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Pat and Matt

Two fashion designers with local roots talk about growing their brands

by Erin Pihlaja on September 25, 2013

 

Paris Hilton posted a photo of herself wearing Dilascia on Instagram. Photo courtesy of Dilascia's.

My dream was always to have a BMW convertible, and live in L.A. like Kelly Taylor,” says Patrick DiLascia, owner of the clothing brand Dilascia, and Par-LA, his West Hollywood store. Dilascia may not be quite in the 90210 zip code yet, but he is enjoying the success that his clothing line has reached.

“We’re in 137 stores, and in four countries,” he says. “We’re carried by Kitson, Bloomingdale’s, Fred Segel, and Nordstrom.” The last retail giant just recently made an “all-store” buy of the Dilascia line. Celebrities Paris Hilton, Nick Swardson, and Daniel Sunjata have all been photographed wearing his clothes.

Dilascia launched his career in Albany. “My cell number still has a 518 area code; I keep it real. It’s a conversation starter,” Dilascia laughs. “L.A. is a bigger Albany. I feel like I’m on Lark Street.”

It was after he graduated college, in January 2001, that Dilascia opened a menswear store called Ego. “When we talk about being on Lark Street , it’s where I started my whole career, it was such a fun four years,” he recalls.

Afterwards he got a job as a buyer for Cohoes, which was later bought out by Burlington Coat Factory. Dilascia was scooped up by the new owners and promoted to men’s buyer for the entire chain. He was making good money, and then his mother died suddenly.

“I realized I wasn’t living my dream,” he says. He packed up to move to Los Angeles with very little money and not many plans.

He managed to show a small line of clothes in a downtown showroom, but his line didn’t officially launch until February 2009, at Magic, a Las Vegas trade show.

“Kitson was the first order we ever got,” he says. “It’s a celebrity-based store in L.A., it’s really important.” By the end of the show Dilascia had placed orders with 70 stores.

Still, there was a waiting period between that moment and the line fully supporting itself. Dilascia found work at a corporate retail store to make ends meet.

Dilascia says that this past year marked the company’s biggest growth yet. They’ve expanded into a women’s and children’s line, but they still keep things simple. Their bread and butter is their T-shirt division.

“‘Do one thing and do it right,’ my brother told me,” he says. “I was all over the place. I had an 80-piece collection the first season out. We scaled back and we’ve evolved, it’s humongous.”

Dilascia says that he’s received some expert advice along the way. “I was at a bar and I met Marc Jacobs. He said, ‘You’re going to have a lot of struggle. If you don’t give up it will happen.’ I never let go of the dream.”

As for that BMW convertible? He says, “Kelly Taylor drove a 3 series. I drive a 6.”

When Metroland interviewed Matt Baumgartner last year about the launch of his menswear line, Howes & Baum, he was just getting started. He had developed many ideas with his partner since they first came up with the line in 2012, and they had a few key pieces to show, but it was still a work in progress. Today, his line is in 22 stores and four countries.

“It’s a slow build,” he says. “We just finished Spring/Summer ’14, and this is what we consider our first legit show, our full collection. There are 20 different styles, many of which come in three to four colors.”

Howes & Baum is inspired by rustic workwear, and their long johns are their best seller. Baumgartner says that they’ve kept the long johns this season, but also added fall knits and sweaters to the mix.

He says that the distributing the line is “all about building relationships,” and that while he hasn’t made it into Barney’s or Neiman Marcus yet, he has met with their buyers and has gotten positive feedback. Celebrities Susan Sarandon, James Van Der Beek, Jonathan Cheban, and Lucy Liu have all been spotted in Howes & Baum gear.

But that doesn’t mean that Baumgartner isn’t still a home town guy. Just recently, he set up a Howes & Baum booth on Lark Street for Lark Fest. “So many people stopped by and we sold a lot of clothes,” he says. “It was really great being face-to-face with the customers.”