designer spotlight: bedford street laundry

Jessica Yuen is the face behind Bedford Street Laundry, one of our newest store additions. The native New Yorker studied design at Parsons and is now putting her skills to the test by producing eye-catching pieces with fresh colorways and unshakable quality. We got in touch to gauge the pulse of this new creative tour de force.

Where do you get the name of the line from?

Bedford Street Laundry is named after the laundromat my parents operated since I was a kid. They sold the business in the summer of 2009 around the same time I started developing the brand. I was having so much trouble coming up with a name and it hit me that it’d be great to kind of honor all the hard work it took to put me through design school. Ironically, my mother actually thinks it’s weird and not “fashion-y” enough but hopefully she’ll come around to it.

What influences or experiences do you attribute your signature design aesthetic to?

It’s definitely still evolving but in essence - the clean cuts, the unexpected mix of textures and the sprinkle of flashy, bad ass - is unquestionably informed by life in New York. Everyone strives for that effortless cool that’s unique and crowd-pleasing and practical all at once.

Your collection seems to emphasize quality production and materials to a greater extent than most other young lines. Why did you go this route and what is your ideal market?

I’m convinced that the longevity of a brand is directly proportional to the lifespan of the clothes it produces. At the inception of Bedford Street Laundry, the economy was in the crapper. I knew I had to offer products that had a longer life than one or two seasons. Most people would agree that it’s supremely upsetting to drop a chunk of money on something that looks great initially but ends up falling apart or pilling after a few wears. Plus, I reasoned that if I got through four years at Parsons and went through the trouble of starting a brand in a market that’s already overrun with budding designers, it should be something worthwhile. Otherwise, I might as well have gotten an Associate’s degree and went on to design poly-blend print dresses for Strawberry.

My ideal customer doesn’t have a specific age or look. It’s really about the attitude. She’s definitely sexy and doesn’t take shit from anyone.

Where do you see the line going in the next few seasons, as far as expansion? Is there anything else you'd like to try out?

I’m really excited about Spring 2012. I’m experimenting with accessories and swimwear and maybe even some backpacks. I’m throwing the idea of presenting during NYFW around but we’ll see how much I can handle. Definitely hoping to expand into stores across the country and overseas as well as launching an e-shop.

I’d love to learn more about machine-knitting when I get a chance so I can develop more complex knits. Also, a lot of my guy friends have bugged me to do menswear, which would be awesome.

We're looking for things to do with the approach of a nicer season. Give us your prediction of what's going to be major for Summer 2011.

I can’t wait for scouring flea markets, rooftop barbecues, Martin Solveig’s new album, sweaty dance parties, impromptu beach days and that elusive, half-toxic New York summer breeze. Maybe I’ll even get some work done…

shop the bedford st laundry spring/summer 2011 collection here

jessica yuen, designer

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