At first, Ms Holly Jovenall’s story sounds like the beginning of an early 2000s Americana movie. Growing up on a ranch a couple of hours outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she relocated to the Golden State in search of, well, something. “I moved to California with $2,000 and two suitcases. I thought I was going to be a dancer, and I moved to LA because I couldn’t afford New York.”
It’s a good job she made the leap. Fast forward a few years, and Ms Jovenall is something of a self-styled star of the West Coast, and the mastermind behind one of the most exciting brands to emerge from the LA fashion scene. Her label, BILLY, has been worn by a star-studded roster of musicians and celebrities (everyone from Wiz Khalifa to Ms Kim Kardashian West are fans), and specialises in creating clothes that sit on a satisfying axis between workwear and streetwear and has somehow managed to marry these two seemingly-opposite styles into something really quite special.
Workwear jackets and sweatpants might be everywhere in LA (and the rest of the world), but BILLY represents expertise in the craft of contemporary clothing rather than jumping on a bandwagon. This is perhaps because Ms Jovenall is a total vintage nerd, but despite this she doesn’t seem stuck in the past: “I love vintage, I’m always looking how to move everything forward. I always start with a base fabric, but there’s always a process with every fabric that I do, whether it’s me grinding or hand-destructing it myself or at the wash house playing with a really heavy-duty Japanese nylon,” she explains. Evading the crude logo- and slogan-heavy barrages that streetwear all too often falls victim to, the clothes are stealthily high-end without shouting about it: “I want everything to have a feeling to it, without expressing through a bunch of graphics and that kind of thing.”