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California Dreaming

There’s one name synonymous with laid-back LA style: James Perse.

It’s one thing to know a brand by its logo, but to achieve instant recognition and legions of loyal fans with little more than the texture of cotton—that’s a rarified field of fashion.

James Perse is certainly not the only designer to have accomplished this feat, but credit is due to the man who repositioned the cotton t-shirt as an unlikely status symbol. The fitted, thin and super soft tees have become as much a part of LA-style as the myriad celebs who don them. But incidentally, it was a baseball cap and not a t-shirt that first put Perse in the designer’s seat.

James Perse.

Perse’s father, Tommy, is the founder of legendary Los Angeles retail mecca, Maxfield. In 1991, James set out to design the one thing he couldn’t find on his father’s sales floor—or anywhere else, for that matter—a well-fitted baseball cap.  The hats were a hit, and a few years later he introduced a t-shirt line that blended luxury and casual to perfect effect. By 1996 Perse introduced a women’s knitwear line, which soon developed into two distinctly wearable collections: Standard James Perse for high-quality basics and James Perse Los Angeles ready-to-wear items, including jackets, sweaters, pants and dresses. In 1998, the brand launched an equally outlined men's collection and later, a line for babies and children.

What began with a baseball cap and a t-shirt had expanded into a universe of laid back cool, where lifestyle was about the beach, being outdoors and ultimately, effortless comfort.

His furniture line of simple, slip-covered chairs and sturdy, natural-wood tables and the like, can be found at select stores, including Bal Harbour Shops. And what’s on most Perse fans’ most-coveted list, is the line of limited edition products, like the solid teak ping pong table, and 70s-style walnut and wenge skateboard, which currently has a waiting list.

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