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2012 May 21

Chance's Julia Leach on Travel, Dream Collabs, and a Barneys Pop-up

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(NEW YORK) Fasten your seatbelts and make sure your tray tables are in the upright and locked position. Former Kate Spade creative director Julia Leach is taking flight with the second collection from her travel-ready lifestyle brand Chance, founded in 2010. This Wednesday, Barneys New York will unveil their in-store Chance pop-up along with the latest California-inspired batch of Spring/Summer '12 signature boatnecks, tees, dresses, pull-on chords, beach towels, and totes. Additional apparel, straw hats, foutas, stationary, and a jewelry collaboration with Kate Jones will be available online. With the jetset-apropos apparel collection made in Peru (known for its high-quality cotton) and priced below $150, and accessories produced on U.S. soil, odds are this brand is in for a pretty smooth landing...
BY MARIA DENARDO 

What's new for Summer 2012?
We're debuting a limited-edition striped shirt with artist Elliott Puckette that will launch in June. It really fits in nicely with our California theme. She's one of my best girlfriends, and I find that working with friends is so fulfilling. I'm blessed to be surrounded by creative people who always ask me how they can help. There are no egos. They're just there to see Chance thrive.

What catapulted Chance to the next level?
Doing the first pop-up on Elizabeth Street at the launch last spring, definitely. And having Barneys ask me to do a pop-up for them in their New York and L.A. stores. It all happened so organically, and I liked that Barneys recognized that Chance is more than just a striped t-shirt because I didn't want it to be another brand with t-shirts on the rack. We're a multi-category brand that's all about creativity, simplicity, and travel.

When was the last time you took a chance?
Buying a book about Spain for a friend of mine who has everything. It's her birthday! I love gift giving, but I'm hoping she doesn't have this book already.

You created a short film with director Andrew Paynter called California Saturday. What's your typical Saturday look like in the Golden State?
My California Saturday is usually spent with my boyfriend Glen, who lives there. We take a hike up the Shakespeare Bridge, go to the Hollywood Farmer's Market, and then go to Skylight Books. By noon, we drive up to Santa Barbara to see friends who often host a lunch by the creek. We make it back around 5 p.m. and head to our favorite date night sushi restaurant. Our California weekends are about nature, adventure, friendship, and being by the ocean.

What music do you like to listen to on your travels?
I've been pretty consumed with the launch at Barneys this week, but music is a big thing for me no matter how busy I am. I recently discovered a musician named Lord Huron. The music is really good; it sounds sort of Caribbean. It's great to soundtrack an adventure. 

Favorite hotels?
There's a hotel south of Puerto Vallarta that's called Verana. It's magical. You take a boat to Puerto Vallarta to a little town where you take another little boat to a dock. Then they put your bags on donkeys and you have to hike up a hill. The hotel is a compilation of eight or nine houses--they're not really grand like a villa--but they're beautifully decorated. The owners were set designers in Hollywood, so they really thought of every little detail.

Which haute spot has the best hotel amenity?
I stayed at the Thunderbird Hotel in Marfa, and they have free bicycles, which are fantastic for getting around the small town. I loved biking over to the Chinati Foundation and Donald Judd's personal home in the dry heat along the single lane roads. I didn't have to drive a car at any point in my four-day stay.

Are you really an avid stamp collector?
That is true. I have hundreds, but I don't buy the expensive ones and I definitely use them so that number always fluctuates. I love to write letters, which usually take about four vintage stamps in order to get up to 45 cents. That's one of the things I like so much about stamps—the combination of function and cool design. It's nerdy.

Any thrift store favorites?
I love my Amelia Earhart stamp! It's an eight-cent stamp from 1963.

You've worked with a handful of artists and musicians. Who would be on your dream team?
I'm starting to think about Greece for the next location for Chance since this is a brand about traveling the world. It would be fun to collaborate with Melia Marden and Mirabelle Marden, who spend part of the summer on Hydra, Greece. Maybe Mirabelle and Melia, who's a chef, and I could come up with a bottled juice inspired by the fruits and flowers of Greece to sell alongside the collection? Just thoughts. I'd bring Mary Matson, an illustrator and artist, along to document the trip, then make shirts, stationery, and maps out of the drawings.

What's the next step for Chance?
I'd love to do a collaboration with a hotel, especially one by the coast. I'd love to partner on uniforms or something that would influence the space. That would put a smile on my face.




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