How I'm Making It: Lauren Moffatt

Lauren Moffatt's eponymous label has become internationally recognized for its quirky-cool girl vibe. She started out as a graphic designer in her hometown of Philly before relocating to New York. It was aboard her 31-foot house boat docked on Hudson River that Moffatt started sewing her first ready-to-wear collection in 2000.
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Lauren Moffatt's eponymous label has become internationally recognized for its quirky-cool girl vibe. She started out as a graphic designer in her hometown of Philly before relocating to New York. It was aboard her 31-foot house boat docked on Hudson River that Moffatt started sewing her first ready-to-wear collection in 2000.
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Lauren Moffatt's eponymous label has become internationally recognized for its quirky-cool girl vibe. Season after season she produces a well-curated collection of wardrobe staples for girly hipsters who dig a vintage look with modern sensibilities.

Moffatt started out as a graphic designer in her hometown of Philly before relocating to New York. It was aboard her 31-foot house boat docked on Hudson River that Moffatt started sewing her first ready-to-wear collection in 2000. It's easy to see her artistic background in the plentiful prints ranging from retro to abstract that appear throughout her ranges. She also plays with color combos, silhouettes and texture offering quietly unexpected elements that never overwhelm.

Though a boat is no longer HQ (a sunny studio in Chelsea is instead), Moffatt maintains a whimsical element of surprise in all that she creates. In between working and hanging with her expanding family (newborn Lucille just became sister to Stella), we chatted to the in-demand designer to learn about her creative process, work/life balance, and living on that house boat. Here's what we learned...

A look from Moffatt's spring 2013 show.

A look from Moffatt's spring 2013 show.

What role did fashion play when you were growing up? There was a camouflage phase in my early teens and a burlap phase in my early 20's. I've always had a point of view when it comes to fashion--whether or not it was a good one or not is the real question!

What brought you to New York after school? My intention was always to start a clothing line. After leaving my job as a graphic designer, I knew it was time to make the move. My friend, Rob Pepin, was already here in NYC doing production for another designer, so we decided to join forces and launch LM.

Tell us about that decision to launch the label. Rob and I were living on a 31-foot sailboat in the Hudson River. The boat served as our home office, so we were able to get around the whole NYC exorbitant rent thing. It also enabled us to invest the little money we had into buying fabric and producing our first collection.

How do you describe the ethos of your brand? There is irony and a sense of humor to the clothes but always in a classic, understated way. The collections are composed of timeless pieces that I like to think our customers hold onto for years.

What were some early challenges you faced as a new designer? As a new designer designing and sewing on a sailboat, my biggest challenge was space! As you can imagine it was quite limited. As we started build a pattern library it became clear we had to move into a proper studio space.

Was there a moment when you felt everything had come together? I don't think you ever feel like you've "made it." The notion of that is so stifling when faced with having to design a new collection season after season. It's more about presenting a new range and hoping that people are drawn to it.

Who are your muses and style icons? My grandmother is my style icon. In her closet you would find clothes that were avant garde, simple, or really classic, but they all looked very much like her. I love the idea of a closet that spans so many different eras and styles but has the common thread of being procured by one person.

Another look from Moffatt's spring 2012 collection.

Another look from Moffatt's spring 2012 collection.

Where do you begin when starting a new collection? I draw inspiration from so many places. It could be a piece of fabric, a painting I see at a museum, a vase, a color. Who knows what may trigger an idea? I've always felt lucky that I don't have a set way of drawing inspiration at the beginning of each season because what would happen if one season it just didn't happen for me? It puts too much pressure on the design process. My process is pretty organic.

How does your fine arts and graphic design background influence your designs? My background is in fine arts and color theory, specifically. Color is a really important part of our collection. 12 years in, I could count on one hand how many black pieces we've made.

Do you follow the fashion world closely? Who inspires you? I stay abreast of fashion “news.” But I don't follow trends or try to predict them--that would be so stressful. I'm inspired by the everyday girl with her own sense of style. But really, I just make what I want to wear.

And lastly, congrats on your new baby! How do you balance your own business with your personal life? The family/work balance is a simple one. I find that if I just think about work at work and home at home, then I’m focused on where I need to be at any given time...