AE Friends & Family: Stacy M., Senior AEO Performance Designer

AE Friends & Family: Stacy M., Senior AEO Performance Designer

Learn more about our AEO Performance designer, Stacy M., and her passion for fitness, design, and American Eagle Outfitters.

How did you discover your passion for design?

I discovered my passion for design from my mother who owns a clothing boutique.  When I was in elementary school I would play dress-up in beautiful designer clothes, waiting for her to get off work and that was definitely inspiring.  From the time I was in seventh grade I knew I was going to pursue design.

How did you get your start as a designer?

My first college internship was for a company that designs dance performance costumes and gymnastic leotards.  While working there, they were designing leotards for the 1996 Olympics gymnastics team.  Having such an exciting experience there is what sparked my interest in performance wear.

What’s next on your “Life To Do” list?

Plan a proper vacation!  Basically, relax on a beach and catch up on a few good books.

What is a typical day at work like for you?

It’s unexpected and fast paced, so I guess there is no typical day.  I love my job because of the creativity and new challenges that come up every day.  One day I can be on the streets of NYC checking out what new, cool things are happening and the next day I could be traveling overseas looking at samples for future seasons.

How do you try to stay active in your life?

Living in NYC you walk everywhere, which is great exercise.  I also take pilates classes and love outdoor activities. I just got back from white water rafting and I’m still sore.  It was a great workout, a bit scary and exciting at the same time.

What is your favorite part of your job?

First and foremost are the people I work with: They are absolutely the favorite part of my work.  Second, is working every season to design the perfect items for our customers. I enjoy the challenge of finding the balance between functionality and fashion.

How does your work influence your personal style?

I have the chance to look at runway shows and magazines for inspiration, which definitely influences my personal style.  I also like to incorporate active inspired pieces into my every day wardrobe.  This is the idea we had when designing the line.

What’s on your summer workout playlist?

What I’m listening to now is Daft Punk, JT, Alt-j, Divine Fits and Jay Z.  I love music and try to find new upbeat albums that are great for working out.

What is your favorite piece from the Performance collection? Favorite jean fit?

My favorite piece is the tech crop.  The fabric is soft, has amazing compression and there is pop color stitching on the design lines which are so flattering.  I am also a big fan of our Crossback Bra (med impact) – it’s so comfortable and really works!!! My favorite AE jean fit is the Hi-Rise Jegging.  It’s a perfect fit and great for day into night.

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Behind the Seams: AEO Performance

Behind the Seams: AEO Performance

We spoke with AEO Performance Senior Designer Stacy M. about the technical advantages, fashion details, and inspiration for our new performance line. Read on to learn more about why you should buy AEO Performance.

Who or what did you pull inspiration from to design the AEO Performance line?

The AE girl!  It’s easy when you have such a cool customer to take inspiration from.  We wanted to incorporate her fashion trends with functional fabrics to create a line that is fresh, new and relatable.  The idea is to have pieces that are great to wear before or after your workout as well as during your favorite sport or activity.

How is designing performance wear different than designing everyday clothes?

There are many factors we take into consideration while designing AEO performance. Most importantly is the fabric and how it reacts with different workouts.  Secondly, the silhouette is designed with full movement and comfort in mind no matter what sport or activity is taking place.  We also think about how the seams and fabric effect your workout, such as breathability, chaffing, scratching or itching against the skin.  Lastly, we think about all activities from serious runners to yoga and pilates to a girl who wants to wear our performance line to class. 

What is your favorite way to live your life healthfully?

I like to eat healthy, try new workout classes and have fun while doing it.   I’m also a strong advocate for everything in moderation.  If you want that hot fudge Sunday or box of popcorn, make sure to balance it during the week with fresh fruits and salads.

How would you style Performance wear outside the gym?

The line is so great because it’s designed to be worn inside and outside the gym, any day of the week!  Our basic black bottoms and fleece crop pants are comfortable and perfect to match with our fashion tops.  The peplum tanks and tee are great to wear with our bottoms or your favorite AEO jean fit.  We also have a white windbreaker that you can layer with any outfit.

If you could spend the day with any sports professional, who would it be and why?

I’m a big sports fan so I have a few. NY Giants’ QB Eli Manning is high up on the list, but Carmelo Anthony, Serena Williams and a few of the amazing female surfers out there would probably have a lot to teach me. I would hope to gain a little bit of insight as to how they balance their demanding profession with everyday life.

How does AEO Performance fabric stand out from other fitness line materials? Tell us a little more about the construction.

We have worked really hard developing the perfect fabric for our customer and I think we’ve done it.  It has wicking, which keeps you cool and dry during your most strenuous workouts – and there is a moss finish added that gives the fabric a super soft hand feel.   Our black core fabric used in bottoms has black spandex to reduce the shine when bending and moving while working out.  The best part about this fabric is the compression (really sucks you in/everyone loves their butt to look great!) and of course has a really great price.

What special details make AEO Performance different than other lines?

AEO stands for quality and detail.  All of our bottoms have signature waistband stitch details on the back as well as a hidden waistband pocket to hold your ID and money.  We always think about feminine details like ruffles and pretty mesh fabrics along with function details like zipper pockets on our run tops and reflective trims on the bottoms and running jackets.

AEO Performance is constructed with flat seams – what do flat seams do for the customer?

Flat seams are used to decrease the amount chaffing or scratching to the skin, which makes our styles more comfortable to wear.  Sleep in them if you want – they are super comfy!

What physical activities is AEO Performance best suited for, or are there specific pieces for certain activities?

The line is designed for the most intensive activities to simply wearing it everyday. Hence our tagline “great for a workout or a hangout”.  We have styles suited for running, cardio, yoga, spin, dance and for just hanging out with friends.

How can customers best take care of their AEO Performance gear?

Always follow the care instructions on the inside of each garment!

How versatile are the pieces between different seasons?

All the styles are very versatile throughout the year.  Depending on your workout of choice, we offer four core bottom lengths that work year round along with an assortment of tanks and tees for any style of activity.  For colder months we also offer 2nd layer pieces that are amazing for layering to and from the gym or for outdoor activities.

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Introducing: Vintage & 1977

Introducing: Vintage & 1977

Where did you pull inspiration from to create the newest fragrances (Vintage and 1977)?
We pull inspiration from all over. Often times we pull ideas straight from the runway to help guide color or print. Other times it could be a really amazing one-off item found at a thrift store. I think the best inspiration is where it is unexpected. The camouflage for 1977 came from the runway and the print on the Vintage bottle was actually inspired by the yoke of a beautiful top.

What part do “noses”—people who have an elevated sense of smell and often work in perfuming—play in the development of AEO fragrances?
We work with some of the best fragrance houses and “noses” in the world. The process starts with perfumers from different fragrance houses creating scents based on the concepts/direction provided. Our fragrance vendor, another “nose,” narrows down the scents provided by the fragrance houses and presents the top 15-30+ scents to us. Next, Katherine and I review, wear and spray everyone around us until we have 3-4 per gender we love. Those favorite fragrances then move forward to in-store testing where the winning scent is determined.

How many people test the fragrance before it is finished? Explain the process a little bit!
Normally, there are about 2-3 people involved in narrowing 30+ fragrances down to three scents. Once we have 3-4 fragrances that we feel really strongly about, we put it in our customers’ hands to make the final choice. We typically survey around 200 customers in AEO stores to pick our fragrances.

What are the base notes used in the fragrance?
Each fragrance has notes separated into three groups: top notes, middle notes and base notes. The top notes are the initial impression, the mid notes are the “heart” of the fragrance and the base notes are the longest lasting, normally not perceived until 30 minutes after application.

Women’s Vintage – Base Notes: Praline, Musk, Blonde Woods

Men’s 1977 – Base Notes: Precious Woods, Patchouli, Warm Musk

What are the middle notes in the fragrance?
Women’s Vintage – Mid Notes: White Flowers, Lotus Flower, Rose

Men’s 1977 – Mid Notes: Cedarleaf, Clary Sage, Flowering Basil

What are the unique top notes in the fragrance?
Women’s Vintage – Top Notes: Mandarin, Juicy Apple, Red Mango

Men’s 1977 – Top Notes: Dewy Greens, Ozone, Bergamot

Describe the newest scents with one adjective.
Women’s Vintage: Glamorous

Men’s 1977: Masculine

What kind of situations are the fragrances best suited for (day, night, summer, winter, special occasion, etc.)?
All of our fragrances are created with everyday wear in mind; however, I love having different fragrances for different occasions. I think scent should be treated like a shoe and no shoe goes with everything (I honestly have a beach scent, a night scent, a date scent, etc.). Vintage is really glamorous so I think it is perfect for special occasions. 1977 is a man’s fragranceit’s very masculine and great for a night out with the guys (plus the ladies will love it)!

How do you design a fragrance bottle? What special details are included in these bottle?
Creating a fragrance bottle is a very detailed process. We have established a bottle shape that is unique to American Eagle, so our challenge is making new launches look and feel special on the same bottle shape. A good example of this is Women’s Methis bottle was inspired by mercury glass. We worked with our vendor for months to achieve the beautiful metallic finish. There are so many techniques and processes that can be done so it is really trial and error until you have the perfect bottle.

Can you explain the best places to spray fragrance and why?
“Where should one use perfume?” a young woman asked. “Wherever one wants to be kissed.” – Coco Chanel

Fragrance creation is thousands of years old. What do you think is the allure of fragrance?
Scent is very personal and a driving force behind attraction. It has also evolved greatly over time but has always been an item of prestige. I think the allure is a combination of both attraction and prestige.

How do you develop fragrances that are fresh and current?
Fragrance houses are always on top of scent trend and they help guide us. They will tell us what notes are trending, like rose or black pepper. Then we incorporate those notes when we deem appropriate for our customer.

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