Lafayette 148 isn’t a new name in New York fashion. The company dates to the late 1990s, and the building that it took its name from in lower Manhattan served the city’s fashion industry for decades before that, manufacturing clothes for some of American fashion’s most famous brands.
Safely chic is a useful way to think of the company’s output; it became a department store resource for well-made tailoring and adjacent categories with a clientele that ran to well-paid C-suite types. With the retail landscape and shopping habits shifting post-pandemic, though, the company is pivoting to an own-store model (seven are in the works for 2022 on top of its two New York shops), and upping the fashion quotient of its collections. There’s even a celebrity dressing strategy. Jodie Comer wore Lafayette 148 while doing press for the new season on Killing Eve, and the brand is working with an Oscar winner on a dress for the SAG Awards at the end of the month.
Creative director Emily Smith is responsible for Lafayette 148’s fashion quotient. “We’re predominantly a woman-led, women-designed. My team is mostly a bunch of girls who just love to try on clothes and see what works and what fits and love beautiful things, and that’s the sort of secret sauce,” she said at a showroom visit at the company’s Brooklyn Navy Yard headquarters. The new fall collection has the man-size overcoats, strong tailoring in lively colors, and emphasis on layering—double-breasted jacket over banker stripe shirt over turtleneck—that we’re likely to see on the runways at New York Fashion Week. There’s also an array of knits, many with fringe, including the extra-long scarves (another trending item) that accompany some looks.
Maybe the difference between Lafayette 148 then and Lafayette 148 now is the element of play. Its longtime customers don’t have to worry; there’s still safety and chic in a Lafayette 148 suit, only now it comes in both basic black and lavender with a matching chunky cashmere scarf.