“COVID has changed everything,” said Commission’s Dylan Cao over a Zoom call. Cao, who designs the brand he founded with Huy Luong and Jin Kay in 2018, wasn’t kidding. The trio received a small business loan that facilitated a move to a Garment District studio, and they have also shifted to a see-now-buy-now model while reevaluating the entire premise of their brand. When the trio started Commission fresh out of Parsons, they focused on making clothing to honor their mothers’ style in the late 1980s and ’90s. Their first several seasons offered nostalgic office wear for a modern age, fusing acidy colors against Working Girl-esque shapes. For spring 2021, the designers have looked further, finding inspiration in all the women around them who helped them find success in the rough days of the pandemic.
Bringing a more female energy into their design process has yielded their most luxurious and streamlined collection yet. Their strength is being able to offer something that reads as minimal—lean beige coats, pink skirts, and geometric print tops—but is imbued with a maximalist sense of joy and self-expression. Commission’s spring 2021 coats have a funny strip of grosgrain along the hem; pencil skirts are double layered with a too-long slip underneath; and those long-sleeve tops come with thumb-holes to better mimic the sunblock tops they are inspired by. An expanded knitwear offering of oversized polos and crochet bralettes accentuate comfort without falling into the cozy-core traps of 2020 and 2021. Behind each model in their lookbook is a giant doily scrunchie, radiating a pop of white or rose like a halo and adding a sense of delight and whimsy. They would be great for Zoom calls, and for party life once we rev back into action.