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Cannabis, fashion brand cross-pollination turns over a new leaf

At left, Sundae School’s fall and winter 2019 apparel collection in the background with its soon-to-launch cannabis offerings, which includes pre-rolled joints and vaporizer pens, in the foreground. At right, label co-founder Dae Lim. (Béatrice de Géa for The Times)

When it comes to luxury apparel brands tapping into the growing popularity of pot, there hasn’t been much movement beyond the enthusiastic embrace of the marijuana-leaf motif.

One need look no further than the diamond- and emerald-encrusted, 18-karat white-gold Happy Leaves necklace Bulgari introduced last year or the green gown from Viktor & Rolf’s spring and summer 2019 couture collection with the instantly recognizable seven-point cannabis sativa leaf emblazoned across the front.

The founders of Sundae School, a fledgling apparel brand based in New York, want to change that. Following on the heels of the label’s second cut-and-sew collection, co-founder Dae Lim has decided to branch out beyond fashion into branded cannabis products, which are expected to hit California dispensaries sometime in the middle of next month.

A dress from the spring and summer 2019 Viktor & Rolf couture show, left, and a Bulgari necklace, right, are among high-end brands' efforts to tap into cannabis chic.
A dress from the spring and summer 2019 Viktor & Rolf couture show, left, and a Bulgari necklace, right, are among high-end brands’ efforts to tap into cannabis chic. (Victor Boyko / Getty Images (left), Bulgari (right))

His upscale unisex smokewear line, which is carried locally by Barneys New York in Beverly Hills as well as online, looks from afar like any number of laid-back, loungewear-meets-workwear labels, but up- close it reveals its nods to the cannabis consumer, including hats with hidden spliff holders, jackets with dedicated pipe pockets, intarsia-knit crew neck sweaters that declare “smoking chills,” and toile patterns splashed across sweatpants and shorts that depict cross-legged, robe-clad scholars brushing up on how to roll joints or make bongs.

Lim, 26, explained that the decision to grow from cut-and-sew into cannabis came out of visiting California to research the label’s fall and winter 2019 Green Rush collection, which is themed around the recent legalization of medical marijuana in South Korea (where Lim was born) and the prospect of legal recreational cannabis in New York. (The statement piece of that collection is an immense, cocoon-like puffer jacket inspired by a blunt — a type of joint that’s rolled in a tobacco-leaf wrapper.)

The cannabis business “was so exciting,” Lim said, “and it wasn’t too long before we realized that only two kinds of people can really play in that market: the people who have the most money and the people who can tell the most amazing stories and can authentically communicate [their brand story].

Looks from Sundae School's fall and winter 2019 presentation during the Feb. 4 men's shows at New York Fashion Week.
Looks from Sundae School’s fall and winter 2019 presentation during the Feb. 4 men’s shows at New York Fashion Week. (Jeannie Sui Wonders)

“Fashion and apparel is where you [currently] see the highest forms of branding,” he said. “You go to the Chanel show or the Y-Project show, and they’re exuberantly telling their stories — not directly, though, but through images [and] through garments. That sort of brand development and narrative development hasn’t really been taking place in the cannabis industry because it’s a new, growing industry. What we’re most excited about is the branding landscape in cannabis.”

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Adam Tschorn on Los Angeles Times
Published: April 05, 2019
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