In 2009, the High Line opened to the public in Manhattan. The park, a raised rail bed that formerly serviced the West Side’s manufacturing base, has not only become a destination for city dweller and tourist alike, but also a magnet for development. Stunning new architecture and recycled industrial spaces frame a recession-defying stampede of new galleries and restaurants. Retail is following, creeping uptown from the Meatpacking District, NYC’s most recently gentrified locale.
Appropriately enough, Luis Fernandez, a trained architect and fashion designer with a distinctly urban sensibility, opened the first retail location for his Number:Lab collection within steps of the High Line, pioneering a 10th Avenue block in the West 20s last November. The shop functions as both retail space and showroom, and will soon be neighbored by a Coach flagship store.
Fernandez started Number:Lab in 2005 as a colorful T-shirt collection with a minimalist graphic sensibility while he was still working as an architect. [Editor's note: in the interest of full disclosure, Fernandez and my life partner worked together at the time.] The line evolved and has been a fully realized collection for four seasons now.
Fernandez, along with business partner Greg Lawrance, has taken Seventh Avenue by storm, the brand recently being accepted into the CFDA’s Fashion Incubator program, starting this May through May 2014. They were also finalists for this year’s Fashion Group International Rising Star award. The duo has recently taken a firm stand on made in the USA product, as well, manufacturing most of the collection’s wovens and outerwear pieces in the Garment Center, while importing knitwear from a Peruvian source with whom they have a longstanding relationship.
“My mission for Number:Lab,” says Fernandez, “has been to seamlessly meld the concepts of technology and tailored, and to bring athletic details into everyday sportswear. It’s based on the concepts of form and function that come from my training in architecture.”
Lawrance emphasizes that, although the collection uses high-tech fabrics and treatments, “We always want to look sophisticated and tailored — this isn’t an outdoor collection like RLX or North Face.”
The brand has met with retail success as well, carried by Saks, Bloomingdale’s and Scoop, as well as Paragon, Kitson, LASC and retailers in Canada, Japan, Dubai and Ireland.
Number:Lab will show their fall 2012 collection during New York Fashion Week on Thursday, February 9th.