Meet the new Madewell

Sty_MadewellDesigner_24
Credit: Miles Dixon

Madewell’s new head of design, Somsack Sikhounmuong, is leading the charge to focus J.Crew’s sister brand into doing what it does best: chic staples for the downtown set. “The kind of things you remember your cool mom or your cool big brother wearing — varsity things, great sweatshirts, jeans, an army jacket — you’re going to find a lot of that stuff as a great base on which to build your wardrobe,” says the Thailand-born, Toronto-bred designer. We hit him up for some spring sneak peeks (his first collection for the brand) and those catalogue-worthy styling tips.

 

What do you think distinguishes the Madewell girl from every other girl?
There’s definitely an authenticity to the girl — she’s very sensory driven. I like to say that she loves her Kindle, but she also loves books, and the touch of books. She loves Spotify and iTunes, but she also loves vinyl. There’s also a curiosity to her. She just likes finding things. She loves blogs but she also loves hanging out with friends and family. She’s a fun, authentic, curious girl.

 

What are some classics every woman should have in her wardrobe?
A great pair of jeans. Even today, you can make a lot more outfits with a pair of skinny jeans, a T-shirt, a great army jacket, a great leather jacket and a great pair of boots.

 

What was the starting point for the spring line?
We wanted to give the Madwell girl the ultimate wardrobe. It’s almost like traveling and packing a bag. You start by putting in all the basics: a great pair of jeans, a great dress, etc. You then go on your trip, and when you come back, the suitcase is a mix of things you picked up, like ethnic things. We were looking at Japanese shibori — sort of a tie-dye technique — Ukrainian blouses and Mexican embroideries thrown in with all of your basics.

 

What are you most excited about for spring?
We’re doing a new denim. It’s this wash called an extraction wash, like a beautiful take on acid wash. It sort of sucks out all the colors to the palest ivories with touches of gray hints here and there. I didn’t want to say “acid wash” because of the negative connotations, but this is actually really special and interesting. And we have great embroideries and eyelets. We’ve taken the sweetness out of eyelets. We’re putting in easy, not-too-frilly silhouettes. The combo of the two — great denim with some really pretty, feminine pieces — is the most exciting thing.

 

Since spring is a ways off, what do you think women should live in for fall?
Neutrals. I always love it when there’s a combination of tones on tones, like a gray on dark gray, or cream with ivory is really beautiful. I think with all these crazy graphic prints we’ve seen over the last few seasons, [it’s nice to have] a palate-cleanser of these really soft, beautiful camels.

 

The girls in Madewell’s catalogues always look so hip. What are some of your favorite styling tips?
There’s a cool, downtown spin to what we do. It’s feminine with the masculine. [I love pairing] a leather jacket with a great dress. When you take the sweetness out of things, it just becomes a little more interesting. [I always think,] “How am I going to make this outfit not too sweet, but not too ‘boy’?” It’s about finding a really nice balance.

 

His style mantras

1. Neutrals are your friends.

2. You can never have enough men’s shirts — nothing is cooler than a girl in her boyfriend’s shirt.

3. Own a vintage pair of jeans — the history behind them give the jeans an authenticity that you don’t get from brand new pairs.

4. Go to an Army store and invest in a great army jacket. It’s seasonless, and so versatile.

5. You definitely have to try — but never too hard.

 

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Mayor announces public housing improvements

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the Lincoln Houses in East Harlem on Wednesday, calling for the scaffolding to come down at NYCHA complexes across…

National

Peter Theo Curtis: American released by Syrian militants…

An American writer freed this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria spoke briefly outside his family's Cambridge home Wednesday of…

Local

Bratton defends 'broken windows' work as NYPD support…

Sixty percent of those polled said they support the "broken windows" theory approach popularized by Commissioner Bratton since his first term in the 1990s.

Local

Transit changes for Labor Day weekend

The MTA is adding additional service Friday for New Yorkers getting out of the city for the long weekend. On Friday, Aug. 29, 27 additional…

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

Season 11’s top four dancers gave their final performances before America’s Favorite Dancers are announced next week.

Going Out

Labor Day in NYC: Make the last weekend…

Soon, it’ll be time for wool accessories and knee-high boots. Even the Pumpkin Spice Latte has already arrived — but we still have one last…

Going Out

Things to do this week in NYC, Aug.…

MUSIC The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees…

Going Out

5 things to do this weekend in NYC

The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees expected. David Guetta,…

NFL

Mario Manningham on the bubble as Giants play…

Former Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham hopes his second go-around with Big Blue doesn’t end with Saturday’s final cut day.

NFL

Source: Stephen Hill 'faces a battle' to make…

A team source says Stephen Hill, who has battled injuries and poor performances during his first two years, is no lock to make the Jets’ final roster.

Sports

Serena Williams leaving legacy of talented American women…

It seems only a matter of when, not if, Serena Williams will win her 18th career grand slam championship.

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…

Sex

The 10 types of people you meet online

Does it ever seem like online dating profiles tend to get a little repetitive? It turns out you are not the only one to have…