from paris georgia, with love

The childhood best friends turned sartorial power couple on breaking New York’s market from their cozy Auckland studio.

by Isabelle Hellyer
16 May 2017, 3:20am

Georgia Cherrie (left) and Paris Mitchell.

If it's Paris Georgia basics, it comes it three colours: black, white, and camel. The label is the two-year-old brainchild of childhood friends Paris Mitchell and Georgia Cherrie, who know that less is truly best. The pair create pure wardrobe staples, those perfect pieces you're always so close to getting before they're spoiled by some unnecessary detailing. Their silk slips, simple blouses and plain trousers are a breath of fresh air, nodding at 90s New York minimalism.

When we first wrote about Paris Georgia basics, the label was buried towards the bottom of a list of brands stocked by The Mercantile, Paris and Georgia's then brand-new e-commerce venture. Paris Georgia basics was, by and large, created to compliment the vintage pulls they'd built the highly editorialised site around. "We just needed to fill the gap on our site, so we created some really beautiful essentials, but things kept moving," Georgia recounts over the phone from their Auckland studio. The label quickly proved to be something much more than The Mercantile's in-house offering: they debuted their brand's first full collection in Maryam Nassir Zadeh's New York showroom, at her request.

In two years, Paris Georgia basics has won a burgeoning cult following, but the story of the pair's success, rapid as it was, isn't interesting for its speed, but for Paris and Georgia's uniquely synchronised partnership. Here, the duo recount the label's rise, the frantic story of readying their collection for Maryam, and why their business works so well.

i-D: Starting two businesses almost simultaneously, a web store and a label — that's gutsy. Were you always such let's just go for it people?
Georgia: Oh my god, absolutely.
Paris: I think so. I'm definitely motivated, but Georgia was really the one saying, we're doing this.
Georgia: When we started thinking about this in 2014, Paris had just come back from living in New York, and I had just come back from Spain. We were both back in New Zealand, we didn't have jobs, and we'd been friends for so long — we've been best friends since we were 14. I didn't want a bar of working for anyone else, so we booked tickets to LA and went vintage shopping, knowing that was the start of our business.

Tell me about your time overseas.
Paris: I was working in New York at American Vogue in the art department there. I saw what the editors were doing there and got so excited by the idea of styling, so outside of work, I started styling. When I came back to New Zealand, I knew it was exactly what I wanted to do. The store was the perfect opportunity for that.
Georgia: Paris styles and is the creative director of all our shoots. From the beginning we knew we were going to buy vintage, and we were going to shoot it crazy differently, we wanted it to feel alive on the site — that's all Paris. She really works the with photographers to create such special imagery.

And what's your strong suit Georgia?
Georgia: Oh my god, no! Don't ask me that [laughs]. I hate talking about myself.
Paris: Georgia is the managing director.
Georgia: I studied marketing at university, so I handle the more business-y side of things, so meeting with the retailers and dealing with press. We do a lot of the work together too. Nothing goes to print without both of us running our eye over it.
Paris: It's a really nice balance, and you never feel like you're doing it alone. Georgia makes so many design decisions, too. It's amazing she can play both of those roles — now we're just talking each other up! [laughs]

Paris Georgia basics certainly grew quickly — what were some of the challenges you faced with scaling the business?
Paris: It's been crazy. Honestly, when we had the call from Maryam [Nassir Zadeh], saying she wants to represent us in her New York showroom, we had two months to put [the collection] together! We started with such a small range: in the beginning we were only dealing with three Paris Georgia basics styles for The Mercantile, then it was like, dealing with 28 styles [for Maryam]. We had ideas we'd been thinking about for so long anyway, so it wasn't the hardest thing in the world, but a lot of late nights. So she launched our first collection only two season ago.
Georgia: The season that we're talking about, that's online now — but it feels like so long ago. And at that point we were both working other jobs too. But when you're that excited about something you make it work. We've only started to make the transition [to working on the label full time] now. We're so grateful for it, we've had for fair share of working for other people.

How did you connect with Maryam?
Paris: She was actually one of our customers, buying our vintage when The Mercantile launched.
Georgia: Maryam and us, our brands are aesthetically so different but there is a level similarity: we value the same things. I think social media has let us make those connections with brands that share our values.
Paris: We're Maryam's biggest fans.
Georgia: Biggest fans. We did start in New Zealand, but our New York showroom is our first showroom. That was so important. From there, Australia really caught on, and now we have Melbourne and Sydney stockists.

And where next?
Georgia: We took the range to Paris with Maryman this season, so hopefully Paris, London, Germany — we love that idea. I lived in Europe, so I'd love for us to be there. That's the next dream. There could be jewellery, but it's about one thing at a time. We have our store, we have our brand, there's a lot going on. You really want to perfect one thing at a time.


Text Isabelle Hellyer

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