The Spring/Summer season has been filled with commotion surrounding the array of fashion-related awards. Thanks to the Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards, the inaugural LVMH Prize, the H&M Design Award, the ANDAM Awards (which Iris Van Herpen won), and today's Woolmark Prize developments, we have had emerging designers firmly in mind here at TFL (as we commonly do). While the crop of designers chosen for the LVMH Prize and others was certainly impressive, we cannot help but focus quite a bit of our attention on the newest CFDA Incubator class. In particular, we are recently very taken with knitwear newcomers, Orley.
In business since 2012, the trio, consisting of two brothers and a fiancé (Matthew and Alex Orley, and Matthew’s fiancé Samantha Florence), have done an outstanding job of creating their own discernible visual style in a remarkably short period of time. While the fashionable powers that be have swapped trad and preppy for drapey and dark in recent years and it feels as though nearly everyone has followed suit, Orley has rejected both propositions. Instead, the label's design team has chosen to offer a selection of quirky but definitively modern sportswear, rendered in knits that opt for a background of muted earth tones rather than the usual shades of black, contrasted with the label’s distinctive, fearless embrace of color. Many of their offerings harken back to the ease of style seen in vintage photos of off-duty Rat Pack members, replete in ban-lon polos and slacks. The self-assured cool that radiates from those timeless images could be a direct ascendant to the vibe of today’s Orley man.
In its relatively brief history, Orley has already left its eye-catching stamp on the fashion industry through its marriage of modern, colorful knitwear and of-the-moment styling. What’s more, the collections have a decided earnestness about them, as the Orley man is clearly more comfortable embracing his own style predilections rather than succumbing to the whimsy of trends. The level of luxury found in Orley’s pieces is also readily noticeable, setting them apart from other newcomers, as well as more established labels based on quality alone. The supple leather detailing on the outerwear and accessories used in the brand's F/W 2014 collection, for instance, forces us to consider Orley more as a fully-fledged luxury brand in the making, rather than the young upstart label that it is.
So, as long as we’re talking about emerging designers to watch, we’ll be talking about Orley.