Throughout the decades, Fred Segal has been a strong signifier for LA culture. The heritage brand is best known for its trailblazing denim bar, laid-back, yet refined, silhouettes, and, of course, its iconic logo.
In its latest production, however, Fred Segal turns tradition on its head, embracing new iterations of the legendary label with the help of designer Alfredo Settimio.
“The Neighborhoods Collection” introduces a new set of brand codes, while still honoring Fred Segal’s foundational characteristics.
Settimio remarks, “I had a moment to do things differently and wanted to take it.” Featuring nine unique styles of sweats, hoodies, and tees all made with eco-friendly raw materials including organic and recycled cotton, “The Neighborhoods Collection” demonstrates the brand’s innovative spirit and core values of heritage, inclusivity, and love.
To get a better perspective on “The Neighborhoods Collection”, we caught up with Fred Segal owner and CEO Jeff Lotman, and collection designer Alfredo Settimio in NYC where the duo explained their unique collaboration experience and what makes the pieces from this drop so significant.
What has the collaboration process been like? Was there a unified vision from the start?
Jeff Lotman [JL]: I'd say it's been more collaborative. When I first met Alfredo, there were certain elements I really wanted to incorporate into this collection. Fred would always talk about his products being comfortable, casual, and sexy and I really wanted this collaboration to be reflective of those characteristics.
I also wanted to show that we can keep things fresh. And so I communicated to Alfredo that maybe we should push the envelope a little bit and show that we have a new character.
Alfredo Settimio [AS]: I’ve known this brand from its beginning and I have so much respect for it that I never wanted to offend its legacy by changing too much, but I also knew we needed to reintroduce the brand into the world and take it forward. This collection strays away from the classic Fred Segal style which focuses heavily on the brand logo. I had a moment to do things differently and wanted to take it.
Can you speak to the inspiration behind the specific design elements? The colors, the specific font, and the prints on the back?
AS: This is what I’ve specialized in for many years so it was exciting for me to execute. I like to draw inspiration from the vibe I feel around what actual people are doing – not by going online or to a store. I just like to observe what people are doing on the street, that way I can represent something authentic and relevant.
JL: When considering the design, we also knew we wanted it to be responsibly crafted. We are an LA company, not a Southern California or beach company, so it was important to have everything be made in LA. Each product from this collection starts off with organic and recycled cotton that’s blended together. They spin together the fabric, cut, finish, wash and put the pieces together right in LA, which is pretty cool.
AS: These are very simple products. You can't find blanks like this anywhere, but there's never consistency in material, color, or fit. We going to have our fabric, our fit, our style, our color. We going to change the color every couple of months and make it fresh, on and on. But to start from scratch in this industry is a real privilege.
The idea was to create a product that can be consistent in the long term. We will always have this fabric to work with, and it's going to be always the same. Eventually, this item one day will be synonymous with Fred Segal. You can recognize through all these elements being together because they're not easy to put together. But we have the capability and a factory that can help us to do that, so I thought that we should give it a shot and try to get there. I'm very happy with the result.
What aspects of Fred Segal's identity did you want to specifically carry through in this collection?
AS: Definitely the material and the fit. This clothing speaks for itself. They're going to change all the time. But I think the Fred Segal brand, from my point of view, it should be something that you want to wear when you're happy, that you want to go somewhere, you have fun, you travel, something that you feel comfortable with, but in a premium way.
JL: I feel like the comfortability aspect and the fit speaks to a more diverse, inclusive crowd. This collection was made without any specific gender, which really matters to us. We want this collection to speak to everybody.
What has been your personal favorite aspect of this collaboration?
JL: My favorite part has been watching this collection come to life. When starting out, all you can see is a simple line drawing of a t-shirt that could be cut a certain way with a Pantone color next to the grab. For me, I haven't done this long enough to know what this process is truly like. People can look at that and they can understand I don't get that yet. I just haven't had that kind of experience before. So when Alfredo finally said, "I'm ready to show you the pre-production samples," it really blew me away.
So to finally see this become real was emotional for me. I mean, I bought this company because I believe in the brand. It's a brand that's not been messed with. For 60 years it hasn't been tarnished, and to have that is rare in today’s world.
AS: Very simple. I’ve known this brand for many years. It's always been in my heart. Don't ask me what in particular made this important for me, but maybe it’s because I come from another country. When I used to visit Los Angeles, the first destination was Fred Segal to see what the "next" thing was in fashion. Then, when I would travel back home with my new Fred Segal piece all my friends were like, "Wow, where did you get that?"
50 years later, Jeff walked into my studio and said, "Do you have time to help us to do something with Fred Segal?" It was a no-brainer. It’s taken me 50 years to find that door. So that was my favorite moment of this collection, it felt like it was meant to be from my perspective.
JL: We met with three or four designers and none really clicked, and literally in two minutes after meeting Alfredo I said to myself, "That's the guy." I just knew it. If you want to be a designer, he's central casting. He's got tremendous credibility and his workmanship is unbelievable. So it's been a lot of fun.
Shop "The Neighborhoods Collection" at fredsegal.com.