Before today's athletic trend, leather joggers, and sporty sandals—before comfort in fashion, in general—there was the bubble-gum pink velour Juicy Couture tracksuit. Flash back to the early noughts and it was as though everyone and her mom were rocking a set, each embroidered with the trademark "Westie"-flanked Juicy crest. And who was responsible, not only for Juicy's iconic placement in pop culture, but for spearheading the athletic movement into wearable fashion? Its founders Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor (pictured, right). But after a series of unfortunate events (a corporate sell, a change in management, a shift in work culture), the duo left the brand. Three years later (the time allotted in their non-compete agreement), they're back, better and stronger than ever, with a new line: Pam & Gela.
With a history so deeply rooted in Juicy Couture, Skaist-Levy and Nash-Taylor don't expect a complete dissociation between the two brands, but are quick to point out that the new line isn't Juicy Couture 2.0 either. Rather, it's a natural evolution for them. "We are Juicy, but we're not the same girls that we were then. Today, we want to wear different things. We're making clothes that we want to wear today," Nash-Taylor tells InStyle.com.
"Casual luxury is something that's in our blood," Skaist-Levy chimes in. "We're obsessed with the California lifestyle, we live that lifestyle, so our collection is based on that—things that are easy to wear and chic, put-together yet casual."
But that's not to say Pam & Gela is all work and no play. There's still that playful attitude, with cheeky sayings splashed across tops and tees. The DNA of their aesthetic, which traces back to their early days at Juicy Couture, is still inherently there. That velour tracksuit has evolved into a white sleeveless fleece zipper sweatshirt with matching fleece pants scrunched at the knees (pictured, above). "It's just chic, you can go anywhere! For day, you can wear it with heels or low gladiators; for night, throw on a cool jacket and change up your shoes," says Nash-Taylor, who calls it "coat dressing," changing your look on the surface but keeping the main pieces underneath the same. "Today, women are wearing so many different hats, they need this kind of casual luxury—it's for the girl who has a mobile lifestyle. That's how people dress these days."
Right now they're busy launching their current collection (available now at bloomingdales.com, shopbop.com, and neimanmarcus.com) and gearing up for the release of their book The Glitter Plan: How We Started Juicy Couture for $200 and Turned It Into a Global Brand (out May 29, available for pre-order now) that documents their Juicy Couture experience.
In the end though, it all boils down to their passion for designing clothes. "I think shopping, clothes, and fashion should be a fun, interactive, joyful experience," says Nash-Taylor. "And we want to be that brand that brings it back into the world."