Greg Myler On The St. John Woman
Established in 1962, St. John has made its name as a knitwear brand with a difference. Initially built around the idea of a simple, elegant knit dress, the brand is now famed for its effortless and understated-yet-alluring collections.
We spoke to the Senior Vice President of Design, Greg Myler, about who the St. John woman really is...
Can you sum up the St. John look in three words?
Polished, modern and easy.
"We understand our customer and what she needs and what we need to meet that. There’s definitely a real process to it."
Kate Winslet, Angelina Jolie and Karen Elson…who else would you love to see as the face of St. John in the future?
We’ve recently dressed Sophia Vergara, Viola Davis and Taraji P. Henson. We have a general idea of who our customer is, an aspirational version of her, but we’re not necessarily thinking of a celebrity. I mean, I do have my favourites whom I would love to dress; I love Alicia Vikander, she’s just beautiful.
Aside from formalwear, the St. John collections feature timeless staples. Is it important to you to design for the everyday woman, and not just occasionwear?
In the States we really have a strong business for working women, so that’s definitely the staple for our woman: business suits and appropriate dresses, that kind of thing.
When it comes to nailing your workwear wardrobe, what are the key investments to make?
It’s not about being eighties with the big shoulders and bright colours, it’s about being elegant, chic and understated. Also, I think our customer really loves the fact that we’re a knit company, because she can buy a jacket that she can sit and move in, and I think we all buy things now that have stretch because we’re used to the comfort and ease of knits.
Where do you find the inspiration for your designs?
The pre-Fall collection is based on Morocco. I spent a month there four years ago; I went to Casablanca, Marrakesh, back through Agadir by the coast, so that was specific to me because I’d been there and really loved it. I bought a lot of textiles and brought them back with me. Then we did a lot of what we call virtual travelling because we’re so busy and we’re stuck in California. So we travel virtually, and then often it comes from personal experiences or things that you pick up on your travels. I just find that the design team and the knit team create all our textiles if you give them a really strong theme. Particularly with Morocco, the spice markets, and the beautiful colours - it just really helps to create something that has a real story to it.
Tell us about your design process...
We’re very organised; our day starts with a swatch meeting which is really about reviewing all the materials that our mill makes. We make our own fabrics, so we have an amazing creative and technical team, and we’ll review that and all the knits that come through. Next, we’ll have a design meeting and look at sketches. We fit from 10:30am until midday, and then the afternoon tends to be just design and creative work. So it’s very structured; we work with a great merchandiser and a planner. It really is - apart from the creative thing - a science. We understand our customer and what she needs and what we need to meet that. There’s definitely a real process to it.
Who is the St. John woman?
She’s definitely modern, she wants to look put together and she travels a lot. An attribute of our brand is that you can fold up our clothes in a suitcase, travel, pop them open and you can hang the clothes up - they don’t crease. She’s very varied; she could be a 35-year old to a 70-year old, but they all want to look polished, put together, modern and appropriate.
What is next for St. John?
We say evolution not revolution, so it’s usually a slow process. But we’re definitely trying to modernise and push the envelope creatively.
Shop from our St. John edit below.
Pore over the exquisite A-list looks being showcased at this summer's events.