. I had to go to over a dozen banks with this idea before I got a loan,” says Spinola. Now, with sixteen Fab’rik (pronounced fabric, though she doesn’t mind if you say fabrique) storefronts and franchises throughout the Southeast, the mother of three is celebrating her ten-year anniversary with a new private label.

This eighty-one-piece collection, designed by Spinola, reflects not only her personal “Calvin Klein meets Diane von Furstenberg” style but also what her customers want: versatile and flattering fashion that’s easy to wear. Launched in June, the line includes printed dresses, maxis, and flowy chiffon tops, all in line with the feminine, on-trend store inventory that also includes jewelry, shoes, and plenty of denim. As a bonus, each time an item is purchased, a dress is donated to Haiti.

Spinola has used her boutique as a philanthropic platform since 2009, when she and a friend created Free Fab’rik, an in-store event where women in need can “shop” from donated, gently used clothing without price tags and get dressed by volunteer stylists. This event, which attracts hundreds of donations and volunteers, is held multiple times each year at some of her locations. fabrikstyle.com; freefabrik.org

This article originally appeared in our July 2012 issue.

Bella Bag

Step inside Bella Bag’s Virginia-Highland offices and you’ll feel like Carrie Bradshaw discovering Manolo Blahnik Mary Janes in the Vogue accessories closet. This online retailer, which buys and sells authentic, pre-owned, limited edition, and vintage handbags and accessories, stocks more than 500 designs by big names such as Chanel, Chloé, Prada, and Louis Vuitton—Bella Bag’s biggest seller.

While studying theater at New York University, Bella Bag founder and New York native Cassandra Connors started selling her and her friends’ handbags, as well as thrift store finds, online to earn extra cash. “I had a mother and grandmother that are very fashion-forward, so from an early age it was ingrained in me to keep my shoes and bags in good condition: Keep the box, tags, and bags,” she says.

After a couple of years, Connors’s side project turned into a full-time business. She eventually put her theater career on hold and moved south. “Up until I was twenty-six, I was doing everything all by myself; all the photography, orders, etc. Since moving to Atlanta in 2010, I’ve found myself a fantastic team, but I still authenticate every bag that comes through the door,” says Connors. She developed a thirteen-point checklist to distinguish real bags from fakes. It includes checking measurements, designs, and details like the metallic qualities of hardware or fabric pattern continuity. Bella Bag typically sells handbags for between 30 percent and 70 percent off original retail, depending on quality and rarity, with the average price being $900. Ask Connors to pick her favorite bag in the collection and she swoons over a vintage Hermès Kelly black crocodile bag that retails on her site for $25,000. shopbellabag.com

This article originally appeared in our May 2012 issue.

Atlanta Bloggers Write in Style

Magazine editors and celebrities, make room for today’s new fashion authority: the blogger. Many successful cyber fashionistas have showcased trends from Los Angeles and New York. But the Atlanta area has its own stylish bloggers, who are right on the pulse of beauty and fashion.

Mattieologie
In 2011, news coverage—including a spot in Essence.com’s “Forty Fab Fashion Bloggers”—helped twenty-seven-year-old Mattie James catapult her hobby into a full-time career. She showcases her eclectic style through outfit posts (where she might take a scarf, for example, and style it with a dress) and YouTube product reviews. In August she started Atlanta Style Bloggers, organizing events, blog-building exercises, and newsletters for more than 150 members. mattieologie.com, atlantastylebloggers.com

JennySue Makeup
Beauty blogger Jennifer Duvall is a self-proclaimed “mommy with a makeup problem.” The mother of three launched JennySue Makeup in 2008 after working as a makeup artist for local brides. With more than 30,000 hits a month—mostly thirty-something women like herself—Duvall offers how-to-apply tutorials on everything from a bold red lip to winged black eyeliner. Her makeup bag is filled with a variety of sponsors, which send her products to test and review. jennysuemakeup.com

The Fashionista Next Door
Eboni Saint-Elie caught the blogging bug when she joined Twitter in 2008. She tried her hand at different blog topics—long-distance relationships, weight loss—but it wasn’t until she began the stylish and budget-conscious Fashionista Next Door that she found her niche. Popular features like Style Me Friday, in which readers can submit pictures of a styled look for Saint-Elie to re-create from her own closet, have helped the site draw upwards of 50,000 hits each month. fashionista-next-door.com

AsianCajuns
Previous “Best of Atlanta” winners for their AsianCajuns blog, twin sisters Catherine and Lauren Lee are now taking the site international. The duo have managed their lifestyle-and-fashion blog from Decatur since 2007, but when Lauren moved to Edinburgh with her husband in late 2011, the pair decided to showcase how fashion can translate across the pond. In addition to personal style posts, the twins highlight local boutiques, cafes, and events in their respective cities. asiancajuns.com

This article originally appeared in our April 2012 issue.

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