How Birkenstock and PS1 Helped Make Proenza Schouler Famous

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Proenza Schouler – pronounced “Pro-en-za Skoo-ler” – is a brand you’ve likely seen on your Instagram feed.

Launched in 2002, this contemporary fashion brand embodies modern luxury with its playful silhouettes and quirky designs inspired by New York’s urban jungle.

Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, the designers behind the New York-based label Proenza Schouler, named the label after the maiden names of their mothersJack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, the designers behind the New York-based label Proenza Schouler, named the label after the maiden names of their mothers (Credit: Kristin Callahan / ACE / INSTARimages)

Founded in 2002, the brand celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2022.

Right now is the perfect time to look at the brand and why it deserves a spot in your shoe closet.

Meet Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler was founded by Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez as a womenswear and accessories brand.

Front side decoration display and design of Proenza Schouler luxury fashion store at Emquartier Bangkok shopping mallFront side decoration display and design of Proenza Schouler luxury fashion store at Emquartier Bangkok shopping mall (Credit: Saranya Phu Akat / Shutterstock)

The name ‘Prozena Schouler’ was chosen in homage to their mothers as both of their maiden names.

The pair had met as students at Parsons School of Design, creating their senior thesis together that would become Proenza Schouler’s debut collection.

Anna Wintour is seen arriving at the Proenza Schouler fashion show during New York Fashion WeekAnna Wintour is seen arriving at the Proenza Schouler fashion show during New York Fashion Week on February 11, 2022, in New York City (Credit: Startraksphoto / John Nacion)

The brand found instant success after having its first collection picked up by Barneys New York.

In 2008, Proenza Schouler introduced its first footwear collection in partnership with Giuseppe Zanotti before switching to Onward Luxury Group in 2012.

You can find Proenza Schouler at their Madison Avenue flagship in New York, along with some of the world’s most prestigious department stores.

Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Shopbop, Farfetch, and SSENSE are stockists of the brand.

Who owns Proenza Schouler?

The success of Proenza Schouler meant it was quickly touted as the next ‘it’ fashion brand.

The Valentino Fashion Group purchased a 45% stake in the brand in 2007 before Castanea Partners purchased a minority interest that led to the appointment of Judd Crane as the brand’s CEO.

At the end of 2018, McCollough and Hernandez used private investors to reclaim full ownership of Proenza Schouler by buying back the company shares.

Is Proenza Schouler a luxury brand?

While Proenza Schouler doesn’t sit on the same tier as Chanel, Hermes, and Louis Vuitton, it’s considered a contemporary luxury brand.

The brand has evolved since its foundation, moving from the seasonal ready-to-wear calendar to following the couture fashion calendar instead.

Serinda Swan wears a white Proenza Schouler long-sleeved off-the-shoulder waisted dressSerinda Swan wears a white Proenza Schouler long-sleeved off-the-shoulder waisted dress at the 2017 Summer TCA Tour ‘Disney ABC Television Group’ on August 6, 2017, in Los Angeles, California (Credit: Sara De Boer / Startraksphoto)

Proenza Schouler hosts two fashion shows a year at Paris Fashion Week since adopting the couture calendar in 2017.

Like most successful luxury brands, Proenza Schouler launched a diffusion line, ‘White Label” in 2017, focusing on casual understated pieces.

How the PS1 Became Popular

The PS1 was one of the first “blogger bags” to go viral.

In the early days of fashion bloggers, the PS1 was the style everyone wanted to be seen carrying.

Kate Bosworth carries a Proenza Schouler PS1 clutch at the official launch of the first Topshop LA storeKate Bosworth carries a Proenza Schouler PS1 clutch at the official launch of the first Topshop LA store on February 14, 2013 (Credit: Brian To / WENN)

The PS1 was Proenza Schouler’s debut handbag, launched in 2008.

The laidback unisex nature of the bag – inspired by the classic satchel silhouette – made it an instant hit.

It remains the brand’s best-seller and was named by Vogue as the ultimate ‘back to work’ bag in 2021.

Proenza Schouler x Birkenstock

Proenza Schouler’s popularity means that it’s collaborated with some of the most recognizable brands in the fashion and beauty industry, including MAC Cosmetics and J Brand.

In 2020, the brand partnered with Birkenstock to create the must-have sandal of the year. They’re among the most popular shoes at Shopbop.

A reimagined pair of Birkenstock's classic Arizona sandals made in collaboration with Proenza SchoulerA reimagined pair of Birkenstock’s classic Arizona sandals made in collaboration with Proenza Schouler

After these comfortable shoes with their minimalistic silhouette and pop of colors sold out, it’s no surprise that the collection was re-launched in 2021.

Birkenstock described the collection as being “inspired by utilitarian workwear and athletic footwear Proenza Schouler kept the integrity of Birkenstock’s iconic design while injecting urbanism and luxe”.

This striking pair of two-band Birkenstock x Proenza Schouler slides combines glossy patent leather with contrast topstitching and a legendarily comfortable footbedThis striking pair of two-band Birkenstock x Proenza Schouler slides combines glossy patent leather with contrast topstitching and a legendarily comfortable footbed

If you’re lucky to find these shoes in stock, they’re an instant ‘add to cart’.

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