Monday, March 7, 2011

Vintage Havana Balances Retro Casual

Vintage HavanaVintage Havana may have started as a casual beachwear clothing line, but nowadays it defines itself as street contemporary. There is a reason for the change. Vintage Havana has changed its approach.

Nowadays, the design team led by Joseph Shiloach and relative newcomer Marina Chianese start by creating a composite of what people are wearing now. And then, they translate what that might look like a few months ahead.

It helps turn design from a look designers want you to like into a design that you might be looking for. The spring fashions from Vintage Havana provide a great example. The designs still carry a retro look, but there seems to be an emphasis on layers, looser clothing, and a understated color palette. Even the tie-dye patterns are often confined to two colors.

Three Casual Comforts Without Forcing A Look.

If you were to translate these into looks, you might think stylized vintage, comfortably understated, and layered but not committed. It goes with what my female friends tell me is the trend or anti-trend ahead. Women aren't shopping for a look as much as they are shopping for something that lets them create a look.

The Tie Dye Swing TankThe Tie-Dye Swing Tank is one example. It pulls together contemporary style with a simplified two-color tie-dye (not the bright rainbow colors of yesteryear). The effect adds a modern element while keeping the distressed look intact. It looks much more urban than beach, but works in either setting. Great for a place like Los Angeles.

The tank also carries a swoop neck line and racer back. The material is loose and comfortable, but accented with the right jacket adds even more versatility. I know because this was the tank one of my friends showed me as her example as of what's ahead. (Retail $48.)

The Spray Wash Sweatshirt The Spray Wash Sweatshirt works the same way. The relaxed fit with a scoop neck and mineral wash design lends well to something seen on the beaches or even a rugged environment. For the latter, a denim jacker might be the right match until the weather warms up. Or on coastal beaches, it's still loose enough to use as a pullover.

The sweatshirt comes in two colors, blue and gold. The blue seems more universal. You would probably need a deeper skin tone to make the gold really work. The sweatshirt is 50 percent cotton, 50 percent polyester blend. (Retail $74.)

The Lace Panel TeeThe Lace Panel Tee also carries a scoop neck and follows the underlying theme. At the same time, it highlights one of the interesting ideas Vintage Havana introduced for late spring, early summer. Lace isn't just meant to be provocative; the sheer side panels keep things cool. Sheer is the right word; none of it looks to be heavily layered Victorian.

Several other designs rely on lace too. Some include lace backs and others, like some tanks, create a camisole effect (the lace rests over a soft under lining). The one shown is made of rayon with less than 5 percent Spandex. The lace also adds a design element, with one-quarter of the back exposed. (Retail $54.)

Vintage Havana Relaxes Spring Fashion With A 4.5 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Vintage Havana has several other ideas in mind. Many of them carry camo and other muted colors. Even the few neon striped tanks and tops are offset with grey and/or distressed lines, giving the clothes more character than overtly neutral and boring apparel. Some of them even have stylings reminiscent of the late 80s, but without the loud pastel colors or heavily layered lace.

Previous designs by Vintage Havana were much bolder, with deep, loud colors and heavily embroidered patches and designs. While I can only guess, some ideas seem inspired by Chianese's experience as a shopper for European boutique in Beach Haven.

You can find any of the Vintage Havana designs at the National Jean Company. The National Jean Company started in the early 1990s as a denim store, but now carries 100 brands for women and children.
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