In a fast-paced, constantly-changing fashion industry, designers often feel pressure to do more: more collections, more collaborations, more social media, more noise. Stephanie Danan and Justin Kern’s approach for Co is quite the opposite: slow, steady, and “quiet,” as Danan put it on a recent call. “We sort of hide in L.A.,” she said with a laugh. “We’re growing at a rate that feels really comfortable and allows us to perfect what we do, and it’s created really loyal customers because it’s grounded in reality. It isn’t all loudness and press and this and that.”
The takeaway is that those customers are super engaged. Danan and Kern are happy to collect their feedback: When fans asked for more of Co’s simple, elevated basics—puff-sleeved shirtdresses, wide-leg trousers, poplin blouses, etc.—the duo created Co Essentials, a line of core pieces that won’t disappear after a single season and can be paired back to the fashion-forward stuff in their main collections. Their customers’ next requests were for luxe, everyday accessories to complete the look. “Our women were coming to us and saying, ‘What we find in your clothes—the clean-lined approach, the practicality, and the really strong price point—we can’t find in accessories,’” Danan said. “We wanted to create a line of accessories that fulfilled the same values as our ready-to-wear.”
They started with handbags, a development process that began nearly two years ago. The first styles debuted on Co’s site (quietly!) earlier this week: a concise selection of bucket bags, slim totes, and cross-bodies, all in luxe Italian leather or canvas. With minimal gold hardware and sleek lines, they’re simple and versatile, but not lacking character: A few bags come in glossy, croc-embossed chocolate or black leather, and there’s a standout ivory bucket bag with subtle matelassé quilting. Unlike the sleek, hard-edged bags we’re seeing elsewhere on the market, these have a touch of softness, lending themselves to being slung over your shoulder or gently crushed under your arm.