Can good PR ever be a bad thing? Sure, especially when it sends your customers searching for your products, only to come away empty-handed.
That was the unusual situation faced by Petiole, the buzzy Manhattan fashion label that was dubbed “New York’s sexiest new line” by a major style website way back in October — four months before its launch.
The ensuing stir was gratifying but potentially very distracting for the small Petiole team that still had to bring its debut collection to market.
To their credit, the Petiole girls shrugged off the hype and focused on priorities. Young designers, take note: this is the right way to make an entrance.
Petiole is the vision of two young New Yorkers, designer Cori Olson and fashion publicist Melissa Leung — how’s that for a savvy combination of talents? — who met while working at Brian Reyes.
Their Spring 2011 collection of lingerie-inspired silk and mesh basics has a minimalist appeal that positively sighs easy, comfortable elegance. Think Jean Yu meets J. Crew, but more affordable. Yes, you can believe all the buzz about Petiole: this label has instant classic written all over it.
Still, Petiole is taking things slowly, determined to get the first collection right and focused on building a brand, not just a one-off collection (here’s where having an in-house publicist helps!).
Months before launching, Petiole started a fashion inspirations blog, Petiole Girl, which set out to build and help define its audience, as well as a growing Facebook fanbase and other social media buildup.
At the same time, Petiole lined up New York suppliers and manufacturers and — key to all young labels — some premium distribution points. Come February, you’ll find Petiole at Steven Alan, Elizabeth Charles and Life Curated in New York, as well as an online shop on the Petiole website.
Petiole (the name refers to the small stem that connects a leaf to a plant stalk) has done a lot of things right in its well-planned debut offering. Their bras, shorts, camis, rompers and light, breezy dresses all work well solo or in layers and hang beautifully, creating soft silhouettes. Both the color palette and semi-sheer look will appeal to the trendinistas, so you can be sure to see Petiole show up in a few spring fashion editorials.
But perhaps the smartest thing that Olson and Leung have accomplished is to create a signature style that is unmistakably theirs. Think about that the next time you overhear someone say, “Oooo, is that Petiole?”
Petiole calls its look “fashion as it’s lived and desired”. Yes, you can have it both ways.
Below are Cori and Melissa’s responses to our Bright Young Things questionnaire, followed by a gorgeous sampling of images from the debut line. Watch for Petiole in stores next month.
How long have you been in business?
Petiole launched for Spring/Summer 2011
How many people are employed by your label?
There are 3 main Petiole Girls + endless support from our friends and family. We have great factories we work with in the city, the most amazing graphic designer, a lovely fit model (Annaleise from Supreme), and wonderful sales representation from Indigo Showroom.
What plans do you have for new products/collections in 2011?
We’ll have our core basics updated for chilly weather (think Henleys) and introduce new silhouettes including a ‘silk robe’ that doubles as a wrap dress. There’s a utilitarian feel to Fall/Winter 2011 mixed with this 1950’s casual style. Petiole will continue to be 100% silk and made in New York.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in launching your label?
The biggest challenge was to go for it! But now that we have that under our belt we want to keep things simple by not growing too fast and making sure we establish our look and who we are.
What is your most popular design or product?
The ‘Blouson Dress’ (black dress below). It’s gorgeous on all shapes and sizes, and can be worn so many ways. The best part is that the cinched waist adjusts to what works best for your figure. Melissa is boy-shaped so she pulls it up to be empire; and Cori’s super-tall so she creates a more natural waist.
Business-wise, what are you most proud of?
Watching Petiole come to life organically – sticking to our vision, seeing it through and making it happen.
How will you define success for yourself?
Success for us means being able to do what we love while keeping a smile on our faces and a roof over our heads … and in NYC, which is no small feat!
Anything else people should know about you?
Petiole is fashion as it’s lived in and desired. A thoughtful, simplistic style that stands out with clarity and ease. Deceptively minimal, Petiole’s laissez-faire attitude will satisfy the craving for basics beyond what’s expected – in new classics made of 100% washed silk, reminiscent of lingerie of the past.