It didn't take more than a few seconds after meeting designer Laura Myers for me to know I would love Atea. I met the modelesque designer at Soho House during her most recent New York City trip and she's a walking reflection of her brand's effortlessly luxurious, jet-setting aesthetic. A world traveler, her collection was conceived to, as she says, "move fluidly between seasons, occasions and time zones," and its high quality fabrications have elicited comparisons to The Row.
Here the designer speaks about how she offers The Row quality at a fraction of the price, how her background influenced her aesthetic and what's to come for Fall 2014.
theFashionSpot: Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how it influenced your brand's aesthetic?
Laura Myers: I grew up in New Zealand and then moved to the U.S. to attend Brown University. I worked in advertising and fashion in Auckland, NY and Paris before settling in London to focus on setting up Atea. Over the years I have traveled a lot between the remotest parts of the world (New Zealand and the islands of the South Pacific) and the city centers (NY, Paris, London) and I think this experience inspired my desire for a collection of simplicity and purity in which I could move fluidly between seasons, occasions and time zones.
tFS: At what point did you seriously start to think about starting your own label?
LM: I always new that my career would involve something that allowed me to express myself creatively, but the idea specifically for the collection became clear in the last few years, as I realized I was continually looking for pared down wardrobe essentials and couldn’t find anything with the right combination of contemporary price point and quality fabric. It became clear that there was a gap in the market between designer and high street for a collection of wardrobe DNA pieces combining beautiful fabrics with a pure minimal aesthetic.
tFS: Even if you felt strongly that there was a void, it must be daunting; what helped you overcome the fear to actually launch?
LM: Someone gave me a card that reads, "What would you do if you knew you would not fail," and for me, thinking about life in these terms makes the fear of failure seem less important than the regret I might have if I didn’t pursue something.
tFS: Can you tell us about the brand name?
LM: Atea means something distant and remote in Polynesian. I wanted a name that reflected my background growing up in New Zealand. The fusion of the relaxed elegance I aim to create with Atea is very much inspired by my heritage.
tFS: Can you elaborate a little bit on that aesthetic and your clientele?
LM: The aesthetic is relaxed elegance, it’s about purity and simplicity in a sensual way. The Atea woman is traveled and curious, assured and uncomplicated.
tFS: You're based in London, how does that influence your brand? Do you think that's a good place for fashion designers versus Paris, Milan or New York?
LM: One of the key strands of inspiration is the ease and fluidity of traveling between the edge and the center of the world. In that way I am always thinking about how pieces will feel here in London versus home in NZ.
tFS: Your pieces have been compared to The Row. How are you able to offer similar quality for less money? Can you tell us about how you came up with pricing?
LM: The price placement was an integral part of the concept for the brand. I knew from the outset where I wanted the collection to sit price-wise. As such, much time and thought has gone into fabric, design and manufacturing research to be able to achieve this.
tFS: Are all your designs meant to be seasonless closet staples?
LM: The core of the collection is focused on wardrobe essentials and as the brand is still in its early stages I will continue with this. Atea is very much about slowly iterating rather than rushing into new things. The brand is starting resonate with women and I want to continue to establish that rapport by being relied on for a certain kind of offering.
tFS: Can you tell us about Fall 2014?
LM: For fall, we have focused on refining our signature silhouettes in shirting and tailoring, retaining our cohesive color palette, but adding texture through boucle, washed silk, brushed cotton. Fall also will introduce outerwear and we have sourced and amazing bonded wool which creates a modern yet heritage feel.