An interview with the forces behind ARGENT Sali Christeson and Eleanor Turner
What inspired ARGENT?
Sali: As a woman working in finance and tech, for years, I was both frustrated and bemused by the lack of workwear options. Getting dressed for work every day was an absolute cluster because of the massive gap in availability of work attire that crosses the divide between office appropriate and personal style. After years of thinking about the problem and recognizing the significance of appearance on other’s perception and career advancement, I left the tech industry to find a solution.
Eleanor: When Sali asked me to help her launch a line of women’s work apparel, I was not immediately enthusiastic. Traditionally, the category has been vapid and uninspiring. When I realized the complete lack of options and void of functionality and style in this category, I knew that we could build a brand that turned the category on its head, armed women with confidence and encouraged them to break the rules.
What are your backgrounds? What did you both do before you started ARGENT?
Eleanor: After studying design at SCAD, I moved to NYC and worked in Marketing, PR and Design for Tommy Hilfiger Collection. From there, I got start-up experience from a budding menswear brand, but missed designing for women. I moved back into women’s design with Tory Burch and J.Crew. After almost a decade working for these iconic American fashion brands, I decided to take on a new challenge with Argent.
Sali: After studying at Furman University, I worked in banking for a number of years. I then went on to get my MBA at University of South Carolina. From there I made the transition into the tech world – joining Cisco’s Supply Chain Organization. My last role at Cisco was as a Customer Advocacy Manager on the Cloud team. And then I decided to take the plunge.
What are your core styles?
- Crossover Blazer
- Straight Leg Trouser
- Tuck Jumpsuit
- Hi-Tech Ponte Dress
- Colorblocked Blouse
Who is ARGENT’s customer?
Sali: We are trying to reach ambitious, career driven women who are frustrated by the lack of options in today’s workwear market. Our customer does not consider herself stylish and our goal is to make getting dressed for work more intuitive (and fun!). Given that she derives confidence from her clothing and that time is her greatest luxury, we want to streamline her life and inspire her however we can.
Functionality in clothing seems to be reserved for athletic and outdoor wear, what made you change that?
Eleanor: If you look at menswear, it has always had a utilitarian aspect to it. Unfortunately, womenswear has not received the same level of attention. It has lost touch with utility over the years, favoring decoration over function. In workwear, historically women haven’t even been offered something as basic as pockets. Women are, and should be expecting more out of their clothing, especially with the rise of athleisure and the functionality it provides. Times and office environments are changing. We are addressing these changes in a number of ways, but foremost with functionality–providing women with whatever they need to streamline their lives and take charge at work without sacrificing style.
Where do your ideas for function come from? Do you look at menswear?
Eleanor: In many ways, the design process for Argent is a game of problem solving. I spoke with young women across industries (and my co-founder, Sali) to hear their frustrations with their work clothes. I asked myself, can I supply a more quality, more thoughtful product that solves problems? The answer was yes. Ultimately, I am inspired by the functionality of menswear, but moreover, that it was the birthplace of American style. I’m throwing it back and engineering details into the clothes that are inspired by the daily routines of the women we are trying to reach.
photography Shannon Soule
style Ryen Blaschke
make up Megan Kelly
model Lucinda Schaefers
words Ta’Kerra Hall