Launched in early 2015 by Chanelle Laurence and Christian Ojeda, Los Angeles streetwear label Valley High came out of the gate strong and was quickly embraced as a fresh new fave by female streetwear aficionados. Cut and sewn locally, Valley High designs are rooted in low-key Cali style made special through color stories and details reflecting Laurence and Ojeda’s unique take on the culture.
Having worked with Freshjive, Supra, and Primitive over the past decade Ojeda for the most part is the brains behind the graphics, while Laurence focuses on how Valley High is felt, seen experienced and most importantly, how the garments look on a woman’s body.
Our West Coast correspondent Soleil B. met with Laurence and Ojeda and learned a ton about the brand, along with the duo’s thoughts on social media, the current state of streetwear along with great L.A. spots that rep for the realer side of the City’s culture. Check it out below.
Snobette: Do you two work from your homes or have a dedicated work space?
Chanelle Laurence: “This year Christian started working at [skateboard company] Primitive and I’ve been handing more of the day to day, and then we use weekends to have meetings and discuss strategy. We work out of our apartment still, which I think is really cool. Every little fun and monumental thing that has happened, we’ve got to experience it together.”
Christian Ojeda: “Even with full time jobs, creatives and designers are always freelancing no matter what, it’s just a matter of juggling & hustling different projects. I have Fridays and the weekends off so that is time I can dedicate to just the brand.”
Snobette: Social media has become a critical way to stay in touch with the customer. What is the one app you think you could drop and it wouldn’t make a difference?
Chanelle Laurence: “I would say Facebook though Facebook Live is something that is really taking off, which I’m interested in and would like to explore. It’s cool because it has the Periscope vibe but it’s already installed in an app we already always use. With Twitter, I love it from a personal standpoint, but as a brand it’s so hard to really find your voice there and have people engage.”
Christian Ojeda: “Facebook, only because the demographic has changed and it’s been around for a really long time. There’s a lot of newer and more exciting platforms. Also Twitter because there is less of a visual aspect in comparison to the other platforms.”
Snobette: As important as social media is, how do you stay connected to the culture that inspires you?
Chanelle Laurence: “We only come out with two collections a year so it can be hard for us to be new and exciting all year long so we’ve been focusing on ways to keep in tune with our customers. When it comes to retail you can’t just go shopping anymore, it has to be an experience, just like anything else in life.”
Christian Ojeda: “Things have changed a lot due to fast fashion and how quickly trends now move. We’ve had to figure out how to take a step back and truly figure out our customer base that brings it back to the roots and that loyalty to a brand. That’s the aspect that has changed a lot because you have buyers more concerned with trend and price and less so with brand. While bomber jackets are hot right now, we wanted to create a vibe where people go for our bomber jacket because of what it represents.”
Snobette: ValleyHigh is very much about SoCal culture. If you had a friend visiting for the weekend, what spots would take him/her?
Christian Ojeda: “One thing we could definitely agree on would be In-N- Out. It’s a very California staple burger joint and of course any good Mexican food is key. For shopping, maybe Fairfax & Melrose can provide a good taste of streetwear, plus it’s such a cool block to see. There’s so much energy over there.”
Chanelle Laurence: “Shout out to Cactus Taqueria in West Hollywood. The Dime is really fun to drink at because you have that same crowd from Fairfax and that energy and they play the best hip hop. It’s like the ultimate West Coast type of tiny little dive bar in my opinion. There’s also this bar called Adults Only where a friend of ours is a DJ.”
Snobette: West Coast and East Coast street style are still fairly distinct. What do you think is the main difference between the two?
Chanelle Laurence: “I really paid attention to this while we were in New York because I was wondering why we felt like we really stood out. It’s so bright and nice in L.A. that we are conditioned to wear sunglasses all the time, even inside and that is one huge difference tied to location. Also, we are really laid back. I literally go to the club in like high-waist jeans, crop top and heels, whereas in New York I’m not sure something like that would really fly.”
Christian Ojeda: “In New York you kind of have to be dressed for the entire day and evening if you’re planning on going out after work. Here, you dress up really casual and after work you go home and change into the next thing. In general we dress a little cozier here, the joggers, crewnecks, sweaters, fleece, tee-shirts. Being from the West Coast we’ve always been very influenced by skate and surf culture. So although we may not put palm trees on everything, you could picture the look fitting in next to a palm tree with the blue skies and great weather.”
Snobette: Your brand is best described as streetwear, and yet the category is in flux. Does it even exist?
Chanelle Laurence: “When I think streetwear, I think bold graphics and prints but it’s gotten so minimal because of the Yeezy influence. I’d never go printless and neutral although we do see the buying curve going that way. We want to bring the girly side in, too, so our girls didn’t have to go to Forever21 to find a dress. We wanted to create a one-stop-shop and keep the edgy fun Cali style in the dresses, skirts and overall look of the label.”
Christian Ojeda: “Working in streetwear on thing I realized is Chanelle would wear a lot of my stuff. While there were brands out there addressing women’s streetwear, a lot of times it had either a very girly vibe to it. I wanted to come up something that could empower woman with graphics referring to them as a ‘boss’ or phrases like that. Instead, let’s give them bold graphics that a guy would see and be impressed with, like ‘Yo, what is that? I’d run that super hard.’ So what we came up with was instead of your girlfriend raiding your boyfriend’s closet is to think of the concept of your boyfriend raiding your girlfriend’s closet. We still have a full collection that includes the dresses and things like that, but also include the athletic and leisure silhouettes that are more unisex.”
Snobette: What is your goal for Valley High in 2017?
Chanelle Laurence: “I just want to concentrate on just building with the Valley High girls and really create something awesome experiences for her. We’ve been working a lot of collaborations, I’d like to keep that going & work with other cool brands.”
Christian Ojeda: “Keep building. Keep going. We are working on a lot of new ideas and we want to expand our collections. An office would be sweet. Just building more awareness. Everyday that we are doing this, we have our goals & they are constantly changing.”