Swedish fashion company H&M's upscale brand & Other Stories, which opened its first West Coast boutiques at South Coast Plaza and in Beverly Hills last fall, is continuing to build on its California narrative.
On Tuesday, the label will release a collaborative apparel and footwear collection with L.A.-based Toms Shoes — it's that brand's first foray into ready-to-wear. (This collaboration follows & Other Stories' previous partnerships with L.A. fashion labels Clare V. and Rodarte.)
Also of note, & Other Stories opened a third Southern California location — this one is at the Americana at Brand in Glendale — last week. And to keep the L.A. love flowing, & Other Stories had the official opening of its design atelier on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood last month — it joins studios in Paris and Stockholm — and the launch of the first L.A.-designed apparel line in stores and online at stories.com.
"The foundation of the brand is to create your own personal style," said & Other Stories' managing director Samuel Fernström. "So we started off with design ateliers in Paris and Stockholm. Parisian style was this romantic tomboy, who is very stylish but not perfect, while Stockholm design is more pragmatic and minimalistic, with muted colors and strong accents. So the customer could create almost any look.
"But there was one piece missing," Fernström continued. "L.A. is the opposite of Stockholm, where it is cold and dark. Here [the mood] is much lighter, and that is reflected in the collection. So it's like we now have the three primary colors in place."
That sentiment encompasses pieces such as a velvet bomber jacket with matching skirt, a denim shirt dress, cut-off jean shorts, lingerie-inspired camisole tops, easy-washed sweatshirts, sweaters and trousers with racer stripes, ruffled blouses and minidresses in metallics or lace.
"The California girl adds a new personality. We would describe her as flirtatious, free-spirited, sexy and confident," added Dakota Solt, a senior designer in the West Hollywood atelier who last worked for L.A. fashion brand Nasty Gal. "We focus on versatile clothes that could take you from Venice Beach to a night at the Chateau Marmont."
& Other Stories produces six annual collections, and about 30 people work in the L.A. atelier. Caity Knox, who learned the ropes of womenswear design at L.A.-based James Perse, heads up the team with Solt. There are 50 employees in Paris and 120 in Stockholm, and those design studios also produce accessories.
The forthcoming Toms and & Other Stories line (also available at select Toms stores and toms.com) consists of 10 footwear and 16 apparel styles with an easy, beachy vibe that top out at $145 for an embroidered jacket. Coordinating pieces combine to create a capsule getaway wardrobe. The sunshine orange string bikini matches a vibrantly striped caftan dress, while colorful tassels, embroidery and fringe enliven airy ivory peasant tops, drawstring shorts, tunic dresses as well as moccasin booties and the canvas alpargata shoes that Toms is known for.
"Toms is based in Venice Beach, so that sensibility is ingrained in our heritage," said Toms founder Blake Mycoskie about the laid-back inspiration behind the collaboration. "With & Other Stories, we're introducing the first opportunity for fans to wear Toms from head to toe, which is really exciting. It wasn't like we were looking for brands to create a ready-to-wear collection with. Rather, the partnership grew out of a shared vision and a similar design point of view. We both want to utilize the platforms we have to make a change in the world. So it was sort of a no-brainer for us to team up."
The collaboration also continues Toms' one-for-one model. For every pair of shoes sold, other shoes will be donated to someone in need. Additionally, every Toms and & Other Stories apparel item sold will help support one month of English-language classes for a disadvantaged young woman in India through the nonprofit Magic Bus Women's Scholarship Fund program.