Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez

Proenza Schouler’s Roadmap to Success with Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez

Show Notes


Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, the dynamic design duo behind New York–based womenswear brand Proenza Schouler, share their thoughts on the evolving fashion marketplace with Christopher Michael and how they’ve seen their work mature and scale with it. Their illustrious journey started 20 years ago at Parsons School of Design when they completed a joint senior thesis collection, which grabbed the attention of retail heavyweight Barneys New York. In their triumphant rise to a successful, prominent luxury label, they navigated social media noise and kept up with the breakneck pace of a never-ending, fast-paced global production cycle. Working in tandem has been vital to them, extending the emotional, creative, and practical support that buttressed Proenza Schouler’s growth and longevity. What’s contemporary now? A celebration of individuality, keeping the work authentic to the brand's core values, and a broad embrace of all kinds of perspectives while also sticking to your vision and not just being a follower.

Episode Highlights
  • Getting the name right: Pronounced Pro'ensa Skool'er, the name represents the combination of the designers' mothers' maiden names.
  • Origin stories: Born and raised in Miami, Lazaro fell in love with magazines and design early, ultimately abandoning pre-med to attend Parsons School of Design. Jack spent his early childhood in Japan before relocating to New Jersey as a teen, a "culture shock" that preceded his move to Parsons School of Design.
  • Aha moments: The early influences that shaped Lazaro's interest in the fashion industry and Jack's focus shifting away from the visual arts in college.
  • Becoming a brand: Pulling all-night design sessions as college students cemented the bond between Jack and Lazaro, in terms of style and approach to work.
  • Turning point: What ensued after the fashion duo was introduced to Julie Gilhart, who was running Barneys New York and became a champion of their first collection—conceived and designed as an award-winning joint thesis project.
  • Early days bootstrapping: The team figured out all the design, manufacturing, pricing, marketing, and other functions that came to be known as Proenza Schouler. (A name they came up with within two days.)
  • What has changed: Jack reflects on today's increased "noise" level in the fashion marketplace, the "endless list" of would-be designers online, and the need to differentiate. Lazaro contrasts today's hardcore business and branding orientation to the more artistic, playful environment that prevailed when they started.
  • Big money, fast timelines: The accelerating breakneck pace of marketing, pre-collections, social media management, and merchandising strategy.
  • Staying creative: Jack and Lazaro evolved a balance between their business and design functions, merging them without letting one take over the other.
  • Then and now: The evolution of Proenza Schouler's editorial/design focus on surprise and innovation toward a sense of continuity and investment in telling the same story but in fresh, new ways.
  • The sweet spot: Curiosity and clear-eyed self-criticism have driven Jack and Lazaro past stumbles from better to best, season to season.
  • Love-hate: The beautiful opportunity fashion offers to reinvent and extend constantly versus the stress of that never-ending grind of performing.
  • Duo dynamics: Working as a pair has conferred emotional support, creative challenge, and the ability to scale, multitask, and adapt to today's fashion industry.
  • Identity shift: A look at how Proenza Schouler has continued providing "urban clothes for intelligent women" as their customers' lives have morphed and matured.
  • Celebrating practicality, individuality, and diversity: New York's fast pace and changeability are woven into the Proenza Schouler brand's voice and identity.
  • What's Contemporary Now? A celebration of individuality, keeping the work authentic to the brand's core values, and a broad embrace of all kinds of perspectives while also sticking to your vision and not just being a follower.
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