Growing up in Hong Kong and Los Angeles, Creatures of Comfort founder Jade Lai was plunged into the fashion vanguard at a young age. Her father owned a fashion company, while her mother's closet was full of Yohji Yamamoto and Jil Sander. After studying environmental design in college, Lai skipped around the art and design world, producing fashion shows and dabbling in painting. After a corporate stint in Hong Kong, she moved back to L.A. to launch the original Creatures of Comfort boutique in 2005, where she carries buzzed-about brands like AESA and Mociun, alongside Isabel Marant, Alexander Wang, and Rachel Comey.
This September, Lai plans to open her first store in New York — a former police precinct on Mulberry Street — and introduce her second-ever Creatures of Comfort collection (preview pics of the fall looks after the jump). We caught up with the bicoastal designer to talk about the new boutique, New York apartment hunting, and the resurgence of long skirts.
How will the upcoming New York store differ from the L.A. outpost?
It's going to be more of a lifestyle store. We're adding menswear, housewares, and books. There's also a gallery space where we'll host artist projects.
Do you have a certain aesthetic in mind when you buy for Creatures of Comfort?
I don't look for things that are super-trendy; I look for great quality and a clear design concept. Functionality is really important to me.
Why did you launch the Creatures of Comfort label?
It's about re-creating a girl's favorite basics, like jersey tanks and silk skirts. My goal is to make simple silhouettes in beautiful fabrics — clothes that last forever.
Who are your favorite designers?
I like Christian Wijnants a lot, and Bernhard Willhelm. But my all-time favorite designer is Dries Van Noten; it's my ultimate goal to carry him in the store. I clean out my closet every year, but his designs never go out of style.
Where do you like to shop in New York?
Maryam Nassir Zadeh is great for accessories, and I love all the great cowboy stuff at Western Spirit in Tribeca. I've been hunting for a crazy jacket and turquoise jewelry.
How would you describe your personal style?
Eclectic. Lately I've been wearing a lot of linen tank tops with high-waisted white jeans or long skirts.
What trends are you appreciating right now?
Longer silhouettes. Also, the return of minimalist fashion, because I like to accessorize. I just bought a bunch of African beads in L.A., which I've been piling on.
What trends are you ready to see retired?
The neon, super-eighties hipster trend.
What's one thing you're saving up to buy?
A condo in New York. I've been looking in Chinatown and Little Italy — it's a little out of my price range.
What should every woman have in her closet?
A perfect white button-up shirt.
What about men?
A nice T-shirt, like RRL.
What's something you never leave the house without?
A spritz of Frederic Malle Une Rose perfume. I wear fragrances for, like, eight years, then I get sick of them and switch. Before this, it was Flower by Kenzo.