BY MACAELA MACKENZIE
Joyce Azria isn’t your average fashion empire heiress. At age 8, she was watching astutely as her parents launched what would become mega-brand BCBG; at 14, she was a full-fledged member of the family business, shuttling her parents to meetings with buyers, suppliers, and business partners; straight out of college, she made it official, joining the BCBG portfolio of brands as a swimwear designer; and in 2009, she took over as creative director for BCBGeneration, the little sister label with a mind to speak to the savvy, young 20somethings Azria embodied. Now, she’s striking out on her own with a particularly disruptive label aimed at the millennial shopper.
“I think whenever you’re meant to create something, everything sort of clicks and pushes you towards that,” Azria tells Allure. “Me and Avec les Filles were meant to be.”
Her new brand Avec les Filles is poised to become the new BFF of both the "It" girl and the every girl, combining trendy credos like high-low styling and boutique experiences at Forever 21 prices. As the name—French for “with the girls”—might suggest, Avec les Filles is decidedly Parisian in its sartorial approach to style, which covers clothes, shoes, accessories, and fine jewelry. “I love Sandro, I love Maje, I love Givenchy, but they are so high-end that I just thought, ‘I want a brand that brings me in at 18 bucks and is a little easier to digest,’” Azria says. “What I strive to do with Avec les Filles is allow her to indulge in an experience that’s designer-led and authentic, but still fun and playful.”
It’s not often that we come across brands that take a fashion girl’s high-low styling approach and inject it into their DNA—an opportunity to cater to the splurge-meets-steal mentality that Azria pounced on. “I’m looking around and thinking here are all these girls with Chanel bags from Tradesy paired with $50 clothes from Zara. And no one was really catering to that,” Azria says of the idea that eventually inspired her label. “A brand can be so much more expansive than being confined to a price.”
True to Azria’s word, the line starts at $18 and ranges all the way up to $595 for the more luxuriously crafted and covetable pieces—think #OOTD-worthy limited edition Made in France tweed jacket for $278 and chic striped tees for $28.
Second only to Avec Les Filles styling chops is the company’s business strategy. In addition to the online launch of the brand at Aveclesfilles.com on February 8 and at Revolve.com in March, Azria decided to eschew the direct-to-consumer-only model that’s been the darling of future-of-retail focused designers. “Direct-to-consumer models allow brands to kind of date their customer,” she says. “The problem is it doesn’t lead to marriage.” In addition to the online sales, Avec Les Filles will launch in Macy’s stores around the country. “On the East Coast and West Coast, sure you’re superconnected [online], but all around America you have girls that just want to go shopping with their friends," says Azria. "Their local Macy’s is everything to them.”
Azria is no stranger to the world of startups—she did grow up in one, after all—but launching her own brand outside of the family portfolio feels much closer to heart. “When you launch a new line [under an existing brand], you’re just adding a limb to a heart that’s already beating,” she says. “The level of dedication and love and emotion is a very different experience when you’re starting your own brand. You’re starting from your passion and building it into the soul of the brand.”
Azria’s soul is evident in Avec Les Filles’ style. To give her brand a beating heart, she looked straight into the heads and hearts of the women she’s trying to win over. “I’m always enamored by a woman’s point of view about the way she dresses,” she says. “I like people and I like how they bring their personality and their twist to clothes. Ten girls can wear the same top ten different ways.” With Avec Les Filles, it’s exactly that kind of soulful sartorialism that you’ll want to try.