September 23, 2014

Behind the Label: BRASS


You would be hard-pressed to find a sweeter pair than Katie & Jay--the innovators behind the new Boston-based fashion label BRASS. These two have a keen eye for design, a passion for quality, and the fashion prowess to craft chic wardrobe basics that never go out of style. They graciously gave me a sneak preview of their curated collection; I immediately wanted to scoop up every one of the five classic dresses and start wearing them pronto. See below for my exclusive interview with Katie & Jay then pop over to their website for more photos and purchasing options (use this code for EARLY ACCESS: Insider23).


How did you two meet?

We met when we were 14 years old during freshman year of high school. We promise our sense of style has gotten better with age! Since then we have gone on to do very different things, but stayed in touch over the years. Katie has since completed her MBA and focused on marketing and e-commerce. After college, Jay concentrated on weaving, textiles, and apparel production. Our varied experiences make us a great team. Plus, being such old friends makes it easier to communicate and keep each other in check.

{This woman is measuring one of our dresses at the factory to ensure it meets our quality control specifications.}

Why is the brand named “Brass?"

Brass has 2 meanings.  The first is a bit more obvious and helps tell our story and the second is more personal.

The first meaning of Brass is a reflection of the products we make. Both of us felt frustrated when shopping, struggling to find quality garments.  The styles we love - like those produced by designers as Theory, Vince and Tory Burch – were like gold.  Beautiful, shiny and desirable, but unrealistic.  It’s hard for a 28 year old woman to fill her closet with $400 dresses. We decided to try to fill the gap for women who want more than cheap fast fashion but don’t want to pay a high premium for quality. Our dresses are produced in the same factories as the world’s top designers. We provide the same attention to detail, quality, and craftsmanship. By selling online we are able to maintain lower overhead and lower markup. This allows us to pass the savings along to our customer.

Therefore, we’re not gold and we’re not a designer label. We’re Brass.  

The second significance of Brass has more to do with an attitude and how we want to lead the business. The word "brass" is not commonly used, but it means “bold, self confident or brazen.” We are both known to speak our minds and stand up for what we believe in. We consider it a sign of good character to be vocal and appreciate a person who can “tell us how it is.” We incorporate this philosophy - to be straightforward and confident - into our business. We hope it will make us better business partners, marketers, manufacturers and leaders.


How did you decide on these styles for the 5 dresses?

We felt it was important to design versatile styles, a curated collection of closet staples. We began the design process by evaluating the dresses we own and love. We lined them up across Katie's living room and discussed why we loved these items. We used the same words over and over again: “It fits perfectly,” “I feel confident in it,” “It’s versatile.”  We knew fit, versatility, and confidence would lay the groundwork for our first five styles.   


We wanted to make sure other women felt the same way. So, we put together a survey, asking more than 150 women about their favorite dress styles. The most popular style was the shirt dress. This dress continues to get a lot of love on Instagram and Facebook.  The other top styles-- the Fit and Flare, Maxi and Sheath--also received a lot of votes. The survey was a great tool for building our first line. It confirmed our original thought: women are looking for versatile, basic dresses that can be worn different ways for different occasions.


How do you plan on accessorizing your dresses for fall?

One of the great things about our dresses is that they’re basic, so you can dress them up or down and style them for your personality.  With fall right around the corner, we’ll be styling the dresses with lots of layers.  We love throwing a pair of tights on under the Fit N Flare or Sheath dress and adding a beautiful scarf.  We have two maxi dresses that we’re super excited to style for fall.  You can take a maxi into colder weather by sporting a denim jacket or a cute, cropped sweater. Add some booties and some brassy bangles and you're good to go. The shirt dress easily stands on it’s own. For fall, we love pairing it with neutral, textured scarf and over-sized leather tote.


What other designers/brands inspire your collection?


Our line is inspired by the designer brands that we always admired from afar, but couldn’t afford to purchase on a regular basis. Brands like Theory, Tory Burch and Diane Von Furstenberg are among a few that we look to for inspiration. We love them because of their simple styles, elegant colors and timeless silhouettes.  Our goal is not to be a fashion brand that you wear for a season or two. We want your Brass dress to be your go to piece. You wear it on a job interview or first date because you know it fits perfectly and gives you that little edge.


 Images courtesy of BRASS.