In the age of fast fashion, where runway trends trickle down to our favorite high street retailers in a matter of weeks, emerging online shops have to keep up with the industry’s ever-increasing pace. So when Jessica C. Lee left her position at Gap Inc.’s e-commerce division to launch her own e-boutique, Modern Citizen, she knew monthly deliveries of new clothing and accessories would be necessary in order to compete with the rest of the online market. Add in a strong editorial component and an incredibly accessible price point—most Modern Citizen offerings ring in at under $100—and it’s easy to see why this new trend-driven online haunt has caught our attention. Read on to meet the site’s founder and learn more about Modern Citizen’s mission; then, click through above to shop the company’s brand new October lookbook, debuting here on Luckymag.com!
Lucky: Tell us a bit about your fashion industry background and past experience.
Jessica C. Lee: I’ve always been fascinated by building a brand online, and I spent most of my early career at Gap Inc. as a business strategist focusing on e-commerce and launching new ventures. I always knew I wanted to start my own business, so I made sure that each step in my career taught me something about fashion and how the retail industry operates—everything from interning at a fashion magazine to learning the ins and outs of merchandising, product development and marketing.
Share Modern Citizen’s mission statement with us. Who’s your target customer?
We’re creating a lifestyle destination focused on a specific customer, the Modern Citizen—a woman who is sophisticated, ambitious, and leading an interesting, creative life. One way we actually showcase our customer is through our It Girl Confidential series. This month, for instance, we’re featuring Suja Juice founder Annie Lawless, who’s just about to turn 26 and is a founder of one of the fastest growing juice companies in the U.S. Creative professionals like Annie, with a strong sense of individuality and personal style, are quintessential Modern Citizens. The company was born out of my interest in offering something I felt was missing in the marketplace—sophisticated, urban elegance with a distinctive edge at an accessible price point (our average piece is $60, and nearly everything on the site retails under $200). We strive to offer clothes that are cool and wearable, but still very chic—a more refined, elevated take on fast fashion.
Modern Citizen delivers new collections on a monthly basis. Why so often?
We’re in a world where new trends and tastemakers emerge on a daily basis. Most fast fashion chains introduce hundreds of new items daily, which can be more than a little daunting; and the seasonal collections being presented by designers 2-3 times a year during Fashion Weeks unfortunately just aren’t immediately available. We felt a monthly collection was that perfect middle ground. Our customer can participate now with a curated collection of what’s on trend and relevant, but not feel overwhelmed in the process.
Where is your office, and how big is your team thus far?
Our office is in the Russian Hill neighborhood of San Francisco, and we have a small (but mighty!) team of four.
Tell me a bit about your October collection. What inspired it, and which pieces are your favorites in particular?
Our October collection is military-inspired, with transitional leather separates and easy knits in a warm, neutral palette. Every piece is a versatile off-duty staple with innate attitude—meant for those days when you want a bit of extra edge. My favorite pieces are our Simon Studded Sandals (the easiest, goes-with-everything shoe), Side-Striped Track Pants (perfect for the office or a relaxed weekend look) and Cropped Sequin Top (loose-fitting and pairs great with a high-waisted bottom, and is lined with jersey to make it soft and comfortable).
Who is your own personal style icon for all seasons?
Mélanie Huynh, a former Vogue Paris editor and now freelance stylist. Her style is that perfect blend of timeless and quintessentially modern.
Describe your own personal style. What are we most likely to see you wearing on any given day? Who are a few of your favorite designers?
My personal style is elegant and understated, though I like to always incorporate an interesting element (like a leather trim or pop of neon) to add some edge. I love designers who have really signature, striking pieces that you can mix and match effortlessly with the types of items we offer at Modern Citizen, high-low style. My go-tos are 3.1 Phillip Lim, A.L.C. and Isabel Marant.