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Brooklyn style: 3 local designers you should know

With New York Fashion Week in full swing, all eyes in the Big Apple are on style.

While most of the action is taking place at Lincoln Center and other venues around Manhattan ("It" boy Alexander Wang showed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard during February's NYFW, but is back in Manhattan this time around), much of the design talent these days is coming out of Brooklyn.

Don't know the names Degen, David Hart and Stanmore yet? Well, you should: They're three designers, with very different aesthetics and brands, working out of Kings County and using their borough for inspiration, community and the creation of their collections.


David Hart’s menswear is truly for the modern
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Jerritt Clark

David Hart’s menswear is truly for the modern gentleman.

“My brand is really founded on this idea of nostalgia and modernism and futurism,” says the Fort Greene-based designer. “I take a lot of references from the past and update them in a new and modern way.”

Case in point: His fall/winter 2014/15 collection, which contains a light-blue tuxedo jacket, slim-cut blazers in shades from burgundy to a mottled blue-gray, and a geek-chic cardigan. And, of course, Hart’s signature ties.

The FIT alum, who cut his teeth working for big names Anna Sui, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger, began his solo foray with a neckwear line in 2009 (Think cool skinny ties with eye-catching prints made in interesting fabrics — not traditional “work ties”), then expanded to a full menswear range in 2013.

“I’ve always loved ties,” says Hart, 32. “They are the one item that men have in their wardrobe that can allow them to express a little bit of their personality.”

To create his collection, Hart leans on Brooklyn. He develops and creates his own textiles with small, family-run mills; his ties are all handmade in a Sunset Park factory and many of his vendors are local.

“I love Brooklyn,” he says. “The energy really meshes with my work style and my personality. Before, when I was working in Manhattan, I was always working. Being in Brooklyn, I can separate myself from work because it’s such a neighborhood here.”

Available at Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue


Fort Greene’s Lindsay Degen is making knitwear cool.
Photo Credit: Hanna Agar

Fort Greene’s Lindsay Degen is making knitwear cool.

Bright hues, quirky sayings (one of this season’s sweaters is emblazoned with the word “yuck”) and top-notch construction mark the designer’s label, called Degen, which she describes as “fresh and fun.”

“I love making [knitwear] and all of the different things you can create with only one stitch,” says Degen, 26. “There is so much texture, color and creativity within the constraint of that stitch.”

The line features sweaters, leggings, dresses, accessories and more, plus a year-old baby collection, filled with adorable and hip diaper covers, booties and clothes that show off the same aesthetic as her adult pieces, most of which are made at her Brooklyn studio.

The 26-year-old, who attended the Rhode Island School of Design and London’s Central Saint Martins before launching her first full ready to wear collection in 2012, has already collaborated with big names including Converse, VPL and Victoria’s Secret.

For Fashion Week, Degen’s presentation at Pier 59 featured a “trippy sunset and lots of waves,” she says, and next up, she plans more work on her RTW and baby lines, plus new collaborations, including a capsule collection of holiday sweatshirts and sweaters with Ruffeo Hearts Lil Snotty.

Available at Swords-Smith (Williamsburg) and International Playground


A major career change led to Catherine Alexander
Photo Credit: Stanmore

A major career change led to Catherine Alexander founding her jewelry brand Stanmore.

After graduating from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, she worked in film production and prop styling before realizing “I just want to make things.”

After taking woodworking and metalworking classes, Alexander, who also has a background in sculpture, realized that creating jewelry was her calling.

“I just decided to take the plunge,” she says of her decision to start her line in 2010.

With hard work and a lot of pavement-pounding, Stanmore took off. It includes handcrafted rings and necklaces, as well as earrings and bracelets, in metal and stone (from mookaite to black diamonds). As Alexander, 33, describes it, her brand consists of “small statement pieces” for “people who want to wear something really cool every day.”

“There’s a simplicity to [Stanmore] and almost an androgyny to it,” says Alexander, 33. “It’s very geometric but it has a soft edge. I really like to use pops of color — the color really makes them get noticed.”

Most pieces are made in Alexander’s studio — a live-work space on the border of Williamsburg and Greenpoint, which, like much of Brooklyn, is filled with creative people supporting other creative people, she says.

“People are really group-supportive of each other and create an idea nursery,” she says.

Available at Albertine and Courtshop


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