Lafayette 148 Creative Director Emily Smith in her design studio at the Brooklyn Navy Yard
The idea of establishing a successful American luxury fashion brand is becoming increasingly more difficult to achieve. With the old guard going through timely transitions and new brands popping up left and right, the question remains as to what the future of America’s fashion landscape looks like and who will lead. Surprisingly, it seems the answer has been right in front of us all along—a brand that has been slowly yet steadily growing its operation and influence among some of the most high-profile professional women of today. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s Lafayette 148, and it’s swiftly changing the fashion climate.
What sets the brand apart is that it has successfully managed to become a vertically integrated company, a feat so rare that it’s nonexistent in American fashion, acting more closely to big-name European houses. While other U.S. brands must rely on third-party factories and partners, Lafayette handles everything in-house, allowing for total control of the product. “It is our defining competitive advantage,” says Liz Fraser, the newly appointed president. “This allows for us to have consistency of the fit and of the quality. We make everything for us. There is no one else who can compete with us in that respect.” What this creates is flexibility to give customers the best experience possible. Want the same style blouse you bought years ago? Lafayette can make it. Have special sizing needs? You’re covered from petite to plus.
Harlow coat, $598, mink collar, $698, Linear scarf, $298, and Claremont boot, $748, all by Lafayette 148 at Neiman Marcus, Ala Moana Center.
The women who run Lafayette also understand that, in order to succeed in today’s business environment, you must have a sense of compassion and responsibility for the people and regions that drive your success. “I think respect is a big part of what we do,” says Deirdre Quinn, co-founder and current CEO. “Because we have [respect] mutually with the people who make our goods, we have it with our customers.” It’s an earned respect the brand has gained from educating. Lafayette has successfully established a school to support migrant workers’ children in the region of China where it operates its fully sustainable factory, emphasizes working with companies that operate with eco-friendly practices, and partners with organizations to benefit its home community of New York.
From left: Kourt jacket, $1,298, cable sweater, $798, Winthrop pant, $698, mink crossbody bag, $398, and Sotto slipper, $498; Sondra coat, $2,498, Bernice moto jacket, $1,498, crew-neck sweater, $448, Clark jean, $348, and Ekkien bootie, $498; all by Lafayette 148 at Neiman Marcus, Ala Moana Center.
At the end of the day, though, Lafayette is a luxury clothing company and its chief success lies in knowing every aspect of its customer and carefully catering the business to ensure it enhances, not hinders, their lives. Whether it’s by only using the most luxurious materials or by creating chic, timeless fashion, Lafayette embodies to what a real lifestyle brand should aspire: creating wardrobe solutions for women so they can execute their day with ease. It’s no wonder the brand has found such success. Lafayette is an empire for women, by women. It’s as simple as that.
Photography by: Photos courtesy of brand