NYC based duo Alicia Rodriguez and Aurelia Mikles founded the online fashion store Founders & Followers. Their curated unique selection, aesthetics and hard-to-find goodies quickly became known as the go-to for emerging clothing brands. F&F inspiring editorials, one-of-a-kind aesthetics and difficult to resist pieces, drag us to a new exciting and inspiring way of combining fashion, online shopping and art. Three years after their launch, METAL gets to meet with these two talented ladies about their project and aspirations along the way.
How did you meet?
So funny. We met at an interview. I remember Aurelia being brutally honest and kind by saying I was way too talented to take that position. We quickly became friends after that, and realized we shared a similar aesthetic and passion for art, styling & photography.
How did F&F start?
As a fashion designer, I was a bit tired of been working for other brands, so I decided it was time to do something on my own. After coming back from Central St Martins from having studied Art direction, I was debating whether to start my own line and the last thing I was thinking about was to open an online store. But it happened really organically and it all came down together with the idea of combining all these mediums that I love. So I approached my friend Aurelia and we started putting together the concept for the online store.
What is the concept behind your store?
Hopefully our store showcases a thoughtfully curated fashion and objects. We believe in artists and designers that have an independent and thoughtful sense of beauty. We hope our store provides a unique point of view that attracts those who share a similar sensibility. We strongly believe the art and objects each person chooses for their life are a reflection of their values and self-expression.
What is the aesthetic you're striving for?
It’s hard to define your own aesthetic in words. It’s sounds so much better in one's imagination! While we run a business that may be aware of trends, we’re also building a brand that,I believe,is timeless. That’s the most exciting part.
How do you pick artists/designers? And how do you start the collection and get to the final result?
Good question! Since we are fashion designers and have been working in the industry for years, we took that knowledge and applied it when choosing designers we’ve always gravitated to. But there are lots of things we consider when choosing which designers we’ll carry each season. The most important one is whether we feel their collection is strong as a whole and has a point.We make a conscious effort of choosing designers that have a strong sense of craftsmanship, garments that are well made and have quality fabrics. It’s essential to pick designers that have a unique product and offer a well constructed product that has longevity beyond a season.
You seem to put great thought and care into each one of your editorials. Why is it important for your website to have editorial content in addition to the product?
The idea of having editorials on the site was always very important to us from early on. It was a great way to showcase our store as a creative force, and to show our very own sensibility. It was also a medium to illustrate each designer’s collections though our own filter. And it’s something that our viewers truly appreciate and differentiate our store from other online shops that are more focused on a retail experience.
F&F manages to merge different creative mediums such as fashion, photography and illustration. Have you always been interested in any other creative areas?
Absolutely. Having an eye and finding ways to apply it is key to us. Getting to combine different mediums such as photography and beautiful illustrations has been an incredible experience for F&F. But what brings it all to life though, are our editorial images, where ambience and mood are far more important than simply pushing a product. A great example is our “Atelier” section, were we showcase our stocked designers with studio visits as they tell us about their inspirations.
How would you describe the evolution of e-commerce concept stores over the last few years?
The amount of online stores that have emerged in the last couple of years is crazy. Sometimes this can be very overwhelming for the consumer, but it’s very democratic at the same time. Nowadays most people shop online, and because of this fact, most retail and chain stores have been forced to have an online presence.
Today it seems like everyone owns an online fashion store.
There’ll always be a lot of competition out there. However, there are still only a handful of curated online stores that have a unique voice and offer unique products and brands we respect.
How do you picture the F&F costumer?
We think of our customer as a girl who's very savy about fashion, loves to experiment with different silhouettes, with great personal style and is not looking for the trendy item of the season.
What’s F&F iconic piece?
A long oversize coat.
Who are some of your favorite designers?
Chistophe Lemaire, Matthew Ames, Dries Van Noten, Cosmic Wonder, Samuji & Suzanne Rae.
What do you like the most about your job?
The exciting moment when designers unveil their new collections, either during a fashion show, or in a showroom appointment. Also, being able to work with lots of creative and talented people on a daily basis.
What are you currently working on?
The assortment for next season, among other things.
A pop-up store in NY before the holidays,so people can see in person the merchandise and we get to meet our customers. We’d love to do collaborations with some of the designers we represent, they are all so creative, inspiring and amazingly friendly. And hopefully, a Founders&Followers collection next year. Stay tuned!