What do you get when you mix together an Eames chair, an old David Bowie album, a Jasper Johns print, a couple barking dogs, a portrait of Alfred Hitchcock, and a big bag of lollipops? The design studio of Shipley & Halmos, who work surrounded by these disparate elements to create clothes that are somehow simultaneously super-hot modern and old school classic. Built around tweaked updates on closet staples like blazers and pencil skirts, their designs are intended to become “live in them” essentials to throw on everyday and individualize with each wearer’s own jewelry and accessories.
“This office is a good representation of our influences,” explains Jeff Halmos. “They’re eclectic.”
“Unfortunately, eclectic makes me think of a bohemian antique collector,” Sam Shipley pipes in. “But this is eclectic to us. It’s a conglomeration of a lot of past references that create this vibe that we hope is very present tense- not too futuristic, not vintage. It all comes together and feels neither old nor ultra-new: they just feel now. Present tense timelessness is what we go for.”
That focus on clothes that aren’t too fussy or fashion forward- pieces that you simply want to wear now- is the key to Shipley and Halmos’ designs for both men and women. “We want our girl to have an aesthetic that’s just easy,” explains Sam Shipley. “We take a classic garment and reinvent the way it’s shaped or draped. We want her to be able to easily throw it on and look effortless and cool. And that’s exactly the same way we design our men’s.”
They’re still a bit of a fashion insider’s secret, but Shipley & Halmos is about to reach a broader, global audience, thanks to a collaboration with Uniqlo that will be in stores for a limited time starting May 7. “We wanted to do something like this to reach people that have never heard of us before,” Shipley says. “We’re a very small business- there are millions of people out there that could buy our clothes but don’t even know we exist. For them to walk into a Uniqlo and fall in love with something we designed, that only creates another degree of interest in our company.”
Shipley & Halmos have garnered plenty of fashion industry attention since showing their first collection early last year. And no wonder: the pair started the company after working in Los Angeles as designers for the critically acclaimed line Trovata. Sam and Jeff have been friends for around a decade, since they met as students at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Starting their own label also meant moving to New York, which has made their designs a few degrees more polished.
“I think that our move, and life here in New York, has really defined what our aesthetic is for Shipley & Halmos,” Halmos says. “We focus more on how people dress here. Trovata had this California laid back beach thing, and Shipley and Halmos is a little more tailored and cleaner, and maybe a little more mature.”
But no matter how mature their designs may get, there’s still a healthy dose of spunky youthfulness in their clothes too. That attitude can be traced straight back to their studio, where a giant S+H Green Stamps poster recently arrived and new bands found on Pandora are a frequent soundtrack. The spacious duplex loft doubles are Jeff Halmos’ living space…but he enjoys the omnipresence of their work. “I think that if I lived in a different state, it would still take up a lot of my thought process,” he says. “Living here or not living here, I still think about it all the time.”
If Shipley and Halmos is what you want to wear all time, head straight to Uniqlo, since the entire line they’ve created for the retailers is about the same price as just one piece from their covetable main collection.