In the fashion world the story has taken on mythic proportions: The thesis collection of two young Parsons students glimmers with genius and is promptly snapped up by Barneys New York, where it flies off the racks. A show at New York Fashion Week and meetings with Anna Wintour follow in short order.
Now, ten years later, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler remain the same low-key guys they were back then, but that little collection has matured into a full-blown, consistently lauded, capital-F, capital-L Fashion Label.
To honor Proenza’s landmark 10th anniversary, Barneys New York has reissued that first collection from 2003, which you can shop below. What we found so shocking is how timeless these pieces are—any one of them would look at home on a runway tomorrow. Below, we chat with the boys to find out how their brand has evolved over the years, and what has stayed the same.
Barneys New York: How has your work changed in the last 10 years?
Proenza Schouler: Both the brand and the business have really grown up in the past few years. While we constantly challenge ourselves to work outside our comfort zone and push things to the next level, the passion for what we do has never wavered. Every season somehow feels like a new beginning, a new chance to express ourselves and to engage with our audience.
How has it stayed the same?
I think it’s been the same woman since the beginning. It’s a woman who loves luxury, craft, and creativity.
What do you think looking back on your early work?
The attitude is still the same. Our girl is just maybe a bit more polished now, a bit more grown up; maybe she learned a little along the way and is better because of it.
How do you feel about having the opportunity to go back and fine-tune that first collection for today?
It was definitely a nostalgic experience to go back to that collection. We were surprised by how much it still felt relevant and contemporary. We fine-tuned some of the proportions for today but all in all, not much has changed. It is still one of our favorite collections. It was the beginning and because of that it holds so much sentimental value for us. We are so happy to be able to reissue it now to a much larger audience than when it was first offered.
Any favorite pieces in the collection?
We are partial to the cracked leather pieces. It was our first foray into leather, something that has become a kind of obsession for us.
How would you describe the DNA of Proenza Schouler?
New American luxury with a refined ease.
Photo by Josie Miner