ARJÉ is the love child from husband and wife duo, Bessie Afnaim Corral and Oliver Corral. Together, after years in the fashion industry as creative heads for a luxury lifestyle brand, they ventured off on their own to create something that was still luxury, but sold the see now, buy now model — as opposed to the typical 6 month wait. As someone who has tried (multiple) of their shearling coats (which are all completely reversible!!!), I can attest to the detail and craftsmanship Bessie and Oliver have put into each piece. Their obvious love and enthusiasm for each other makes it all the sweeter.
How would you each describe your style in three words?
Monochromatic – Minimal – Mediterranean Mood
Bessie: My style is very monochromatic – I really obsess about everything matching tonally and I love to play with proportions, oversized sweaters, long coats, and all things in one color in different shades. This has also become our brand DNA and of course I only wear head to toe ARJÉ every single day for all occasions!
Oliver: I’m equally as obsessive as Bess, and we both have quite a defined uniform look.
For Summer I’m always in linens, a linen shirt, our signature drop crotch Teo pants and a very relaxed but sharply tailored blazer. I wear only light colors in summer and for winter, it is shades of dark blue and chocolate brown and I’m in my ARJÉ jeans, light weight knits and you’ll always see me in one of our signature shearlings.
Probably what defines our style the most is that we are always dressed in the same mood – it has really become our thing, we end up channeling and completely living in the mood of our collection and matching everything on our horizon.
How was ARJÉ born?
ARJÉ was born out of our shared vision to create a complete universe to create a lifestyle for each other and to share it with a larger community.
We always wanted to create a modern lifestyle brand that was adapted to the time we live in, a brand that is all about creating a complete wardrobe that dresses you for every occasion, from work to travel and connecting with the consumers immediate impulse of what they need and when they want it.
We launched with mens + women’s clothes as this was our professional “trade” but ARJÉ will evolve into offering so much more than just clothes.
What hole did you see in the luxury space?
We currently live in a time where everything is extremely accessible, today you can have almost everything at your fingertips.
Luxury fashion is still running in a very conventional way. The industry has been trained to create these beautiful + powerful presentations or runway shows to launch a collection, but the actual product is not available to the consumer 6 or 7 months after it has been launched. We believe this concept of Luxury is no longer adapted to the ease and logic of present day life.
So, It was really clear to us before we launched, we had to create a new concept of Luxury that filled a purpose in peoples lives and was adapted to the time we are living.
When we present a new collection, the product is available to the consumer within a month of being.
Do you have specific strengths that compliment each other?
We work in a very particular way, we have a very LAYEREDprocess and we are both very involved in every single aspect of the business and we complement each other very well. From design to sales to finance our handwriting is on everything we do. Oliver takes much more responsibility in the business strategy, his brain is very operational and incredibly creative, he is the ultimate creative problem solverand he knows how to execute any idea the two of us have.
Whilst Bessie is an endless source of inspiration and creativity she works more on the initial and end phase of design and keeping the brand identity air tight across all our platforms. She is very hands on with sales and retail and wholesale customers and conveying the message of the brand.
We often say our process of building our brand and designing a collection and any strategy is a game we used to play when we were younger – when one person draws the head, folds the paper and then the other person draws the body and then folds the paper and the other draws the feet. At the end when you open the drawing the magic of the creation is truly the combined efforts and vision of each of us and there is no start or no end to what each of us do – we work towards building something perfect and doing it together.
Since launching our brand, we found the best way to honor each others strengths and weaknesses to honor the word WE – to take the ego out of the equation and to know that what we can achieve together is so much greater than alone. This has taken time and has been one of the greatest things we have learnt to do along the way.
Can you talk a bit about the showroom experience and your love of the direct custom experience?
Since Launching ARJÉ, our brand was never just about mens+ women’s clothing.
There was always a truth about creating a WORLD and inspiring a way of life.
We knew to convey this message, we had to build environments and experiences for our customers to connect with.
It was one of the best decisions we ever did since launching – within 3 months we opened our first pop up store; “THE ARJÉ SUMMER HOME” we created a home environment with a very clear identity and before we knew it the store was really filled with the type of customers we dreamed of – they were men + women from around the world that really got the brand, and found a part of themselves within our identity.
All our “homes” to date have a very clear mood – they feel like entering a new world, which happens to feels familiar, full of warmth and inspiring. A place where time doesn’t exist and a place where after 2 hours of chatting you feel like its only been 15 mins. Its a place where you can meet other people from corners of the world and discover something else beyond clothes. Your Five senses are fully engaged, from smell, to sound to sight, to touch to taste.
The most fulfilling part of doing what we do is personally sharing it with our community – giving them context to what we have created and making them a part of our vision. We always say that we create clothes for the simple reason to make people “feel” beautiful not just look beautiful.
After closing our 6th “Home” pop up store in July of 2019 we decided to open our studio as a showroom to keep the engagement with our clients until we open a permanent store in the near future. This decision has been quite special to have these “one on one” interactions and to really immerseour clients into our private space, they no longer become just clients but people who really care about what we are doing and how we do it and for us this is invaluable.
Without our clients we would not have our brand and today in such a crowded space – having a brand with a soul really stands out.
As we truly see ARJÉ as a lifestyle brand, not just bound by clothes, our dream is to create somewhere for our customers to stay with us, eat with us, drink with us and wear us and be fully immersed into our universe.