source for style: frank + lu

Little Style Finder is so excited to introduce you to a favorite brand of ours…

Frank & Lu– a new label for boys and girls ages 2 to 14, selling uber-chic outwear (the leather jacket is amazing!), sweaters, pants, denim, knits, tees, skirts and dresses.

Name: MIchael Jarvela

Title: Founder, CEO of Frank & Lu

Twitter: @frankandlu

Facebook: Frank and Lu

Pinterest: Coming Soon

Please tell us a bit about yourself: I’m a veteran fashion designer of 18 years, mostly in menswear, and most recently I left my post as VP of men’s design for Gap.  I created JCrew’s best selling tee shirts ever when we went to lighter weight and softer washed tees right after Mickey Drexler joined the company.  I’ve also designed for Banana Republic, Express and Club Monaco.   I’ve lived in Manhattan for 23 years.  l graduated from Parson’s school of design in 1993.  I currently live in Chelsea with my wife, Kerry, two children, Francis and Lucy, and Marty- our dog.

What is the story behind Frank & Lu? The idea for Frank and Lu was born partly from necessity, and partly because after the arrival of our son 7 years ago, I really didn’t like the offering in boys’ clothes in the market.   Since he was old enough to have an opinion, my son Francis would not wear scratchy, stiff clothes with dinosaur decals on them.  And though my daughter loves pink, and ruffles and tulle, Lucy can be uncomfortable for about 7 1/2 minutes before a outfit change ensues. Uncomfortable clothes just don’t work for a busy family. So I built a fashion line that incorporates a high degree of style with comfort built in, using lighter weight fabrics that are easy to get in and out of.  I also found it difficult to find beautiful solid color clothing to layer.  I’m big on creating the perfect tee shirt for boys and girls, and I think it’s critical to have a tee you can layer under sweaters, without stuff all over it, or especially in girls, things like ruffles which don’t allow a cardigan to look nice or fit comfortably.

What does this brand stand for? I wanted to create some simple pieces with more of a twist, or nod to high style, with attention to some of the details that matter, like zippers, or buttons. I wanted to make clothes an adult would want to wear, but more importantly an alternative to all the clothes out there that are designed with every item having stuff put all over it.  I also wanted to make a line, that was reasonably affordable.   Most designer lines have some amazing pieces, but to get a perfect white poplin shirt, or peacoat, or sweater  without stuff all over it, seems to cost the most when it doesn’t have to.

Who is the Frank & Lu customer (who are you designing for)? Parents who can’t find anything but pink and purple, monster trucks and pirates. Parents who need to mix in something to the pattern on pattern on color on color on stuff on stuff. Kids who want to be comfortable and look like Mom and Dad.  If mom is shopping at James Perse or Vince and Dad appreciates Rag and Bone, or APC, then I wanted to create a line of clothes they would like to put on their children.

What drew you to starting your own line? The frustration my fellow designers expressed at how difficult it was to find fashionable kids clothes that didn’t cost their college education.

What inspires you? Beautiful, simple style with an attention to trims and subtle details.   The most inspirational place for me to shop is Tokyo, because they have such a thoughtful eye toward design in how they do everything, from photography, to graphics, to presentation, packaging, and the twist they put on clothing design.   I’d give you a more esoteric answer like fine art, or Sunday in central park, but I honestly love crafting product, making clothes is fun, and when you get something that looks great, and a kid will actually wear with ease, it’s a joy.

What children’s brands currently in the marketplace do you admire and
why? Trico Field – great design, but very pricey, and it has a lot of stuff on it, but it’s beautiful crafted product, fabric and details are great.  I also like Crewcuts a lot, I think they’ve done a good job with mixing some of the whimsy, with some good simple design, and not too much stuff.  And I wish James Perse still did kids clothes.

What advice would you give to parents shopping for their children? If at all possible put the clothes on your kid and ask them.  I got so frustrated even getting my son in tees when he was young, I got to the point where I’d hold up two tees and say which one, and he’d always pick the lighter yarn, with looser tension tee, that was most comfortable.   I’d rather have clothes that my kids will wear out and destroy than fight with them to wear something that they find uncomfortable.   BTW my son is one of those kids who refuses to wear jeans, and only lives in sweatpants and shorts, so everything I design has to pass the test of whether or not he’ll wear it.

Do you find that most parents take the same stylistic approach with dressing their children as they do with themselves? Yes- I think that’s natural, but I think the options are somewhat limited for parents to do that, which is another reason I created the line.  I don’t advocate the mini me dressing philosophy, unless a mini you really makes your kid happy.

Be sure check out their concept store and support Small Business Saturday (you will not be disappointed)

Frank & Lu
177 Post Rd West
Westport Ct, 06880

IT list: babesta’s top holiday picks + small business saturday discounts, 11/24

Babesta is one of my favorite neighborhood boutiques  in NYC. For years, Jennifer Cattaui has been introducing parents to trendy children’s wears that conjure up a bit of funky urban culture, connecting downtown New York style with independent artists and designers. Babesta gives style-savvy parents an alternative to the typical designs of baby and toddler clothing and accessories. From boutiques across the country, these are holiday “musts” for your little ones.  Looking to splurge- be sure to check out the custom unicorn head!

1.  ESP No. 1 Jeans: This line is all about modern, unisex looks. Gorgeous cuts and fabrication, and a great fit. Made in USA. We love the poppy colors in “new neutrals” that mix and match with loads of things.  $72

2.  Mini Rodini Undies: We love Mini Rodini full stop (we’ve carried it for years and were the first in the states (or pretty close to it) to sell the brand. Although there are literally TONS of styles that are completely off the hook for the season, we chose for our top 20 the undies. We did because we normally don’t sell undies and undies aren’t normally something that are so “considered” and beautiful, but these are! They feature the illustrations of artist and head of the company Cassandra Rhodin, that find inspiration from her family’s circus heritage.  We thought these were so adorable that we couldn’t resist. This is a great present from that practical person who needed to show a little flair. Love the panda face. $22 for 2-pack.

3. Snow Globe by Seedling Kids: We love the craft collection from Seedling Kids and we thought the snow globe was a perfect wintertime activity. You mold the clay, bake it like a shrinky dink and then let it set. Later you add water and glitter and voila! This is a great, whimsical snowy-day activity! $28

4.  Loog Guitar: This guitar started off as an academic project in 2010 by designer Rafael Atijas (his master’s thesis). It was launched via Kickstarter, with a goal to raise $15,000 and they raised $65,618. People were excited about the product. The three-string guitar makes it fun and easy for kids to play music. Rafael believes that building the guitar is an integral part of the experience–to be a real guitar hero you have to build it.  $149

5. Sublime tee by Rowdy Sprout: We love the line Rowdy Sprout and have been carrying it forever. We adore the Sublime tee for its awesome graphic of the classic SKA band—the bright colors, soft wash and cool raglan sleeves make this shirt simply awesome. Made in California! $37

6. Starry Sweatshirt Dress by Bobo Choses: Bobo Choses, out of Barcelona Spain is one of the most inventive, creative clothing lines on the market today. This line incorporates stars, faces and cats. We love this dress for its simplicity, which is a hallmark of the line, coupled with handmade touches like the cross embroidery at the bottom of the dress. The construction is excellent and the brand is carried in but a few U.S. boutiques. $72

7. Cardishirtigan by La Miniatura: Project Runway’s Jeffery Sebelia was the rebel of the show and that rocker attitude shows through in his line of cool boys’ clothing. This cardishirtigan is half cardigan half button down shirt, and the mixed medium makes it super cool and comfortable. We love Sebelia’s designs in this line. He is the king of cool, rocker boys’ clothing. $104

8. A for Apple Fair Aisle sweatshirts: There’s nothing that says winter in fashion more than Fair Aisle and these sweatshirts by Hong Kong based A for Apple take that winter feeling and add an upbeat optimism by using a great bright color palette. A for Apple has excellent quality, washes well and is super stylish. These sweatshirts are very thick and soft, and will definitely be a go-to style for a little girl or fashion-forward boy. $82-$88

9. Indie Button Factory by Chronicle: Kids love to bring a little flair to their book bags, coats and shirts. Making their own buttons is a fun way to express themselves. We love the indie spirit of this set – it’s right up Babesta’s alley! Great DIY for boys or girls. $18.95

10. Smash Scrapbook and accessories kit: We were blown away with this kit – it’s so on point and fun. It makes you want to grab all of your photos and ticket stubs and the rest and come up with a great creative project. This is a perfect gift for a tween, new parent—or really anyone who wants to capture memories in a super cool way. There are even “baby book” versions for mom!

11. Yoshitomo Nara My Sweet Dog Pull Toy by Vilac: Although this isn’t brand new, it is a hot seller for our design conscious clientele. Vilac has been manufacturing toys in France for over 80 years and has some of the most innovative designs. Smoothed, sanded and lacquered by craftsmen. Nara is a super-groovy pop artist from Japan who came on the scene in the 90’s. $92

12. Coco to Go by Bloom: This is the most versatile bouncer on the market. The soothing vibration calms babies. 3 in one lounger, rocker and seat. Folds up almost flat, making it ideal for travel. $199

13. Caravan Crib & Dresser by Kalon Studios: These cribs are made in the U.S.A. The innovative designs are highly recognized and are made of materials that are renewable, eco-friendly, bio degradable and sustainably forested. There are various color options that can be combined with their trademark raw finish. Each piece crib $895 in color (can come plain for $695); dresser $1395 plain, $1495 in color.

14. Facebook by Chuck Close: (Abrams) Artist Chuck Close is an American painter and photographer who achieved fame as a photo realist. Close suffers from facial blindness (can’t remember faces) and has found that when he paints portraits he is better able to recognize people. This book is dedicated to such portraits. Having suffering a spinal artery collapse in 1988, he is paralyzed yet continues his art and continues to inspire. $18.95

15. Crowded Teeth Wall Art: This Etsy superstar Michelle Romo was hand picked by Babesta because we fell so hard for the cool styling. Whimsical with bold graphic influence and great sense of humor. $30-$60.

16. Auggie Robot March Bedding: The fun prints are perfect for little boys who don’t want to be too cutesy. 100% cotton, made in India. crib sheets $45, shams $40, toddler duvets $115, twin duvets $145, sleep sacks, everyday blanket $78.

17. Bugaboo Cameleon Stroller C3 Neon: Bugaboo has always been our go-to stroller. You ask any Babesta associate and that will be the top pick. We love that they jumped on the neon craze with these cool neon wheels, stitching and beautiful metallic blue frame. $1059

18. Low Temperature Bunting by 7AM Enfant: Whenever we would instruct a new mom to use the amazing 212 blanket by 7AM Enfant, we’d say “don’t put a coat on the baby – the only thing you have to remember is that this is super warm.” For any baby who is feeling overheated (or will be going in and out of the stroller and needs a coat, etc., this low temperature bunting is has all of the style  but a little less heat for in-between weather (fall, spring and “already bundled up” winter). Chalet-chic styling. $138  (0-6M); $158 (6-18M); $178 (1Y-3Y).

19. Gummi Bath Toys by Jellio: The design house Jellio works out of Red Hook Brooklyn. They have been a favorite of Babesta for years. We will have their newest crop of Gummi lights (coming in November) as well as other sweet-as-candy home décor goodies. They broke the mold of furniture design when they recently came up with these cavity-free bath toys fashioned after kids’ favorite treats. $28

20. Unicorn Head by DFC: The Mexican design duo casts some of the most amazing animal heads in glitter, gold, silver and any color you desire. We love the unicorn head for its cool yet girly appeal, though the gold glitter cat head is a very close second! Custom made, from $750.

AND, don’t forget Small Business Saturday taking place on November 24th, 2012, which Babesta is taking part in!

Babesta Threads and Cribz has banded together with 17 other TriBeCa businesses who are celebrating Small Business Saturday — so if “doorbusters” isn’t your style and you prefer small batch, unique goods for your baby, child, friend or family member, then TriBeCa will be the place to be! Together, the businesses created a map and listed all of the sales and promotions for each of the downtown businesses, and they invite everyone to make a fun day of shopping downtown!
For Small Business Saturday, Babesta is offering day-long discounts—20% off* in the Threads store (and they just got some amazing new stock including new styles of Mini Rodini coats, Rowdy Sprout tees, adorable new barrettes and toys) and 10% off* goods in Cribz, so it’s a perfect time to think nursery, footmuffs, wall art, feeding goods and more. Babesta will have giveaways throughout the day (toys, discounts, etc!), goodies to nosh on, and festive music.
*Note: Excluded from the sale are Bugaboo items and already sale items.