A Retrospective of New York Fashion Week’s Newest Designer
et.i.quette \'etikit\ (n): A code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior.
With so many fashion trends abounding in the modern world, it can be quite an uphill climb for designers to gain even slight recognition or at least a mild foothold within their own industry. Eric Renteria, proprietor, at Etiquette Vintage Design, took on such an impassioned challenge in creating a clothing company that has aimed to capture some of the most classic eras couture has ever known.
"For me, that's one of the most important keys to keeping a line going, a focus on timeless, enduring flair," says Renteria, referring not only to clothing, but also to attitude. "It's how Brandyn, my business partner, and I were raised: a good code of morals, amidst a hectic society. We find it strange to see men not opening doors for women,” he continues, “We're both Southern gentleman.” That being said, Etiquette Vintage Design was never meant to be just about apparel. It was conceived with an aim to remind people of how there are few things cooler than decorum, politeness and being respectful to one another.
Named for behavior guided by rules of social conduct and refined decorum, the burgeoning company has recently been able to stand out amid many of its peers mainly due to its clean simplicity, its quiet approach and its reflection of a humbler time—namely 1950s America. Because the basic templates are rooted in this era, Etiquette structured a foundation upon which it could easily adapt to each year's coming trends and colors.
However, keeping up with the ever-evolving face of apparel is not where Etiquette Vintage Design’s main interests lie. "We both decided early on to stay true to our values and to attire people in something we ourselves would wear. Not what we think others will or won't like," states Brandyn Balmos, public relations and marketing strategist for Etiquette. "Eric and I constantly keep our ears to the ground, as far as this business goes. But we're not swayed by what's currently hip. Hip came to us, through no premeditated effort on our part."
The original color-scheme ideas were actually derived from the vivid paints used on classic automobiles of the 1950s and 1960s. Commencing with the desire to use only true vintage materials (even including a particular sweater's backstory when sent to a buyer), Renteria still enjoys digging for those one-of-a-kind pieces. However, they can become extremely difficult to come by because only so many were made.
Though Etiquette is proud of the time period of which it currently represents, the startup wants to delve into other fashion eras as well. Nearest the top of the list: the Roaring ’20s. Because Renteria begins his designs with what is often already familiar to the public by simply altering certain pieces, even minimally by adding patches, brightly colored piping and more, there is always an avenue to create something original and to keep moving forward.
The Amarillo-born designer pays impeccable attention to each piece's fit. He says, “A contoured look, especially in men's blazers, has always been important to us. It's how we, ourselves, dress. So, why give anything less than the same to a client? Men can feel great confidence from clothing if they're paying attention. For women's attire, namely skirts, it's about fun. It's about a carefree spirit and dancing to Buddy Holly in the springtime. That sense of unruffled enjoyment is where a self-assured woman is found," says Renteria. A base tenet of Etiquette is “vintage style with a modern twist and fit.” There is a deep enthusiasm for clothing of great heritage—and for adapting that clothing to exist in the present age of apparel—that makes Etiquette's endeavor both challenging and exciting.
Aside from being published in several well-known magazines, including Playboy and VOGUE Italia, the line was also invited to take part in New York's Fashion Week this past February—an opportunity that was simultaneously unexpected and humbling. With Renteria being a new-to-the-scene designer, it allowed him to meet with other like-minded creators who have been in the fashion world for some time. "There's always something to learn in an environment like that. It opens your eyes to the larger world and allows you to better understand your industry a bit more," he says. "At the start of this company, we took on any opportunity we could, to gain some ground. We'd even create our own events. It was an absolute honor to be invited to something that we'd always heard about, but only dreamed of attending."
Since its inception two years ago, the Etiquette team has devoted their time to garnering as much press and recognition as possible to attract potential buyers. It's what has allowed the Texas-based entrepreneurs to more efficiently connect with industry heavy-hitters that would have, otherwise, possibly been out of reach. With new promotional ideas in play, Etiquette is devoted to progression, with a sturdy foot loyally planted in the fashions that have come before it.
Creating practical, functional designs that people can wear for either special occasions, parties and even just out on the town is what Etiquette intends to do. The designs have been in such high demand, not merely because they're eye-catching and comfortable, but because they are fantastic conversation pieces. "Eric or I won't go a day without somebody asking about a sweater or blazer either of us have on," says Balmos.
As with any business venture, there is usually room for growth and change. For the guys at Etiquette, reinvention can occur in many ways, and it doesn't have to entail a complete overhaul. Sometimes, something as simple as expanding with new accessories, say, bow ties, can direct a line toward broader horizons. According to Balmos, it's really about not getting bored with what you're doing. It's about maintaining a zest, a passion, for what's being created or pursued. And, most often, even the smallest amount of headway can help to perpetuate that fire and hopefully to lead people into a new feeling of confidence and charm.