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Our most recent memory of Eddie Bauer, the Americana heritage brand with locations in every mall from Anchorage to Tokyo, dates back to fourth grade, when every “cool” kid in the class had a Bauer backpack emblazoned with their initials (our initials sadly spell EEW, so we passed on this particular trend). But it seems that the 95 year-old, Seattle-based company is about to return to our lexicon once again now that superstylist Ilaria Urbinati — the lady responsible for Bradley Cooper, Shailene Woodley and James Marsden‘s sartorial swag — has partnered up with the retailer on a capsule menswear collection.
Set to debut in October 2015, the 28-piece line will feature a smattering of updated classics inspired by the outdoorsy history and vibe of the company — think fair isle sweaters, chinos, parkas and other various lumberjack-friendly pieces that happen to have Urbinati’s modern, sophisticated sensibility woven in.
“I’ve always been obsessed with Americana and heritage wear,” Urbinati tells Pret-a-Reporter. “When I decided I wanted to do a men’s collaboration, Eddie Bauer was actually the first brand that popped into my head. They were literally at the top of my list to reach out to — I wanted to work with an American sportswear brand with a rich history. I love that Eddie Bauer patented the first down jacket, and that they dressed the first man to ever climb Mount Everest.”
Though this is her first major retail collaboration, the L.A.-based stylist is no stranger to menswear, with her now-shuttered Los Feliz boutique Confederacy consistently being touted as one of the most important men’s fashion destinations in the city during its five-year run. But still, she says she relied on the expertise of Bauer’s design team during her six months of monthly visits to Seattle headquarters.
“When I would be like, ‘I don’t want the thingy on the thingy,’ they would be like, ‘you mean the storm flap?’ It was honestly the perfect team effort.”
The pairing might seem a little random to those who still think of Eddie Bauer as sleeping bags and mom’s power-walking pullovers, but the brand is actually one of the few remaining, untapped parcel’s of heritage brand reinvention — with the likes of historically similar Pendleton, Gant and Red Wing Shoes among the Americana labels having already gone through a cool factor metamorphosis.
“Even though they are such a huge brand, there was room for an update to target a more style conscious demographic,” Urbinati says. “I really wanted them to know that I wasn’t trying to reinvent their image, that I would stay true to what they stand for as a brand, which is a real spirit of adventure, wearability, and American sportswear — just done for a cool, young, fashion-aware dude.”
Though the initial collection (which will officially debut at a Sundance cocktail party later this month) will be for guys only (not that we don’t plan on stealing sweaters from our men), Urbinati says that there has indeed already been talk of a women’s line down the road. “Write your letters!” she jokes.
As for that iconic Bauer book bag that played such a vital role in our youth, we had to ask — did Urbinati own one, too?
“I didn’t,” she says. “I didn’t own a lot of Eddie Bauer growing up because I grew up in Europe. But I did have the Eddie Bauer Edition Ford Explorer after high school.”
And the stylist wins again.
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