Bedhead Pajamas Approaches Two Decades in Business
Ask anyone in LA and they’ll tell you about Bedhead Pajamas. You’ve seen them on hit TV show The Mindy Project and on Oprah’s list, and the entire Kardashian clan sported striped PJs from Bedhead at Kim’s second baby shower. But chances are, your friends and neighbors also own PJs from this West 3rd Street institution.
We spoke to creative designer and president Renee Claire to find out more about her start, the evolution of PJs and why Oprah was a pivotal moment in her company’s history…
1. Tell us how you got into designing?
From a very early age, I would shop for fabrics and patterns with my three sisters and crank out simple dresses and skirts from the basement of our modest house in Canada. As sisters, we reveled in new patterns that McCall doled out periodically. We thought of these patterns as precious entries for a one-of-a-kind sewn gem. Not only could you choose your pattern, you could choose the fabric you wished for your divine creation. Two sisters had the knack of choosing fabrics, another for construction and myself, I loved the pressing of the pattern and the absolute finality of cutting the cloth. So a hodgepodge assembly line would begin, with a call-out to mom when the invisible zipper needed to be sewn for the finale. It’s a skill I still marvel at to this day.
2. What inspired you to launch Bedhead? Why pajamas?
After college, I managed to find my way down to LA for a six-month planned excursion. I have been here now for over three decades. When I arrived in the wild ’80s, the city was alive with enticing forms of music, dance and design. I was thrilled to be allowed in the mix.
For ten years, I focused on dresses. The line was called Renee Claire, precious, high-end dinner dresses that were snapped up by Fred Segal, Saks, Sumiko and many small boutiques. At the end of the decade, dresses fell out of fashion and I was casting for my next chapter, when I had a flash of an idea to create pajamas. I was delivering what I thought might be my last round of dresses to a loyal store called Picket fences (still there today on Larchmont) and in her window were not dresses, but pajamas! I thought, ‘Wow, I could top that. Maybe that’s my direction!” From there, Bedhead was born!
3. It’s been 19 years! Where do you draw inspiration to create new collections, prints and patterns?
I have to say that I have a great passion for the design aspect of creating whimsical, yet sophisticated pajamas. I draw my inspiration from all aspects of life. Each month we have a set of ten new patterns that we launch; sometimes they inter-relate, sometimes only through the color combinations does it all tie in. Today for instance, I decided to walk through a few local retail stores. I found myself at noodie stories on West 3rd, always a thrill, then to The Grove ( ery uninspired, but I wanted to see the new Elizabeth and James offerings) then onto Opening Ceremony to see if I could score a dress on sale. I take in everything; I’m very observant, looking for a sewing detail that thrills or a color combination that sends me chills. This process of always looking and staying open, has served me well.
4. How have pajama trends changed over the past 19 years?
PJs took center stage on the runways in the last five years, as many top designers added this category to their repertoire. It was thrilling to see the category soar on the high end, with many fashionistas taking it to the streets. I encourage our clientele to wear the top out with their fave jeans, or the bottoms with a classic T-shirt. Anything is possible in the mix, as the cottons we specialize in are rare and beautiful and hold up over time. Also, in recognition of this, I decided to do the reverse: relaunch Renee Claire. We are now offering funky skirts and shirts as a new launch at the store.
5. How can people find the right PJs for them?
If you can make it to the West 3rd Street store, come by. It is an excellent way to see and feel and touch. You can try on a variety of styles to see what suits you best. Some prefer long sleeves and shorts as they like their legs free; others only the nightshirt. Our classic notch-collar PJs remain the best seller; it is the undisputed winner, and you really can’t go wrong there.
6. What have been your favorite moments so far with Bedhead?
Well, there have been numerous precious moments. The first thrill was being chosen by Oprah as one of her favorite things; it accelerated the brand beyond belief and we’ve been a media darling ever since. I contributed product for an AIDS Foundation fundraiser early on and met Elton John and Liz Taylor for a fleeting moment at that event. We have had many Bedhead spotlights throughout the years, ranging from movie and television placements to celebrity clients. We continue to have notable fans shopping on West 3rd – recently former Mayor Garcetti and his wife and daughter, Elon Musk and family, and Ron Wood and his entourage, to name a few.
7. What do you love about West 3rd Street?
For my company and for our retail history, West 3rd Street remains a highlight. It is the best street in the city for walking and shopping, and the eclectic mix remains high. I love our neighbors and embrace all the changes with enthusiasm. We are entering our seventh year and have a wonderful sales staff, managed beautifully by Adam Vargas, to take special care of all who enter.
8 Aside from Bedhead, what stores and restaurants do you like on the street?
I appreciate so many retailers and frequent them whenever I can: Joan’s on Third, Noodle stories, Douglas Fir, OK, Little Door, Pyrrha, all are so welcoming. I am looking forward to the new restaurant opening next to us, let’s see what excitement that brings.
9. What’s your best style tip and piece of advice?
Best style tip: if you say “Ahh!” when you spot a gem, then buy it! “Trust your instincts,” is a piece of advice tied into this.