Society for Rational Dress

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For Corinne Grassini, the art of apparel came naturally. “Growing up, I always made my own clothes and doctored my sister’s,” she explains. “If I babysat, I doctored the kids’ clothes—which got me in trouble sometimes.” But it never really occurred to her to make a career of her hobby. “I went to school for sociology, and then I waited tables at a Mexican restaurant in Santa Barbara, not knowing what I was going to do with myself. My mom sat me down—we were on the beach somewhere—and she said, ‘What are you doing? You’re making all these amazing clothes. Why don’t you do something with them?’” she recalls.

Corinne enrolled in design classes at Central St. Martins in London almost instantly, having determined that she needed to supplement her natural talents with some serious technical skills. “I wanted to know the entire process, and I knew that I would get stuck creatively if I didn’t,” she says. Her first company was a pattern-making outfit that allowed her to put her new abilities to use, working with designers including Maryam Nassir Zadeh. In 2004, she brought all the pieces together, launching her hard-meets-soft, L.A.-based line, Society for Rational Dress, which has evolved into one of the city’s most respected and recognizable fashion brands.

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Stock Mfg. Co.

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When Tim Tierney (left) and Mike Moriarty started contemplating the company they wanted to build, “shake things up” sat at the top of the to-do list. For one, there was the lofty goal of delivering made-in-the-USA clothes with really high-quality materials and finishes—we’re talking Japanese loomed cotton and hand-stitched hems—minus the sticker shock. “We saw how clothes get made and how hard it was to get manufacturing done at a good price, without the markups. We thought there had to be a better way to do things,” says Tim.

The two may not have traditional fashion backgrounds—Tim studied economics, and Mike’s training is in industrial design—but they both tackled a variety jobs in the apparel and manufacturing realms to learn the ropes. Which brings us to phase two of their “shake things up” scheme: Finding local production. “We’re both Midwest kids. I’ve lived in other places, but it just feels right here,” adds Mike. “Why be another voice in New York or L.A. when we can invent ourselves here?” In 2012, Tim and Mike found the ideal factory in Chicago’s West Side, and, with three other business partners, Jim Snediker, Jason Morgan, and Areill Ives, they launched Stock Mfg. Co.

What about the garments themselves? Here, the guys take a more classic approach: “We’re designing clothes we want to wear—interesting prints and fabrics, a slim but not super-slim fit,” Tim explains. That’s something guys in Illinois—and California, Virginia, Oregon, and Texas—can all appreciate. —jane gauger

stockmfg.co

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Metonym

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“I don’t think of myself as a designer. I think of myself as a builder—whether it’s food, metal, or fabric,” explains Shani Pak. Maybe that has something to do with her upbringing: Her father is a contractor, and her mother has always been up to something on the culinary front, whether that means going on hikes to forage the ingredients for herbal elixirs or making a batch of traditional Korean kimchi.

Hence, while working on a degree in industrial design at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Shani “began to deviate from the curriculum, training myself, just pursuing what was interesting to me.” Which led her, in March 2014, to quit school and launch Metonym, her jewelry collection comprised of deceptively simple creations with insane attention to detail.

A self-proclaimed “materials fiend,” Shani it big into function: how things are put together and how they can be used as tools. Though one of her Metonym chokers features a big, bold safety pin closure, most of the time Shani’s utility-lovin’ philosophy is a little more conceptual when it comes to the pieces in her line: “Find your own use for them—and do with them what you will in terms of your personal style,” she says. “It’s fascinating to see how people sculpt themselves.” carly pifer

mtnymy.com 

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Dealtry

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Growing up in the U.K., Helen Dealtry started her painting career drawing birds alongside her grandfather. “I had a chalkboard, and he would rub out chunks of my drawings and say, ‘that needs work!’” she laughs. Coming from a family of creative people—her feathered-friend-depicting grandfather, carpenter brother, and costume-creating mother among them—she was met with nothing but support when she began an intensive textile, art, and design course at age 16.

Four years and a degree from Winchester School of Art later, she found herself in New York as a trainee textile designer, where her daily work involved hand-painting motifs directly onto silk and stretched organza. “I was surrounded by incredibly talented artists like Lourdes Sanchez,” she recalls. “I’d just want to cover my work every time they walked by my desk!”

But that insecurity was just pure silliness, and, in 2011 after many years of practice and a short stint back in London, Helen had the self-possession to launch Dealtry, a line of ultra-soft patterned scarves drawing inspiration from East Asian brush painting and a bunch of ranunculus scooped up at the Chelsea Flower Market. “Every design I do starts with a hand-painted piece of paper work,” she says. “It’s really important to me to maintain a hand-done feel to my work.” So, things haven’t changed that much—but she has spread her wings. genevieve ang

wokinggirldesigns.com

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Faircloth & Supply

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Phoebe Dahl thinks big. And if her name conjures up images of giant peaches and BFGs, well, you’re on the right track: She is the granddaughter of Roald Dahl and shares a certain penchant for whimsy and storytelling. “I have always lived with my head in the clouds, having dreams bigger than humanly possible,” she says. “I’m the product of growing up in a family that would say that no dream was ever too big.”

Instead of putting her tales down in novels, Phoebe tells them in clothes, in the form of the roomy dresses and the lounge-y overalls that make up her linen-centric line Faircloth & Supply, which she founded in Los Angeles in 2013 after conquering some major wanderlust. Hopping from FIDM in San Francisco to the London College of Fashion, Phoebe then worked as an assistant to a designer in Amsterdam. It was on a business trip to Japan that things clicked for her: “Touring around so many inspiring shops and beautiful linen mills, I left Tokyo with a reignited itch, stronger than ever, to start designing myself.”

And here’s where the story gets even more interesting: Phoebe is hardcore about supporting women’s groups around the world—she’s passionate about donating uniforms to schoolgirls in Nepal, and her next venture is sourcing fabrics hand-printed by artisans in Africa. She has some major plans for expansion, too. “Next could be woven backpacks and espadrilles from Mexico, and beautiful soaps and lotions from France!” she explains. “The options are endless, but one constant binds them together: Everything will be made by, or will benefit, women who live in economic strife and otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to lift themselves and their families out of poverty and into society.” That’s a narrative we can most definitely get behind. —carly pifer

fairclothsupply.com

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The Stowe

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There was a time, not so long ago, when Molly Spittal’s life felt like a giant puzzle—with one piece missing. She had gone to fashion school in Vancouver, had worked for various designers, and had considered starting her own apparel line, but, as she says, “It just never felt right.”

All it took was one crappy accessory for everything to fall into place. Molly had scored a leather belt that was perfect in every way except for its short lifespan, and when it fell apart, she went hunting for someone who could save it. “I brought it down to this leather shop, and the guy there basically showed me how to fix it,” she recalls. “It was the moment I fell in love with leather.”

Molly doesn’t have traditional training in that realm, but that’s hardly stopped her: She’s been making bags since 2011, and, in 2013, she went full-time on her impossibly slick, Montreal-based line The Stowe. As of now, each duffle, belt, and keychain is hand-cut and -stitched by Molly herself. “It is the most satisfying thing,” she says. “You have a really great idea that you can just translate into a new product—and it works.” jackie varriano

thestowe.com

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Wonderland Honolulu

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Talk about a happy accident: Jess Shedlock didn’t set out to create a line of island-influenced apparel, but when her denim experimentation started getting the attention of friends and complete strangers, she knew she stumbled onto something good. “I was reworking old jeans, and friends started asking me to make something for them,” she says. “I’d post pictures on Instagram, and people were really responding to them. It all took off from there.”

In 2012, while she was working as a bartender, her social-media-fueled extracurricular became Wonderland Honolulu. “At first, I was using repurposed and vintage fabrics out of necessity. My orders were too small for most factories,” explains Jess, who studied fashion merchandising at the University of Hawaii and learned apparel-construction skills along the way. But she soon discovered that working on small scale was not a limitation but a selling point: “I realized that I like having limited-run designs. It creates a buzz when you only have 50 pairs of shorts in a certain fabric.”

This doesn’t mean business isn’t booming, though. Her label has grown so much—and so quickly—that in 2013 Jess moved to Los Angeles to be closer to manufacturers. The change of scenery has also brought some West Coast cool to her bold shorts and flowy maxis. “I’ve always liked California boho style—and mixing it with Hawaiian influenced bright florals and prints,” she adds. The result: the wardrobe equivalent of an umbrella cocktail. —jane gauger

wonderlandhonolulu.com

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AANDD

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“Early on, I would make bags and clothing out of upholstery and wallpaper samples from the office,” says Adam Davidson, who got into the world of accessories—just for fun!—while he was working as an architect. That was, until shop-owner pals of his encouraged him to turn his extracurricular into a full-fledged business.

So, in 2010, Adam created a capsule collection of three pieces, including the core style—the overnight Sea Bag—that he originally designed as a gift for his boyfriend. The trio was a hit among men and women straightaway. “At first I was trying to make everything unisex, but it ended up being too constraining,” he says. “Now I just let unisex happen when it wants to. My aesthetic is always unadorned and minimalist, so silhouettes are left open to interpretation.”

Over the course of the past few years, Adam has drawn on his Seattle upbringing and current NYC locale to grow his made-in-the-U.S.A. line AANDD in a big way—we’re talking backpacks, cross-body satchels, and totes made with materials like Argentine leathers and custom hardware cast in Rhode Island. “Of course, I’m glossing over all of the sleepless nights that the early days entailed,” Adam says. “I would run down to the Garment District on my lunch break. At the time, one of my close friends diagnosed me with ‘bagxiety.’” —alisha prakash

adamanddavidson.com

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Melanie Abrantes

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Melanie Abrantes is, in her words, “a girly chick who likes woodwork.” But it took her some time to embrace that—starting in Texas, where she grew up feeling “like a weirdo,” and then at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, where she fell in love with building things and ended up majoring in product design.

Post-graduation, while working as a graphic designer in L.A., she convinced her then-boss to let her attend the 2012 summer workshop at Domaine du Boisbuchet in France, where she initially registered for a cork product-design class—later cancelled because of poor sign-ups. But she was there! And there was cork in abundance! Her experimentation convinced her to get serious about her craft—and to participate in the design show West Coast Craft. Motivated by the $300 she’d dropped to rent a booth, she dove into making all sorts of amazingness to fill her table, from buttery wood bowls and cake stands to minimalist containers in her new fave material that sold out in a snap.

Now, she’s working on her namesake line full-time, and she recently moved up the coast to Oakland, California. There, she’s building her studio from-scratch—constructing a wall was one recent weekend activity. What’s next? “Furniture, I hope! And maybe lighting,” Melanie says. “I would love to do a whole room collection!” Yah, we’d love that, too. —genevieve ang

melanieabrantes.com

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Katie Diamond Jewelry

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Growing up—long before she married into a family of jewelers with the last name Diamond (yes, for real!)—Katie knew she had a knack for design. “When I was little, my favorite thing to do was make clothes for my sister,” she says. “Even before I knew how to sew, I would make things out of paper and tape them onto her.”

After graduating from FIT with a degree in fashion merchandising management, Katie decided to try her hand at the jewelry industry, studying under goldsmith Cecilia Bauer in 2001. A year later, with the basics under her belt and a ring on her finger, Katie, officially a Diamond, took the opportunity to learn the family biz from the inside. “I had access to these people who’ve been working in the business for years and years and were willing to help me learn,” she says.

Her husband sold his family’s nearly 40-year-old company a few years later, and, hard as it was, the timing was kind of perfect: Katie was now poised to carry on the tradition. She took her experience, built out her collection of dainty-yet-edgy pieces (a vibe she likes to call “wearable punk”), and launched Katie Diamond Jewelry in 2008. And she hasn’t looked back. –olivia seely

katiediamondjewelry.com

 

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