When Stanwells met Smythe: The Interview
Smythe co-founders Andrea Lenczner (right) & Christie Smythe (left)
For those of you who have been keeping up to date with our ‘new arrivals’ section, you’ll know that Canadian brand Smythe has returned to Stanwells with a bang for AW18, with power blazers and modern tailoring that you won’t find anywhere else. We’ve been lucky enough to chat with co-founders Andrea Lenczner and Christie Smythe to delve deeper into the world of sartorial elegance they have created….
Hi Andrea & Christie, thank you so much for taking the time to give us an insight into the world of Smythe. Let’s start at the beginning – what inspired you to launch Smythe back in 2004?
A: We first launched SMYTHE because we couldn’t find a casual, yet novel, blazer. In other words, the equivalent to a men’s sports jacket. We talked about how the blazer was a transformative piece of clothing that pulled together a whole look. Back in the early 2000s, if you wanted to wear a blazer with a pair of jeans or over a dress, it came as part of a suit.
What were both of your backgrounds before you set up Smythe?
A: After my MBA, I started my career as a banker but quickly realized it was not my passion. It took me a while, but I eventually left finance to break into the fashion industry (my true love) and eventually became a buyer at Holt Renfrew, a high-end department store, here in Canada.
C: I took a more traditional path into the fashion business. I studied Fashion and Merchandising at Parsons School of Design in New York. After my degree, I worked in product development in the NYC design offices of The Gap.
A: Before starting SMYTHE we both had incredible experience in different areas of the fashion industry. We had always discussed a creative venture and when the time was right, we went for it!
How did you settle on the name ‘SMYTHE’ seeing as there have been 2 of you from the very beginning?
C: When we were considering our branding we thought “SMYTHE” sounded sartorial and British. We knew tailoring would play a big role in our collection and we liked the association. Andrea never had an ego about using my last name.
Did you ever imagine that your designs would gain a cult-status following with the likes of Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton sporting the brand on a regular basis?
C: It is such an honour that all kinds of women choose to buy and wear our pieces. Whether that’s to a Royal appearance, a red carpet premiere, boardroom meeting or the school drop off-line, its all flattering given all the choice out there.
How do you see Smythe evolving over the next few years?
C: We will continue to develop a full collection including, knits, dresses, bottoms, suiting, outerwear…
A: We keep working to surprise our customers. Stay tuned!
Are there any other designers out there that influence or inspire you and your creations?
A: Influence is so hard to pin down. It comes from everywhere and is not always conscious. We are inspired by nature, friends, vintage, lifestyle and most importantly, textiles. We are definitely inspired by the Designer world and follow fashion closely. As a contemporary brand we see it as our duty to filter out the zeitgeist and perhaps make it a touch more relatable.
Do you have a favourite piece from the new AW18 collection and if so, what makes it so special?
C: I love the A-Line Multi Sweater that is hand knit by the Augden women’s collective in Bolivia. I also love the Buff Leopard Coat, it’s such a beautiful peachy shade for a leopard print.
A: The Pull-on Pant with the above mentioned knit. I will be wearing it for all my crazy fall travel days. They’re so polished yet comfortable.
What do you recommend pairing the ever-popular Duchess Blazer with for a smart/casual everyday look?
A: The Duchess Blazer remains one of our best-selling styles. We think it resonates with the customer because it is so versatile and can be worn so many ways. Different people wear it differently. The most current merchandising would be belted with a fanny pack over a bike short!
C: I wear mine over a t-shirt and high waisted jeans
A: I wear mine over a flowy loose dress and ankle boots. This season they will be cowboy boots.
How would you describe your own personal style in 3 words?
C: Classic, “East-coast”, (not too) Preppy
A: Modern, progressive, (not too) Polished.
Finally, what are your aspirations for the Smythe label over the next five years?
A: World domination!
Thank you so much to Andrea & Christie for chatting with us and we look forward to seeing what Smythe comes up with next! Take a look at the fabulous Smythe collection here…