Imagine a Baja hoodie, the ultimate in surfer slouch wear, done in the softest sand-colored suede; a baseball cap rendered in sleek snakeskin; or a pair of sweatpants made of the most cush cashmere, paired with a designer T-shirt emblazoned with the low-brow term, "drug rug."
"Loose luxe" is how New York-based designers Scott Studenberg and John Targon describe the look of Baja East, their new unisex label launching this season.
"When we were thinking about our product and our brand, we saw big potential in the men's department," Targon says. "But then women wanted to wear it too, throwing a Baja hoodie over skinny pants and heels."
The two met nearly a dozen years ago at a Tuesday night abs class at an Equinox gym. Studenberg was the women's sales director at Lanvin, while Targon was in the same role at Céline. Their experience developing and selling those lines was invaluable when it came to creating their own (which is priced from $395 to $2,895 and available at Maxfield in Los Angeles, A'Maree's in Newport Beach and http://www.net-a-porter.com).
"We used to do trunk shows at Barneys, and every woman — whether it was Courteney Cox or the head of Warner Bros. — came wearing sweats."
Another influence? Travel. The ikat patterns on reversible hoodies were inspired by vintage Balinese blankets scored at a design store in Malibu, and the shape of the luxe sweatshirts by hoodies picked up in Tulum, Mexico, and djellabas in Marrakech, Morocco.
But as relaxed as the look is, the designers point out that Baja East isn't just resort-wear.
"We're city boys," Targon says. "As much as we love to travel, it was about creating things you can wear not just on the beach, but also out to brunch with your friends."