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What Aritzia's NYC Team Wears to Work

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Lalena Luba, Vice President of Public Relations, wears a Wilfred jumpsuit, Isabel Marant sandals, and bracelets by Fallon and Céline.
Lalena Luba, Vice President of Public Relations, wears a Wilfred jumpsuit, Isabel Marant sandals, and bracelets by Fallon and Céline.

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Welcome to Working It, where Racked follows street style into the office. Forget pedestrian khakis and button-downs—these fashionable professionals take dress codes to a whole new dimension. Quick, somebody call HR!

Boutique chain Aritzia is something of a newcomer in the states, but is poised to make a big splash. Founded as a single shop in Vancouver back in 1984, the company now operates over 60 units across its homeland of Canada, as well as major US cities including New York, San Francisco, and Chicago (plus a solid e-shop). Its offerings run the gamut from flimsy weekend rompers to work-appropriate blazers, with an approach to trends—and pricing—that falls somewhere in the Urban Outfitters/Topshop/Zara realm.

We met up with the team running the operation here in the US at their Soho headquarters and were delighted to find an in-office pup and happy staffers genuinely excited about their day-to-day work expanding the brand stateside. Hear how they landed their gigs, the trends they just can't stomach, and what they wear to work, below.

Your closet is on fire! What three items do you save from the flames?
"I think of this more often than is probably healthy: Monique Pean necklace and earrings my husband and children got me this year for no reason, Céline bracelets, and a vintage Chanel jacket in my favorite color, poppy."

Whose wardrobe would you swap with in a heartbeat and why?
"Phoebe Philo (think of all that Chloe and Céline...)."

What is the best piece of shopping advice you've gotten?
"Without a doubt, the 24-hour rule."

Your worst fashion faux-pas?
"When I first moved to New York, I was all about bootcut pants in bad fabrics and what I like to call witchy pointy shoes—not a good look."

What do you splurge on, and what do you cheap out on?
"Shoes, shoes, shoes and I splurge on one good handbag each year. I cheap out on trendy items that aren't necessarily flattering on me."

Assuming there's no dress code in your office, where do you personally draw the "too casual for work" line?
"Sneakers. I think the right trainers look great on guys at work, but not girls."

What have you learned about the fashion industry by working at Aritzia that you wouldn't have known otherwise?
"That you can make clothing using many of same fabrics as the luxury brands at a much more appealing price point."


Gabby Sabharwal, Director of Public Relations, wears a Le Fou jumpsuit and Dries Van Noten sandals.

Your closet is on fire! What three items do you save from the flames?
"My jewelry—most of my collection is family heirlooms that have been passed down to me, so I have a strong sentimental attachment to my pieces. I wear them everyday for this very reason. My Chanel Boy Bag—it hasn't even left the box yet because I am so scared it will get ruined. A striped turtleneck from the Gap from the '80s that my mom wore when she was pregnant with me that I still wear today—such a classic, but embarrassing that it fits me perfectly."

Whose wardrobe would you swap with in a heartbeat and why?
"Kate Bosworth. She has the best of every collection and amazing accessories."

What is the best piece of shopping advice you've gotten?
"If you have to ask if you should buy it, you probably shouldn't."

Your worst fashion faux-pas?
"Liquid leggings."



Assuming there's no dress code in your office, where do you personally draw the "too casual for work" line?
"Pajamas. You can't literally roll out of bed and go to work."

How did you get your job at Aritzia?
"My life mentor, Lalena Luba, approached me about the position. Not only was I excited to be working with her again (I started my career as her intern back when I was at NYU) but the opportunity to build a brand from a PR perspective from scratch was really exciting and a challenge, not to mention that I have been shopping here since the store first opened in Soho as a pop up."

What have you learned about the fashion industry by working at Aritzia that you wouldn't have known otherwise?
"There is an ABC approach here that is fascinating. It really makes you think through each initiative from a holistic perspective."


Michaela McMahon-Dunphy, Producer, wears a Tulula top, Topshop skirt, and Alexander Wang shoes.

Your closet is on fire! What three items do you save from the flames?
"A vintage Chanel purse I got at a flea market when I was sixteen—because you could literally be wearing a trash bag and still look chic with this slung over your shoulder; a vintage fox fur coat given to me by my mother (I don't usually wear or buy fur, but there is something about this coat…I can't help but feel like a complete and total BAUWSE whenever I put it on); and black leather Frye moto boots. These have been my go-to boots for the past three years now and they are perfectly broken in—I'm still not sure how I ever survived winter before I had these."

What is the best piece of shopping advice you've gotten?
"If it looks good and you feel good wearing it—buy it."

Your worst fashion faux-pas?
"I don't believe in fashion faux-pas. If you like what you're wearing and you feel good wearing it, then do you, boo!"

Assuming there's no dress code in your office, where do you personally draw the "too casual for work" line?
"Keep it PG13. Nothing too short and nothing too see-through."

What have you learned about the fashion industry by working at Aritzia that you wouldn't have known otherwise?
"At the end of the day, passion is what matters most."


Caitlin Smith, Associate Editor, wears a Wilfred Free T-shirt, H&M overalls, Adidas sneakers, and vintage jewelry.

Your closet is on fire! What three items do you save from the flames?
"My George Cox Chelsea boots; a long, floral vintage sundress that I wore until it was tattered and have always planned on taking to the tailor; and my perfect, black leather jacket that I got from Topshop when I first visited NYC years ago."

Whose wardrobe would you swap with in a heartbeat and why?
"Rihanna! Obsessed with her."

Your worst fashion faux-pas?
"I'm ashamed to say that I wore a lot of Abercrombie & Fitch in high school. Everything else I wore that might be considered cringe-worthy (butterfly clips, majorly wide legged jeans, Dickie overalls, platform Rocket Dog sandals) I only remember fondly and am slowly re-integrating into my wardrobe."

Which trend do you really like, and which would you never be caught dead trying?
"Bucket hats, overalls, sneakers with dresses, socks with sandals…I can't really think of anything I wouldn't be down for trying."

Assuming there's no dress code in your office, where do you personally draw the "too casual for work" line?
"I'm guilty of going into the office in everything from grossly oversize sweaters to probably-way-too-short-for-work shorts, so I'm not sure what is off limits at this point. I would say literal pajamas, but even that's a new trend."

How did you get your job at Aritzia?
"Our amazing editor in chief, Luke Crisell, brought me on board from Nylon."

What have you learned about the fashion industry by working at Aritzia that you wouldn't have known otherwise?
"I now know the ins-and-outs of creating a campaign, have some insight to the intricacies of a brand's social media outlets, learned how a lookbook is produced from beginning to end, and a million other things that ultimately prove that there's SO much more than you predict going on behind the scenes of any brand. It's hard work! But also super fun."


Sean Morrissey, Public Relations Manager, wears a Uniqlo T-shirt, Levi's jeans, Vans sneakers, and a Club Monaco belt.

Your closet is on fire! What three items do you save from the flames?
"The staples: White Vans, black Naked and Famous jeans, Uniqlo T-shirt."

Whose wardrobe would you swap with in a heartbeat and why?
"Tom Ford. His wardrobe would get me in a suit, which is pretty hard to do."

Which trend do you really like, and which would you never be caught dead trying?
"Love a good backpack, and I just can't get behind man gladiators."

How did you get your job at Aritzia?
"I was approached about the position by Lalena, who I had interned under back in the day at Club Monaco."

What have you learned about the fashion industry by working at Aritzia that you wouldn't have known otherwise?
"Aritzia is a unique fashion brand in that all employees are empowered to be creative, collaborative and entrepreneurial. Getting to work closely with all departments has been a great learning experience."


Allison Bouis, Public Relations Coordinator, wears a Wilfred dress, Isabel Marant sandals, a Club Monaco bracelet, and necklaces by Dana Rebecca, Alexis Bittar, and Espiritutara.

Your closet is on fire! What three items do you save from the flames?
"A pair of Miu Miu heels that were my very first purchase from Barneys, a beaded dress from my grandma that I'm convinced I'll wear to my wedding, and my favorite Chloé sandals, which I've had resoled twice and will never give up on."

Whose wardrobe would you swap with in a heartbeat and why?
"Nicole Richie. I've never seen an outfit of hers that I didn't like, and she has a way of owning anything she wears. Ideally, this would also mean we would hang out and become great friends."



Your worst fashion faux-pas?
"Abercrombie & Fitch head-to-toe from 2000 through 2004. I truly believe my parents kept them in business throughout those years."

What do you splurge on, and what do you cheap out on?
"Splurge on shoes and pizza, cheap out on denim and dessert. Priorities!"

Which trend do you really like, and which would you never be caught dead trying?
"Love the overalls trend—I think that every body type can find a pair that are flattering. Will never understand the bra-as-a-top trend. At what age is that ever appropriate? It can't be comfortable, there's just no way."

Assuming there's no dress code in your office, where do you personally draw the "too casual for work" line?
"If I'll get into bed in it, it's probably not appropriate for the office, or the general public."


Ellen Carpenter, Deputy Editor, wears a Wilfred Free top, Wilfred skirt, and Dolce Vita sandals.

Your closet is on fire! What three items do you save from the flames?
"My Frye harness boots that I've had since 2003 and still wear everyday that it's not blazing hot outside (I've only had to resole them twice!); my wedding dress—a 1962 Stavropoulos gown that I saw in Martha Stewart Weddings but never in a gazillion years thought I could buy (I didn't even know it was for sale!) but serendipitously found it at Jana Starr Vintage marked down from $2,500 to $600 because of a two-inch tear in the organza, which cost me $75 to fix; a purple, polka-dot silk blouse that I bought in Paris back in 2006 that I lovingly refer to as my magic shirt: I've never worn it and not gotten a compliment. That said, now I only wear it a couple times a year to preserve its power and charm."

Whose wardrobe would you swap with in a heartbeat and why?
"Not that my clothes are soooo amazing, but I wouldn't want to swap my wardrobe with anyone's (too much history! happy memories!). But I would like to borrow a few pieces from Princess Kate and Jenny Lewis and Diane Kruger every now and then."

What is the best piece of shopping advice you've gotten?
"Invest in good bras (get fitted!). It doesn't matter how cute your outfit is—if you have an ill-fitting or uncomfortable bra, you won't look good."

Your worst fashion faux-pas?
"I went through an unfortunate turtleneck phase when I first moved to New York. It was like an addiction: red turtlenecks, gray turtlenecks, three-quarter-sleeved, cashmere, striped. Why I wanted to cover up my young, 21-year-old self, I don't know. I think everyone I worked with assumed I had some disfiguring scar on my neck or something."

Which trend do you really like, and which would you never be caught dead trying?
"I'm really glad culottes are back—to me they're very 1940s wartime: Tough women going to work but still looking feminine. Such a great balance. They also make riding a Citibike to work a whole lot easier. On the flip side, I really dislike the rompers trend. So juvenile! So Maurices circa 1991! So difficult to go to the bathroom!"

Assuming there's no dress code in your office, where do you personally draw the "too casual for work" line?
"For me, the whole activewear trend is totally inappropriate for work. You sweat in those track shorts and that racerback tank! Why would you want to wear them to sit at a desk and type emails?"

What's your worst shopping habit?
"Not buying anything. I tend to get this perfect idea of what I want in my head and then nothing lives up to it, so I end up suffering for months because I can't bring myself to buy something subpar to my dream! It's really annoying."

How did you get your job at Aritzia?
"They wanted to make an online fashion and culture magazine, so they plucked me away from my job as deputy editor at Nylon."

What have you learned about the fashion industry by working at Aritzia that you wouldn't have known otherwise?
"I was surprised to discover that brand loyalty is a real thing. I've never had a strong affinity for a particular brand, but these Aritzia girls are serious. In Canada, they grew up with the brand and it dressed them through all the stages in their life—from high school to college to their first job. I think Aritzia is gaining that loyal audience in the US as well, and that's exciting."


Sarah Lewitinn, Music Director, wears a Wilfred Free dress, Steve Madden sandals, and vintage necklace.

Your closet is on fire! What three items do you save from the flames?
"My black engineer boots, black vintage slip, box of photographs."

Whose wardrobe would you swap with in a heartbeat and why?
"That's easy, Mary-Kate Olsen. I've been admiring her wardrobe since the early 2000s. Everyone thought I was nuts or totally facetious when I'd rave about her fashion potential and style, but I showed them; now she's an icon. She's like a bohemian goth angel and I want everything she has."

Your worst fashion faux-pas?
"I'm a walking fashion tragedy sometimes, but I think the worst was when I wore a head-to-toe white outfit (jeans/T-shirt/suit jacket), with a scrolling LED belt buckle, and a strip of red eyeshadow that went across my face like a blindfold. I looked like an extra from a My Chemical Romance video. The only saving grace to that is that I was the band's first manager, so I got a free pass on that...I think? By the way, there's a photo of this look and that makes me want to cry."

What do you splurge on, and what do you cheap out on?
"Splurge: I get my music and concert tickets for free, so I typically splurge on the dinners before the shows. Since I have caviar taste when it comes to my restaurant selections, I splurge on my friends' meals as well. Minetta Tavern is calling my name right now. Cheap: I've come to a point in my life where I realize that quality is essential. If I can't afford the very best, then I shouldn't even bother. That's probably why I wear shoes that are falling apart."

Which trend do you really like, and which would you never be caught dead trying?
"I really like the colorful hair color thing going on right now. As someone whose had pink and purple hair longer than she's had au natural, I've been waiting for this to happen for years. It's also nice that the whole faded hair color thing is chic as well since my hair color fades after a week or two and sometimes I'm too lazy to re-dye. Never: Birkenstocks. How on earth are those coming back in style? Maybe it's because I listened to the Smiths in high school and not Phish (ever), but I just can't deal with the look. I'm really scared my boyfriend will find out about those making a comeback and ruin my life by buying himself a thousand pairs for himself."

What's your worst shopping habit?
"I often buy things without trying them on because I can't deal with changing room lines. This is such a bad habit since I have very little sense of personal body size as it's fluctuated so much over the years. This means I'm constantly returning things (or just giving items away if it's final sale), or praying that one day I'll fit in them."

How did you get your job at Aritzia?
"I was previously the Music Director for Nylon, but took some time off (and didn't come back) when my father got incredibly sick. I had been chilling out for four months when Aritzia Magazine's Editor-in-Chief, Luke Crisell, reached out to me. He'd hopped over to Aritzia from Nylon—as did a few others—and asked me to join. I think that the CEO of Aritzia, Brian Hill, supported my hire because I worked in a bunch of different facets of the industry; I ran my own record label and a music marketing company, was an assistant editor at SPIN magazine, a DJ, party promoter, TV host, band manager, and a book writer. He could tell that I live and breathe music and very little else. I've gotta say, this is by far the greatest job I've ever had. I am eternally grateful to him for this opportunity."

What have you learned about the fashion industry by working at Aritzia that you wouldn't have known otherwise?
"First of all, I had no idea that there was a person that selected the music that gets played in stores until I got the job doing it. Secondly, I honestly had no idea how much work goes into the photoshoots for all of a brands' products. It doesn't matter if it's an elaborate photoshoot on top of a mountain that has to take place exactly when the sun is setting, or the images you see on a website of a model showing you the front, back, and side of a garment, there's someone behind that. Aritzia's producer (whom I sit next to), Michaela McMahon-Dunphy, is amazing at putting these together exquisitely."


Michael de Almeida, Assistant Fashion Editor, wears a Steven Alan shirt, Topman jacket, Uniqlo jeans, Nike x APC sneakers, and a Miansai bracelet.

Your closet is on fire! What three items do you save from the flames?
"My wallet (obviously). My Marc by Marc Jacobs swim shorts, because honestly, it's time for a vacation anyway, and my Nike Flyknits to run away from my closet that just spontaneously combusted."

Whose wardrobe would you swap with in a heartbeat and why?
"Marc Jacobs, because he doesn't abide by your normal fashion rules. He's always dressing outside of the box, and he pulls it off in a way that's so second nature. It's very refreshing."



Your worst fashion faux-pas?
"Fedoras. Sometimes, I spot the rare and endangered hat in public, and my mind immediately paints a vivid picture of an outdated ska band performing on a senior-citizens cruise in the Bahamas."

What do you splurge on, and what do you cheap out on?
"Splurge on accessories in the summer, and outerwear in the winter. I'm going to pretend I didn't read the "cheaping out" part of this question."

Which trend do you really like, and which would you never be caught dead trying?
"I'm really loving how on fall runways there was all this layering of knitwear, and dressing up sweaters. I can't wait until fall, I'm really excited to look be cozy in head-to-toe mohair. And for a trend I wouldn't be caught dead in: Tunics. I just can't get behind that."

Assuming there's no dress code in your office, where do you personally draw the "too casual for work" line?
"Man sandals. Shorts, fine. Graphic tees, no problem. However, sandals always make you look like you're a little too ready for the beach."

What's your worst shopping habit?
"Overspending on cocktails, but a girl's gotta eat."

How did you get your job at Aritzia?
"Debonair charm, social grace, and a winning smile of course."



What have you learned about the fashion industry by working at Aritzia that you wouldn't have known otherwise?
"Hard work really does pay off. I've been blessed to work with really talented and creative people, who have genuinely put their faith in me and have given me wonderful opportunities. It's a demanding job for sure, but because of the effort I've put into it, I've literally been able to travel the world, and have gained invaluable experience and knowledge along the way."
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