How the Staud Founders Built a Brand
In an open and spacious Los Angeles studio populated by about 30 people and almost as many dogs, Sarah Staudinger and George Augusto run their freshly minted fashion house. The duo behind Staud have gone from relative unknowns to something like industry wonderkids in the course of three years, attracting fans and investors to their crisp, brightly colored collections.
You may already be acquainted with the styles that put Staud on the map—even if you don't yet know they're Staud. The clear PVC Shirley bag with its equally sleek interior pouch that's all over Instagram. The fishnet bucket Moreau that's now a modern classic among trendsetters. Then there are the wide-legged jumpsuits in an array of styles that are the cool girl's solution to summer dressing.
"Leandra Medine has definitely been a huge one for us. Alexa Chung. Dakota Johnson was a big supporter early on," says Staudinger (whose colleagues just call her Staud), listing early admirers of the brand. "Those three people are exciting for us because they have very different styles with unique points of view. That's really important to us to have people interpret our designs in their own way."
A former Reformation fashion director, Staudinger saw space in the fashion market for contemporary but classic pieces that left an impression without seriously denting the pocketbook. She approached Augusto, who ran an artist incubator in LA and whom she knew through mutual friends, about helping with brand marketing. Soon after launching, their handbag styles were getting the kind of attention from style stars and street photographers that's usually reserved for big-ticket bags.
"One of the things that we're most proud of is that we were seeing the woman who buys a $3,000 Fendi bag also buying our $375 Moreau bag," Augusto says. "It's been very organic how it all came about," he says of their popularity among the fashion fold. "We're really thankful for that and we're definitely appreciative to how much support we get from influencers."
"Each bag comes from a shape, first and foremost. Whether it's a sculpture or just an element that we were really inspired by for that season," Staudinger says about their inspirations. "We kind of round most of our edges and it's very much kind of fluid, sort of structure that we gravitate towards." Alberto Giacometti, Constantin Brâncuși and César Manrique are all artists that the two agree are mutual influences. "We love Brâncuși a lot," Staudinger attests.
From a handbag line to a complete ready-to-wear collection, the brand's growth has been rapid. Staud appeals to fashion lovers of different means and aesthetics because each piece is a novel interpretation of a traditional design. What the Shirley did for a tote bag, the Catch jumpsuit does for a two-piece suit. One could build an essential wardrobe out of just Staud styles and it would feel anything but basic. The bags are obviously sculptural; the clothes are strikingly shapely, too. Voluminous sleeves, fringe, cut-outs, billowing skirts appear in a spring collection that picks up Joan Miró's palette.
"We've been adding to what we consider core every season," says Staudinger about the label's expansion. "Definitely the Moreau bag is one that I would say that we will keep on the line for the foreseeable future. That kind of style really encapsulates what the brand is about: it's a unique design, it has a lot of functionality, it has sort of vintage-inspired elements with the macramé net and leather details. It feels really on brand for us."