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Fashion mash-up

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    Fighting Eel’s popular palazzo pants paired with a green wrap top by Matt Bruening in a palm print designed by Jordan Higa.
    Fighting Eel and designer Matt Bruening joined forces to create a collection they’re hoping both their clientele will love. Pieces range from $38 to $165.

The customers for local brands Fighting Eel and Matt Bruening are as different as night and day.

Fighting Eel describes its clientele as career women and young moms, ages 25 to 55, who are over trends but still want to look modern and who place high value on comfort and quality. The Fighting Eel customer shines during the day.

Bruening says his girl "is a little more rough around the edges, an edgy urban tomboy." She’s likely to be prowling the clubs by night.

Both brands are hoping their girls will find common ground now that they have joined forces to create the first-time MB+FE collection, which will be in Fighting Eel stores beginning tomorrow.

The collection marks the start of the new year and the start of a second decade for Fighting Eel, whose co-owners, Lan Chung and Rona Bennett, had begun talking to Bruening eight months ago about "wanting to something different and fun," Bennett said.

The collection comprises 14 mix-and-match pieces that feature Fighting Eel’s signature ease and day-to-night versatility. The line also showcases Bruening’s sporty tops with seam line details for added interest, as well as raglan sleeves and asymmetrical vented backs that show skin.

"He’s known for his wraps that we produced in a palm print designed by Jordan Higa," Bennett said. "We did the production on all the fabrics, including the palm print, arrow print and stripes. We always try to include a stripe because our customers love them."

The tops and wraps pair well with Fighting Eel’s popular palazzo pants, as well as pieces from earlier seasons.

"What I love about it is that it’s accessible to our customer but still subtly edgy," Bennett said.

Bruening, who’s accustomed to working alone, said the collaboration provided a learning experience as far as seeing how other designers work, and he appreciated the team effort.

"It was great having them open up their operation and let me in. When there are three designers at work, there are a lot of opinions and suggestions. When I’m working on my own, I don’t have that kind of feedback. It was good to see that they were not going to go with the first idea, but keep working on how to execute a design the way we should so that in the end everyone is happy, most of all the customer. It forced me to think more retail."

The hardest part about working with another designer is that both want the collection to represent their respective brands. Bruening’s goal was to find the sweet spot where the FE girl and MB girl connect, which is in finding clothes that are stylish yet comfy enough to live in at all hours.

In the end both are hoping the collaboration will win them a second look from each other’s demographic. "It’ll give them a new option to shop," Bruening said.

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