Alexis & Kymberely McClay
Designers of clothing line NAVEN
Modern-chic meets retro-punk
Equal parts intelligent, driven and beautiful, these fashion-forward twins have created themselves a fashion empire
How did you decide to start NAVEN and where does the name come from?
Growing up in Vancouver, Canada, we had both a tomboyish love of sports and the outdoors and an undeniable passion for fashion. For most of our teen life we felt a conflict between our love for the small town where we grew up, and a longing for a big city life with new and bright opportunities.
We were at the age of 11 when our parents divorced. Our father moved to Europe, so we spent most of our teen lives globe-trotting, visiting him in Spain, France, London and Italy. We got a taste for European fashion and culture, which later developed into a fashion-forward thinking. These influences have been rendered in the aesthetics of the NAVEN collection. Our family has a large Irish decent from Navan, Ireland, which sparked the inspiration for the name, NAVEN.
Big fish in a small pond, we decided it was time to leave Vancouver and see what else in the world was open to conquer. Wanting to explore the idea of independence, Kym moved to Los Angeles to pursue a degree in fashion at FIDM. After several prestigious internships, Kym worked for a large Asian denim company, with over 100 department stores in Asia, as head designer and pre-production supervisor. Meanwhile, Alexis moved to Arizona to pursue languages at Arizona State University. we were too important to one another to spend another day apart After a few years apart to grow as individuals, we realized that life was too short; we were too important to one another to spend another day apart. Alexis had a love for marketing and business, so she applied to Pepperdine University in Malibu. The day she was accepted, Alexis packed up everything she could fit in her small Honda Civic, left the rest behind, and headed to Los Angeles to live with her sister, Kym. After completing her degree in marketing at Pepperdine, Alexis went straight into the work force for an international marketing firm, where she quickly moved up.
Why is fashion so important to you?
Fashion is personal; it’s a projection of who you are and how you feel on the inside, expressed on the outside. A true NAVEN girl steps out of the house every morning with the thought in her head that today will be an adventure. Her goal is to make an impression on all those she will meet that day and inspire change in her own ways to the world she lives in. She is confident, empowered, and fearless, and believes in expressing herself through fashion; never blending in but instead, accentuating her true colors. She incorporates bold bright hues in her wardrobe and she loves angular and feminine structure in the construction of her clothing. She is a forward-thinker and equally a fashion-forward girl. The NAVEN girl gets noticed, and takes the time to notice all that is bright, beautiful, and innovative in her world.
How do you pull off being fashionable at work but still looking professional?
NAVEN is a lifestyle brand. We want to offer a convenient way for women on the go to shop, where you need only come to one place for all fashion needs. This means we offer workplace looks, evening and casual looks. There is an art to being dressing appropriately without losing your sense of fashion. Being covered up and professional does not mean you can’t be fun and light-hearted. We would pair a NAVEN chartreuse oversized blazer with a calf-length skirt, a button up and black heels; or a NAVEN pop pink oversized blouse with a grey pencil skirt, and simple tan pumps. We like to add color to a simple outfit to create a professional yet fun look.
Build a strong team, plan before you implement and always trust in your vision.
Walk us through a typical day of getting ready together… Do you plan outfits or coordinate with each other?
Dress for success! That was one piece of advice I received before my first day at high school, and it is still revelant today. Our style changes depending on our mood, or our calendar for the day. We have a tendency to leave the house in the same print or color, so we try to coordinate first thing in the AM.
What advice do you have for up and coming designers and what are your must have items for fall?
Build a strong team, plan before you implement and always trust in your vision. Our must-have items for fall are NAVEN’s straight skirt python party dress, the emerald betty dress, the matching moto jacket and circle skirt in python, and the tweet champaign hot shorts with oversized blouse in baby doll pink and neon yellow.
You are both big music fans, do you think music inspires fashion? If so, what bands/artists have inspired you?
Art inspires other forms of art; this is so true for fashion. Some bands we love are Florence and the Machine, Black Keys, and Mike Snow.
Spotlight On is a monthly column highlighting influential women in fashion.