L’Agence’s Jeff Rudes Secret for Designing Collections That Sell

by Aria Darcella

On Wednesday, L’Agence was a step ahead of the fashion crowd, presenting its Fall 2020 collection two days before NYFW’s official start. The label took over the top of the Bowery Hotel, a lush spot that captured the retro-glam-rock vibe of the clothes. Through the crowd of guests The Daily managed to grab L’Agence CEO and creative director Jeff Rudes for a quick chat about the new line, and his Valentine’s Day plans.

Jeff Rudes (Courtesy)

Tell all about the new collection! What was on your moodboard?
This season, we took a fresh approach to men’s tailoring with a feminine attitude. Suiting plays a central role in the wardrobe of the L’Agence woman’s wardrobe. Our blazers pair effortlessly with signature denim, which has become a cornerstone of the L’Agence range. Silk separates in romantic prints convey an elevated ease and a savoir faire sentiment that bridges a West Coast ease and a Parisian attitude.

How do you guys change it up from season to season?
It took five years to get our classics, which is the perfect shirt story. The dress story, the blazers. Our success is translating them into the next season. We use that philosophy and then 20 to 25 percent each season are new bodies. But they relate to what we’re doing really easily. You wouldn’t think, “Oh, my God, that’s something new. I haven’t seen it before.” It is when it gets a little bit more intimate, and closer to the collection that you’ll see newness. But our success is taking what we’ve had and done well with and evolving it in exciting new fabrics. And it looks newer, and more exciting than any new thing we can create.

L’Agence Fall 2020 (Courtesy)

Why was the Bowery Hotel the ideal setting for the presentation?
The Bowery was the perfect backdrop to showcase the collection because it creates a rock ’n’ roll vibe.

Do you hang around this area at all?
Kind of, yes. I’m from L.A., but I know the neighborhood well.

Any go-to spots?
I was at Indochine for dinner last night, which I really enjoy. It was a great fashion crowd. [I also like] the Mercer Kitchen, and the bar upstairs.

How do you treat yourself when you’re on the East Coast?
I’ve got one appointment after another. I treat myself well when I get home after dinner.

What denim trends should we be on the lookout for this season?
Wide wale corduroy in ’70s inspired jeans, dark saturated denim, and straight legs.

What things were you drawn to in the ’70s?
Bell-bottoms, platform shoes, cool corduroy. It was an easy way of dressing.

Congrats on the recent opening of your new Soho location! How did you celebrate its launch?
We had a soft launch in December and will be celebrating with a store opening party in March.

You helped us celebrate our Art Basel issue in December. Tell us about the night!
Introducing the Bert Stern capsule collection at Art Basel, of course, would sound expected; however, it was quite unexpected. Hosting a creative guest list and clothing the girls in Stern was a highlight of the evening. [The collection] has been hugely successful. It’s about Marilyn Monroe, an iconic American figure. It’s about a famous shoot that Bert Stern did with Marilyn, two weeks before she died, called “The Last Sitting.” Back in the day it was Avedon, Penn, and Bert Stern. He was one of the greats, and also shot lots of Vogue covers. So doing it with Bert’s background was also very interesting for us.

Many of our guests were getting their first look at the Stern collection. What kinds of feedback did you get?
Our first foray into a brand collaboration was received with an overwhelming response. Stores were texting our sales agents while the event was taking place at Art Basel. People just love the vibe of how we did it and style it. They loved that it was focused on T-shirts, but then we had the jackets and the jeans and the silk pieces. But the strength really is the T-shirt with Marilyn’s image on it.

The last time we chatted, you mentioned plans to launch bags and shoes. Any updates?
Our new tote bag is in our L’Agence stores, and shoes arrive in early April. They were both designed specifically for our customer.

If you could have any model or celebrity be a L’Agence brand ambassador, who would it be and why?
Kate Beckinsale, because she has an elegant, cool attitude about her.

What are you and your wife doing for Valentine’s Day?
It’s always a surprise, so unfortunately I must stay tight-lipped about it.

Make sure to pick up your free copy outside all the major shows today or read the full issue below.

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