Designer Profile: The Battalion

Thursday, April 9, 2009


above: looks from The Battalion's Autumn/Winter 09 presentation
all images and lookbook courtesy of The Battalion's website

I’ll admit that I don’t know the first thing about eco-conscious fashion; it’s just not at the top of my list of criteria when I’m shopping for a new outfit. So last year, when I fell in love with the simple and flattering design of a bamboo-jersey tunic by The Battalion Eco Couture, a Los Angeles-based label, it was simply icing on the cake for me that their materials happen to be environmentally friendly. I had a chance to learn more about the line from Chrys Wong, who, along with sister Linda, are the creative team behind The Battalion. The line produces fashion-forward, timeless clothing, and the tunic that I purchased last year is one of the most comfortable and versatile pieces in my wardrobe. Who knew being eco-conscious could be so chic? Thank you, Chrys for the interview, and a special shoutout to Jane for setting up the interview!

Before they formally launched The Battalion with the Autumn/Winter 2007 collection, Chrys and Linda Wong began experimenting with environmentally friendly fashion of a different kind. Chrys, who at the time was working in retail for Maxfield’s in Los Angeles, commissioned sister, Linda, who was then studying fashion design at Otis College of Art and Design, to tailor coats and jackets made of vintage recycled cashmere, which the sisters then sold to exclusive boutiques in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles. Despite growing popularity for their repurposed vintage pieces, “it was difficult to go into production with recycled materials due to lack of uniformity,” Chrys says. The decision to embrace bamboo and organic fabrics was a natural outgrowth of their environmentally minded beginnings. In 2006, the sisters launched the label, which, according to Chrys is: “a modern, edgy, comfort driven line created for the woman who is never satisfied with being mainstream, a true bohemian with an eternal quest for personal style.”

Each season, Chrys comes up with a narrative for the collection, Linda sources fabric and trims from suppliers and the sisters work together to pick the fabric and color palette that best interprets that narrative. For the Spring/Summer 2009 collection, the narratives drew from an eclectic blend of influences, including 80s new wave and flamenco. Some of the standout pieces for spring include red and purple ruffled dresses and for summer, black slashed jersey tops and leggings: perfect anchor pieces for floaty separates. For their Autumn/Winter 2009 show at LA Fashion Week, the team sought to counter general pessimism with a strong Native-American story. “What is more uplifting than the discovery of America and what it meant to us as we are trying to take control of our future?” Chrys reflects. The latest runway show paired veggie fur vests with extravagant vintage Indian feather headdresses, Pocahontas lace front leggings, Lewis and Clark expedition style cargo outfits and European imperialist style military jackets.

video
above: The Battalion video lookbook

While Chrys says the sisters dream of one day expanding their line to include menswear, children’s clothing and eco-friendly furniture, the team will focus on producing quality work for now. “Anything that doesn’t meet our personal standards will not make it to the floor of retail stores,” she says. The Battalion, Chrys explains, is strongly committed to their strict eco-conscious philosophy, which includes the collection's chosen materials: bamboo, organic cotton, peace silk and some polyester silk made from recycled bottles. The sisters are so conscientious about using the right materials to embody their philosophy that when their friend, actress Julie Delpy first learned about the line using bamboo materials, she jokingly accused them of stealing food from pandas. “We actually looked into it,” Chrys says, “and luckily, we are using Moso, which is not a type of bamboo eaten by giant pandas.”

The Battalion is available at retail outlets such as Holt Renfrew and Fred Segal Flair and online through http://www.revolveclothing.com and http://www.shopflick.com. For more information, check out their website at http://thebattalion.us.

4 comments:

The Haute-Shopper said...

Thanks so much for posting this. I really enjoy reading about all the independent designers your writing about! I have to admit I'm not too eco-conscious when it comes to clothes shopping (more so with food) and I think there's this cliche attached to eco clothes looking frumpy.

These clothes are beautiful and I love the idea of them having narratives to go with each seasonal collection. I definitely need to check them out.

Louisee x said...

Definitely try the NY Style advisor at Topshop - you'll love it! It's such good fun :).

First look at the 'Battalion' poster, I thought it was a film! Haha!
I absolutely adore the way they have filmed their video lookbook, too. The french music, and the way it's shot just adds to the appeal of the clothes!

xoxo

Sarah said...

great post, i linked to it on my site. its always great to learn about new labels

Dream Sequins said...

Haute-Shopper: Thanks for reading and commenting! I completely agree with you about this cliche re: eco clothing. That's why I was surprised to learn that The Battalion designs with eco-friendly materials. These are nice staples for any wardrobe. Pretty classic.

Louisee x: I love the film, too. That's why I used it! I'd love to incorporate more film portions in the blog... Neat idea. And off-topic re: Topshop, I DID sign up for the Style Advisor in NY. Haven't heard back from them yet-- must be a looong wait list. :)

Sarah: Thanks for linking to me on your blog! I have more profiles of indie designers coming out and I'd love to get your feedback on them!

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