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Profile in Style | Stephanie Beard

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Women’s clothing with a menswear sensibility. That’s what Austin designer Stephanie Beard set out to create in the inaugural collection esby (said like the phonetic pronunciation of “SB,” Beard’s initials), her first clothing line, which offers timeless, season-less pieces for women that emphasize comfort and proper fit.

Originally from North Carolina, Beard moved to New York in 2003, and gained a technical background in the children’s design department at Tommy Hilfiger. From there, she went on to work at Levi’s and eventually Converse, where she spent the majority of her New York career in the menswear department. “I worked a lot on the Converse One Star line, which is sold at Target,” Beard explains. “Being involved in the whole process, from fabrics and wash to factory communication, I really focused on what you could do to get as much value as possible in a piece of clothing.” After five years at Converse, Beard left the East Coast in 2012, in search of a place that would allow her to live more affordably and throw all her energy (and savings) into her own clothing line, an idea that had been simmering in the back of her mind for years. Enter Austin.

At home, Beard speaks with an easy drawl about her own style. Her daily “uniform,” she explains, is a mix of comfort, proper fit, and a handful of specific pieces that she’s overly sentimental about: for example, a light and perfectly versatile chambray shirt; high-waisted skinny jeans that she pairs with a blousy top or tunic; a couple of Australian-discovered basics that just have, she says, “the best weight.”

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Her one-bedroom apartment in southeast Austin, which she shares with her boyfriend, Nick Boyles, is similarly utilitarian. “Simple can still be interesting,” she says. And at 650 square feet (“believe me, it feels huge compared to the 250-square-foot place I lived in before this”), Beard has made the most of it, creating a home that feels consistent with her design principles. “In New York, I had a friend build me some great reclaimed-shelving units that are the central part of the living space,” she explains. Many of the pieces inside have a similar provenance, made either by friends or by Beard. The neutrality of the wood furniture is balanced by a healthy number of plants (Beard rattles off: “I’m obsessed with desert plants, clay-textured pieces, cactus, succulents . . .”) and textiles, vintage or purchased from “seriously weird rug websites,” like the gorgeous white-and-dark-brown-patterned Moroccan rug in her bedroom.

It’s this same mix of personality and function that drives esby, which Beard funded in March through a Kickstarter campaign. This allowed her to quit her day job at STAG and dive into her dream—the first run of her line is being produced in a small factory in New Orleans and will be released in boutiques and on her website this summer. And despite the line’s underlying simplicity, esby isn’t just for the minimalist: “Busy women need to feel confident in what they’re wearing,” Beard says. “It takes me fifteen minutes to get ready and feel good because everything that I’m wearing just fits! That’s what I’m about—cutting out what’s unnecessary and figuring out what works.” Learn more about Stephanie, follow the development of esby, and preorder season one of her collection at esbyapparel.com.

Credits

Photography by Wynn Myers

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