Here at KiC, we live for the summer. So when we had the opportunity to meet Julia Leach, designer of Chance, a line basically devoted to summer essentials (and everything striped), we were excited. Leach, who was executive vice president and creative director at Kate Spade before she launched her own line a year ago, embodies a laid-back coastal vibe with her long blond hair and equally long legs. She is thoughtful, incredibly easygoing, and her inspiration comes from a love of adventure, travel and simplicity in style. (Who doesn’t want to be sitting on a beach somewhere in a Chance striped tee?) Last week Chance opened their first pop-up shop in Barneys. While Leach received a lot of coverage about her collection, we wanted to find out more about the woman behind the brand.
What is it about a striped T-shirt? It’s that the striped T-shirt telegraphs a bigger idea beyond being a piece of clothing. Very few garments communicate a world or notion, but the striped T-shirt does. It conjures up a sense of adventure, design, simplicity and personal style, values that anchor Chance and my point of view on living and dressing. I’ve had so many people tell me stories about their favorite striped T-shirt since I launched the business–there’s an emotional attachment to it, a romance.
Your California beach attire vs. New York beach look. In California, I pull out my old Levi’s cut-off shorts and wear them with one of my boyfriend’s old Turnbull & Asser button-down shirts over a black Tomas Maier bikini. Flat leather sandals and a straw hat finish it off. In New York, I’m usually in a Chance henley (one of my favorite styles) and a pair of Theory shorts from a stack I’ve accumulated over the years. Again, the black bikini. I’m not a big collector of sunglasses, I have two in rotation, an Oliver Peoples silver frame aviator and Tom Ford aviators with a gold frame.
Five things you cannot travel without:
1. A pair of Manolo Blahnik dark brown leather flat sandals I’ve had for at least 10 years. They’re perfect and have stood the test of time. They go everywhere with me.
2. White jeans year-round. I like Madewell’s Skinny Skinny.
3. A beloved denim jacket from 45 rpm, great for dressing up and down, as well as dealing with the temperature changes that accompany travel.
4. A LaFCO Cucumber Thyme mini candle–it brings a touch of home to any hotel room.
5. A good book is essential. This summer it’s There & Then: The Travel Writing of James Salter, my favorite author.
6. I know this makes six, but music is so important to me. I’m constantly making playlists and they become associated with certain places and adventures.
A Chance fragrance would smell like….Honeysuckle and jasmine with a subtle note of lemon. The fragrance would be a collision of sensual/velvety, lightness/sunshine and West Coast/East Coast…like a walk through Beachwood Canyon in LA or along the beach on the North Fork in the evening when the flowers are in full bloom.
Summer means….Tan legs, Essie Imported Champagne on my toes, J. Crew tuxedo shirts from the boys department with black crepe shorts and strappy sandals. Watching nature TV and bike riding upstate, dinners on the terrace in LA, sharing crisp, cold Sancerre with friends, fresh corn on the cob with lots of lime, kiddie cones with a double-dip of butterscotch, a sense of freedom and possibility, and Chance.
Julia photographed by Andrew Paynter