The Proenza Playbook

Trailblazers of Contemporary American Luxury

When you hear PS1, PS11, and PS13 what comes to mind? While some may immediately think of New York City schools, those in fashion only have one thing going through their head...Proenza Schouler.

Proenza Schouler is Born

Before Proenza Schouler was the namesake that it is today, it was simply a collaboration between two students for a senior fashion show using a combination of their mothers’ maiden names. American designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez entered Parsons Design School as two strangers, bright eyed and ready to make it in the fashion world. Little did they know that by their senior year they would be collaborating on a senior thesis project that would become the first collection of Proenza Schouler, eventually purchased by famed luxury retailer, Barney’s.

A Brand Evolves

The dynamic duo behind Proenza Schouler joined the fashion industry at a time where creativity and exploration was encouraged. The two had the opportunity to try new things and make mistakes without the heavy criticism that comes along with the job today. Proenza Schouler made its debut at the pivotal moment as American fashion was on the cusp of a breakthrough. The duo had the ability to force this change with their young, hip designs. After much experimentation and a little soul searching the team was able to define an aesthetic that would become Proenza Schouler. However, to this day both creatives agree that they will always be evolving the brand image as creativity is a process that is never truly complete.

The brand has grown immensely since the start, but both McCollough and Hernandez have never let their creativity be stifled by brand development. They represent the next generation in American design putting forth a mix of traditionalism and futurism in their looks. Proenza Schouler wanted to create the brand around a woman who didn’t take herself too seriously, but still reflected high fashion held to a perfectly imperfect standard.The brand itself calls their style, “refined ease taking inspiration from contemporary art and youth culture” McCollough and Hernandez knew that their ideal woman’s look could not be complete without a handbag and set out to create the ultimate piece fitting the bill of contemporary American luxury.

The “Anti-It Bag”

Staying true to their unconventional roots, in 2008 the duo made the decision to ignore the industry’s standards and create the “anti-it bag”. Both McCollough and Hernandez did not want the trendy bag that would slowly fade falling victim to the passage of time, but rather a classic piece rid of any logos focused on complimenting a look instead of consuming it. Thus the Proenza PS1 was born taking heavy inspiration from the early 1900s school bags. The design is casual and easy to wear, and the name, PS1, muses with the brand’s initials while also following NYC schools naming conventions, particularly apt for this satchel-style bag.

Despite its nickname of the anti-it bag, almost overnight the PS1 became a wild success. Women flocked to Proenza for the chance to own the new hip style and the rest was history. When the duo saw just how sought after their handbags were they did what any good designer would and expanded the line. Proenza then launched the PS1 crossbody and clutch and the beloved satchel in croc, canvas, metallic, raffia and just about any other variety to fit your personal style. McCollough and Hernandez also pushed forward with the PS11, a more compact bag complete with a metallic plate and turnlock closure and the PS13, a satchel-style bag.

Rather than sitting back and riding out their incredible success, the duo behind Proenza Schouler continue to persevere debuting extraordinary collections season after season. As for the future of Proenza, the team says that they will always create and evolve while staying true to their humble beginnings. As well-versed designers in the industry, McCollough and Hernandez have been able to keep fellow designers on their toes and us fans always coming back for more!

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