In the world of “Motherchic” blogger Lindsey Schuster, to be fashionable is to be mom-friendly.
The ideal T-shirt loosely skims the body. This spring’s reigning must-haves — blousy blouses and blousy jumpsuits — are best if snapped, buttoned, or zipped up. The easier to nurse, the better.
There is the unsaid prerequisite that all apparel can and should be paired with sneakers (pumps optional). And nothing should be so expensive that if it suffered from the indignity of, say, an accidental ketchup stain, saltiness would set in.
I’ve just described Schuster’s new womenswear collection, Gibson X The Motherchic, released Thursday on Nordstrom.com — just in time for Mother’s Day. Everything in this airy 13-piece collection is under $100. On a recent afternoon, the racks of Schuster’s Villanova studio were filled with slip-on dresses, ruffled-hem Ts and maxis, as well as my favorite, a smocked jumpsuit. It’s all very J.Crew-meets-Anthropologie with a dose of familiar Tory Burch Main Line vibe.
“I never would have dreamed of all of this,” said Schuster, 37, a mother of four boys who in her previous life was an elementary schoolteacher. “If you told me five years ago this would be my job today, I wouldn’t have believed you. I was just going back to work after I had my babies.”
These influencers have a built-in customer base of fans, so getting the word out is a snap. The brands, on the other hand, have designing and manufacturing resources needed to produce collections.
“We partner with creative influencers because they have a very strong point of view,” said Chantal Westbury, founder of Inspr, a New York brand that produces collections for influencers with at least 100,000 followers. “They don’t have other people styling them, you can see their true talents, and that is refreshing and inspiring.”
Some of these influencer/brand collaborations are small to medium scale. Take local Men’s Style Pro influencer Sabir Peele, who has 64,000 Instagram followers and who has worked with emerging menswear labels from Italian suit brand Moda Matters to pocket square kings Armstrong & Wilson. Peele’s collabs sell out every time.
Among the most successful of fashion influencers nationwide is Arielle Charnas, whose Something Navy Instagram boasts 218,000 followers and who also has a deal with Nordstrom. In the fall, Charnas’ collection of tailored pieces with perfectly placed details drove an estimated $5 million in single-day sales and did better than the department store’s collections with Beyoncé and Rihanna.
Six years ago, when Schuster was merely a mother of two, she started blogging as a creative outlet. Her blog was called “Sisters to Sons” because she had four sisters and now she had two young boys. But after her oldest son, who was 5 at the time, asked her whether his latest shenanigans would make her blog, Schuster thought it wise to change its direction. Why risk being the topic of her kids’ therapy sessions years down the line?
Why not fashion?
“I asked my husband’s cousin to photograph my outfits," said Schuster, who was wearing a Motherchic floral blouse and a pair of Madewell jeans. She defines a chic mom. “I want to help moms look and feel their best,” she said. “A lot of times, we lose ourselves in motherhood and end up wearing sweat pants all day. I think if you look good, you automatically feel good.”
It wasn’t long before Schuster’s boho preppy style began to attract the attention of everyone from Macy’s to lululemon, which realized she was driving traffic to their sites. She began working out exclusive deals with them, getting a share for the clothes she modeled that sold on their sites.
Late last year, Gibson reached out to her. Soon, Schuster, Nordstrom and Gibson were collaborating. The first collection was two T-shirts that the brand launched with other influencers in honor of International Women’s Day. But this collection is her baby and if it goes well, there is a chance it will be in stores.
“All I can hope is that the designs resonate with my readers," Schuster said.