Studio Visit: The Knitwear Designers of Orley

We talked with Samantha Florence and the Orley brothers about the challenges of running a family business, the difference between youthful and young, and why, unlike many of their peers, they don't wear black.


The members of the design trio behind Orley (Matthew Orley, Alex Orley, and Samantha Florence) sit just a few feet apart from one another in their studio. Not that they mind their snug quarters one bit. Given that the knitwear label is a family business—Matthew and Alex are brothers, and Samantha and Matthew are engaged—the literal and figurative closeness just might be what enables the young designers to possess such a tight, uniform vision of their brand season after season.

But rather than seeing designing within a single category as a challenge, Orley embraces it as a groundbreaking opportunity to push the established norms and explore the untapped possibilities of knits, from texture (slinky to structured) to finished product (scarves to sweatpants). And the fashion industry is taking notice.

Even though the label only launched in 2012, Orley has quickly piqued the interest of its peers. The brand was selected to be part of the prestigious CFDA Fashion Incubator program, which has helped launch some of the hottest names in the industry today (like Public School and Tim Coppens, to name just a few).

Click "View Slideshow" to view the slideshow of our tour and interview with Orley.

—Katie Chang is a writer and shopkeeper based in Brooklyn. Follow her at @katieshewrote.

How did Orley get started?

Matthew: We're family. Alex and I are brothers. Sam and I are soon to be married. This was a family company before we even started it.

Alex: It's been a long journey that's only come to fruition in the last couple years. But this has been something—even before we worked in fashion—that Matt and I had talked about for a long time, from a very young age. Sam also has a deep family history in fashion too. Her grandparents had a department store.

Samantha: It was the equivalent of a Bergdorf Goodman in Toronto, called Creed's.

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