Courtney Bennett & Stephanie Giorgio’s inspiration for Penumbra fashion line
The idea came from a series of passionate discussions. Courtney Bennett and Stephanie Giorgio, both working in the field of fashion, repeatedly came back to debating and dissecting the fashion business. As big-time travelers, they desired a wardrobe that was simultaneously easy to carry and very versatile, full of chic staple pieces that could work as day or evening options. They envisioned a neutral, unadorned collection with pieces catchy enough to stand alone or able to pop with statement accessories.
Addressing this perceived gap in the market, the two took the plunge and launched Penumbra spring 2009. The next fall, Penumbra was exhibited – and well received. The looks, both contemporary and chic, range from $150 to $400.
The end pieces—a line of seasonless jersey separates—are subtle in a mix of neutral and muted tones, blending understated modernism with experimental tailoring and managing to be elegant yet innately cool.
“The most feedback we hear is that there are no limits to the age or body type for most of the styles, so the consumer is very broad in range,” Giorgio said.
The designers bill Penumbra as easy to buy, easy to sell and easy to wear.
Pre-Penumbra, Bennett and Giorgio had a long history in the fashion industry, both in the business side and the creative side. Bennett, a former FIT student, has experience as a buyer for a contemporary specialty store and as an editor for quite a few national publications, while Giorgio worked for 10 years in marketing and brand positioning at various fashion firms.
Since owning and overseeing a business is a first for the designers, Giorgio reports it has been a learning process.
“To be honest, every day there is something that happens—big or small—that surprises us,” Giorgio said. “(It’s been an) experience that always teaches us something new.”
While both are passionate about the art of fashion, Giorgio believes each brings something different to the table.
“We both have a similar vision for the line, so that makes it easy, and we haven't really seen a downside to our partnership,” Giorgio said. “We both have strengths in different areas of the operational side, which serves us well, but the creative and design side is always a joint effort.”
When designing, the two particularly visualized the collection as perfect for the California shopper: layerable and able to be worn year-round.
Today, with a few lines under their belt, they have definitely acquired some know-how, including a sense of what works.
“Now that we've had a few seasons, we can start to analyze what our customers are loving and what they are coming back for more of,” Giorgio said.
Future plans include to market the line in more department stores and to evolve their color palette.