What were some of the early obstacles?
After China, I decided I wanted to dedicate 100% of my time to the label. It was really hard at first. I think there are a lot of companies that try to do sustainable fashion out of vintage, but it is very difficult to create quality and consistency. Plus there is the issue of displaying it in a store in a way that is attractive to the consumer. So we really spent the last two years really working out those kinks.
So when did you open your LA and New York locations?
I had already opened them before that trip to China, but they were just for fun at that point. It was like a lab for me to make whatever I felt like. I could literally go in the back and make things myself, which was fun because I had gotten away from making clothes myself.
Was there a moment when you felt the label had become something big?
The second I opened the store in LA I was like, “holy shit, this is awesome.” I knew I had to open one in New York, since I was living there. I knew I needed that energy around me. It felt amazing. So then I opened the New York location and people bought everything the first day it was open.
How do you keep up with the demand for clothes?
That was one of the hard things to figure out. It wouldn’t work to have me and a few girls making the pieces one at a time. So now we have our own factory in LA, and we have a total of fifty people working for the company.
How do you source the vintage pieces and materials?
Our number one material is vintage garments, where we take vintage pieces and take them apart and use the materials. Our second is surplus materials and our third is developing sustainable fabrics, which we are trying to do now. So they will be virgin materials, but made by environmentally sustainable factories out of closed loop yarns. Closed loop means they don’t use any extra water, but reuse it instead.
Are you influenced by being bi-coastal?
I find that LA and New York are becoming so similar in terms of what people wear. I feel like the label really has both identities. Back when we started, LA wanted brighter things and New York wanted black, but now there isn’t really a differentiation.
Do you have any specific muses or girls that inspire you?
We actually are inspired by ourselves. All the girls that work here are friends. It’s always like, “That top is so Brianna, or that’s so Alana.” For me, the most important thing is the value for the clothes. I want my clothes to reach a broad spectrum of people, not just one specific person. When I’m designing something, if I can’t picture three of the girls that work here wearing it then I won’t make it.
You don’t create collections, but you must have mood boards at different times. What’s on yours now?
Right now we are doing fall. So we always make clothes for the next month. We are obsessed with ‘90s Alaia at the moment– lots of off the shoulder and square necks.
I’m actually really nerdy. I structure my time. I don’t want to waste time on projects that aren’t worth it. My days and weeks are very regimented. I always have design meetings at certain times, fittings at certain times. Very regimented! I never need to worry about what to do next, I just do it.
The new Soho flagship opens in two weeks, which is exciting. We are always planning new things, like relaunching our website and blog. We have a lot of energy and forward momentum. We want to keep pushing design and sustainability. We are also working on an environmental impact report to quantify what our environmental impact is. So when you buy a dress from us you saved the equivalent of a thousand showers. Apparently the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world after oil.