Ella Emhoff, the 21-year-old knitwear designer who signed a major modeling contract in January, released her first clothing collection since going viral in a coat at the inauguration of her mother-in-law, Vice President Kamala Harris.
Presented Thursday morning on Mall, a shopping platform for emerging designers, the collection included five knitted items, priced between $ 160 and $ 320: two sweater vests, a handbag, a long dress without sleeves and a pair of shorts.
Only one of each item was made. Within 30 minutes, three of the five pieces were sold out.
This model of drops – or limited releases, often heavily promoted on social media – originated in the world of streetwear, where large groups of fans lined up for hours to buy a new style of sneaker. It has since become a ubiquitous strategy, albeit mostly online now, for selling all kinds of stuff: not just Kylie Jenner lipstick kits and Telfar Clemens leather bags, but also gourmet meals and native pearls.
The DIY and slow fashion communities on Instagram and TikTok are no exception. There, independent manufacturers often perform custom one-person operations, and it is often easier and more efficient to launch their products in small batches than to run a full direct-to-consumer e-commerce platform. time. Highly-followed artisans can see their products sell out in seconds – which, as streetwear designers have been, only creates more anticipation for their next drop.
The founder of the Mall, Laura Banas, created her site last June as a community for these artisans; it stocks around twenty designers who, in general, celebrate color and strangeness in equal measure. Almost all of its inventory is one of a kind.
“I’m looking for playful pieces,” Ms. Banas said. “And a lot of the designers I work with use vintage materials or have sustainable practices – those are the two most important things to me.”
Beyond Ms Emhoff’s pieces, Thursday’s drop from Mall featured crushed-velvet turtlenecks and flared pants from KkCo, a Los Angeles-based brand, and hand-painted abstract shirts from Tony Tafuro, an artist from Brooklyn.
Ms Banas said she met Ms Emhoff a few months before the inauguration. She was impressed with how her designs were not only playful but “really well done,” she says.
Ms. Emhoff’s two waistcoats are available in shades of green and pink, in a striped pattern and a checkered pattern. (One, aptly referred to as the “Breast Flower Sweater Vest,” has two hot pink flowers across the chest.) The handbag, trimmed in hot pink, featured a knitted pixelated image of Tweety Bird.
Ms Emhoff, who also made her New York Fashion Week debut on Thursday as a model for Proenza Schouler (and who has modeled her own and other designs for Mall), is currently a senior at Parsons School of Design in New York, studying fine arts with an emphasis on textiles.
Last month, she told the New York Times that she was eager to bring “a bit of Bushwick into the high fashion realm.”