Meet Jamie Loeks Duffield, who makes comfy, classic clothes as the founder of Grand Rapids-based Duffield Lane
By Rachel Schostak
1. Tell us about your background. I have a bit of a roundabout way into the fashion industry. I started off my career in law doing international finance in Miami. For undergrad I went to Georgetown in Washington, D.C. and then wound up at U of M for law school and moved to Miami to practice. I had done a lot of work in law school working for a clinic that set up small businesses, so I always had a dream of wanting to have my own business.
2. What inspired you to start Duffield Lane? I had this idea of making pajamas or loungewear that you’re not embarrassed to be seen in — something that was really nice quality, classic [and] that I could wear around my mother-in-law when I visited the family that wasn’t goofy or too sexy.
While I was a lawyer, on nights and weekends I started researching and talking to different people about fashion production and design. I ended up hooking up with the right people that introduced me to a factory in Peru and I worked with someone to help me put my designs on paper. We sourced these incredibly nice cottons out of Peru and put together this nice line of classic loungewear. This was our first collection, and we realized when we started selling the loungewear that people were not just wearing these items to sleep in. There was this market for comfortable, classic clothes.
We launched in 2014 and going on six years later, we are still working with a factory in Peru [and] doing most of the line in really nice Peruvian cottons. We’ve grown a ton since then — we still do pajamas once a year, but mostly we do ready-to-wear. We now do five different collections a year and work in a lot of different fabrics.
At first it started out just as me, with my mom and husband helping me. We built it slowly and tried keeping it smaller because we are focused on customer service and a personal approach with all our different wholesale and retail customers.
3. What does the company’s name mean? Duffield is my last name. When I started the company I was engaged and this is my married name. I wanted it to be personal and I thought Duffield Lane gave us the classic feel we were going for.
4. What kinds of styles do you carry? What do you see coming in the future? [We carry] classic knit pieces (cotton, cotton spandex dresses, leggings, dresses and tops), a woven line (woven cottons, dresses, tops, shorts) and we recently launched a line of cover ups as part of our resort collection. We’ve been expanding our girl’s line [which features] complementary mommy-and-me styles from sizes 2-16, and for every collection I do a baby style as well.
In the future I would love to carry a men’s line so that we can carry clothing for the whole family.
5. Three words to describe Duffield Lane? Classic, quality, fit
6. Where is Duffield Lane sold? On duffieldlane.com, [via our] small boutique in Grand Rapids, and in about 300 stores across the U.S., mostly on the East Coast, from Florida up to Maine. In Michigan, find the brand at Rear Ends in West Bloomfield, Brass Anchor in Saugatuck and Tulips in Bay Harbor. .
7. Three words to describe your personal style? Classic, preppy, comfortable
8. Who inspires you in the fashion and business world? I’ve always followed Tory Burch. [Her brand is] very similar in style to what we do — it’s slightly preppy and little bit bohemian. I love what they do.
In terms of mentors in the business world, I would say my mom. She ran a business with my dad and they were entrepreneurs so I grew up in that kind of family. They owned Star Theatres and ran Sony theatres across the country. She is my go-to when I have business questions or need advice.
9. You are never fully dressed without… Your classic jewelry pieces. [Like] my favorite bracelet, wedding band and earrings that I wear all the time.
10. Favorite quote or words to live by? Our mantra at Duffield Lane is “keep it classic.” I love having something that is trendy and new but I always want to be able to look back at what I was wearing and not regret it.
11. If you had to live in one Duffield Lane piece, what would it be? One of my favorite dresses we’ve done — and that we do every year — called the Spring Lake Dress. It has a nice, A-line fit and three-quarter sleeves [and it’s] very classic. I throw it on and it instantly feels like spring.