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Childhood friends Justin Timberlake and Trace Ayala launched William Rast in 2005 with the idea of marrying Tennessee grit with Hollywood chic. Since that time, the line has found a devoted following, with a fan base that reads like a Who’s Who of fashion and A-list celebrities. Shopbop talked to Co-founder of William Rast, Trace Ayala, about his unlikely sources of inspiration, why they wanted to go beyond denim, and what he finds sexy about the way women dress.

Shopbop: Your fall runway show had a distinctly rock and roll sensibility. Who or what were some of your design inspirations for the collection?
Trace Ayala: We get our inspiration from all aspects of life really. Not so much from the fashion world as from popular culture in all its different forms–music, art, movies. We get inspired when we see an amazing new artist perform, a new work of art, or a new movie, and we build our own creativity and style from that. Of course there are great Americana influences in our work but never in an obvious vintage way. We always strive to take it to a completely new and modern level and create something with credibility. For the fall collection the main inspiration was American biker culture and the Rat Pack.

Shopbop: You were one of the few denim designers to have fashion’s elite editorial corps represented at your fall runway show. Why do you think William Rast appeals to this more fashion-forward woman?
Trace Ayala: We think William Rast appeals to any woman who does not want to try too hard with fashion but still wants to be sexy, on-trend, and express herself in a confident way. Our look is a sexy and confident tomboy look that many women can relate to, but that is hard to find in stores. We think every girl or woman should own that perfect leather jacket to go with her perfect pair of William Rast jeans.

Shopbop: Why did William Rast decide to branch out from denim into ready-to-wear?
Trace Ayala: When we started William Rast, it was really an expression of our own unique style, so we looked to traditional American denim culture for inspiration. However, at a certain point, extending our line into a full collection was a natural step since we wanted to offer a complete look to complement the denim. By adding in leather jackets, utilitarian shirts, and t-shirts that work with our classic denim pieces, we created a line of clothing that is fashionable, sexy, and wearable for a woman, whether it is for day or evening.