Melissa Coker of Wren and David Hershberger of Endovanera – successful, savvy and single fashion designers we love.
If you think fashion in Los Angeles stops at True Religion jeans and Ed Hardy T-shirts, think again. This city is a breeding ground for innovative design talent, from fresh-faced upstarts turning out cutting-edge clothes to consummate veterans finding new ways to make us feel good about getting dressed every morning. Here are two in a 3-part series of the most buzz worthy — all of them singulars.
|Melissa Coker for WrenMelissa Coker didn’t just step into the fashion world after college—she dove in. The Los Angeles-based designer, who launched winsome women’s label Wren last year, nabbed the enviable position of assistant to Vogue editor-at-large Andre Leon Talley straight out of New York University.|
“I didn’t realize at the time how cool it was,” admits the now-31-year-old, whose luxe cashmere cardigans, tissue-thin T-shirts and pleated miniskirts have found fans in Keira Knightley and Katie Holmes.
“Andre took me to the couture shows in Paris, and I was like, ‘Ho-hum.’” Since then, Coker’s grown to appreciate her place in the fashion world—as a fledgling designer frequently haloed by media buzz. She launched her brand after she and a friend whipped up some designs and drove them to the edgy boutique Opening Ceremony, where “they bought the whole thing,” Coker says.
Her inspirations for Wren — named after Charles Dickens’ character Jenny Wren, a doll dressmaker, in Our Mutual Friend — are steeped in pop culture. The designer also has a muse of sorts: Tennessee Thomas, the sweet-faced drummer for all female band The Like. “There’s something childlike about her,” says Coker. “I often think of her when designing. … I guess I should tell her that.”
David Hershberger for Endovanera
Eastside fashion brand Endovanera was born out of designer David Hershberger’s quest for the perfect pair of jeans. It all started in 2005, “around the time when guys were wearing girls’ jeans” to get that skinny-jeans look, says Hershberger. “And I was not having it.
I started making men’s jeans that were really straight, with no curves around the butt.” The 26-year-old self-taught designer was soon making pairs for his pals eventually launched Endovanera with his longtime friend Mitch Moseley (who deals with the business side of the brand).
The collection is steeped in menswear influences — dark, moody pieces built for rangy rockers that take aesthetic cues from the Edwardian era, modern gothic culture, vintage Comme des Garçons and even Jedi Knights.
Hershberger, who grew up in Huntington Beach, says he’s most inspired by his friends — a hip contingent of artists, musicians and other clothing designers.
Last year, Hershberger and Moseley opened their own store in Echo Park, Front St., to sell Endovanera and set up a workshop and laboratory for the brand. “It’s a real luxury to have the store,” says Hershberger. “It’s a place where we can do whatever we want.”
He’s also moved into women’s wear, turning out a tightly edited collection that echoes the brooding — and vaguely elfish — sensibilities of the men’s line. He’s enjoying the creative freedom that designing for the fairer sex allows.
“So many ideas for menswear get pushed aside because you have to tone everything down for men,” he says. “With women’s wear, all those little eccentricities work.”