Once upon a time b store
was best known as a boutique of carefully curated labels for the modern London gent. And whilst that hasn’t exactly fallen by the wayside (their Kingly Street store is still brimming with intelligent cult brands), any fashion fan can tell you that over the past few years it’s their own, eponymous label that’s been getting the lion’s share of excitement.
And though the womenswear line has been around for some time, this season it’s really
getting its turn in the spotlight. Probably no coincidence then that there is a new designer at the helm (working alongside menswear’s Kirk Beattie and Matthew Murphy). So we met up with Chloe Struyk, to get to know her a little better and celebrate Spring/Summer 12, her first season on the job…
b store's new womenswear designer Chloe Struyk (right of picture) with a friend
Farfetch.com: What’s your design background?
Chloe: I studied fashion design at Central Saint Martins, during which I did placements with Richard Nicoll
, Vivienne Westwood
, Philip Lim
and Derek Lam
. After I graduated I was offered a job at Vivienne Westwood, as an assistant designer on the Japanese Red Label. It was great experience for me as Vivienne has set many of the bench marks in British fashion.
What was it that attracted you to b store?
If I were to have my own label it would be VERY similar to the things I design here - it mirrors my aesthetic perfectly. I have so much creative freedom here, and couldn't ask for a better team to work alongside.
Thelma and Louise, the 1991 film that part inspired Chloe for Spring/Summer 12
What was your inspiration for this Spring/Summer collection?
Influences for this season came from far and wide, it was heavily influenced by Nineties films like Thelma and Louise
, and Punky Brewster
(a show I loved). I also spent hours leafing through magazines from that period like The Face
. This was combined with the b-girl British aesthetic, bringing in the over printed marble, and I also looked at Nineties Versace
, and Benetton for shape and print references.
A Nineties ad campaign for Versace, another influence for the S/S 12 b store womenswear collection
Who do you imagine to be the b store woman?
We obviously have a target audience and age range, but for me it’s most interesting when people fall outside of this bracket. I hope that anyone could be the b Store woman. We’re a niche brand so there are no real stigmas attached to it - meaning for me that anyone can wear b Store and adapt it to suit their individual style.
What’s your favourite piece from the collection?
Probably a marble print striped chino that unfortunately didn't get produced – it’s quite sad when buyers don't pick up on the things you feel really strongly about.
In your head, how do you see the collection being worn?
I did a piece for the Sunday Times Style
magazine where I styled an item from the collection with items from other designers, and I stand by that. I love the Christopher Kane
neon denim jacket, Pollini
for Louise Gray platform sandals, and P.A.M for super mirrored sunglasses. The collection is quite high summer, so I imagine it to be coupled with chilled, sunny vibes - dressed down and androgynous.
Chloe advises Sunday Times Style readers on how to wear a pair of trousers from the collection
Do you have a long term vision for the women’s collection?
I feel like it’s evolving quite naturally, and over time will become more integrated with the menswear. I wear a lot of menswear pieces myself so for me it’s a natural progression to include more unisex garments in the collection, juxtaposed with feminine prints and fabrics.
I also hope to continue producing our own prints which will be used across both the men’s and womenswear - we seem to have hit a print high across both high fashion and the high street, the public don't seem so scared of print any more, which makes me happy!
Close-ups of two prints from the b store womenswear S/S 12 collection
Any exciting projects coming up?
For Spring/Summer 13 we are continuing the collaboration with Underground
which is looking SUPER exciting. I'm an underground girl anyway, so they are MY shoes