Several months ago, a stylist friend of mine excitedly asked me if I’d heard about a new label called AREA. This was my first introduction the young womenswear label, and I soon discovered that there was indeed a lot to be excited about. Founded by designers Piotrek Panszczyk and Beckett Fogg, AREA stands out among many new fashion labels for several reasons, most notably for their remarkable and deft usage of texture.
For a label that is only one collection deep (they debuted FW14 at a private showing in February), AREA has established a distinctive sophisticated and innovative aesthetic. Recently, I caught up with the designers to discuss their respective backgrounds and what inspires their collections.
Tell me about the inception of AREA - how you guys came up with it? What is the concept behind your aesthetic?
Piotrek: We overlapped a year when we where both at Parsons, getting our MFA in Fashion Design & Society. That summer, Beckett came to me with some of her leftover embossed fabrics, and asked if I would make something out of them. We really started out with a series of brainstorming sessions, where we talked through the different ideas we had about the industry in general, and about how we saw ourselves approaching a business. We knew that our styles would merge aesthetically, but it was completely different to merge our ideas and priorities.
Where does the name come from?
Beckett: We both felt strongly about our ideas for the structure of a company, and in designing the structure, we came upon the name “AREA.” We really wanted a blank-slate type of name, and we see it as a starting point. We see textiles as a place, or area, to manipulate. Additionally, we hope to evolve the structure of the company in a similar way. We have already had so much help from our friends who are talented in other fields, and we really want to expand on that community, so it’s not about the efforts of a specific designer.
You both studied fashion at Parsons in their MFA. What other experience have you both had in fashion or other fields?
Piotrek: Beckett studied architecture at the University of Virginia, and I studied fashion design at the University of the Arts ArtEZ in Arnhem, and then we got our MFA degrees at Parsons.
Beckett: I've worked in Paris with Hannah Macgibbon at Chloé, Beckett worked at Calvin Klein Collection after graduating from Parsons, until we started AREA.
AREA's use of unexpected fabrics and manipulated textures is really unique. Where did you learn how to experiment with materials?
Piotrek: I don't think its something either of us specifically learned anywhere, it’s more of an interest that we have both always shared.
Beckett: Textiles are always a starting point and focus for us. Even when I was studying architecture, I was most interested in the materiality of buildings, it’s just what interests me most.
And would you say that texture is part of your trademark?
Beckett: It has become a strength for both of us that we are using to distinguish and build our brand.
Piotrek: We want people to be able to immediately recognize our clothes from our textile developments.
What does a typical day consist of?
Beckett: We walk to work, make coffee, do some cleaning, organizing, and answer emails. After that it really depends on the time of year. We spend a lot of time researching both in studio or in libraries. Right now, Piotrek is sketching, and I am working on colors and fabrics.
If you could dress anyone in the world who would it be and why?
Beckett: Gaia Repossi, for her understated sophistication and appreciation of clothes.