Mum & Co.

I first discovered Mum & Co. through very lovely Two Son – the Nashville boutique partially owned by James of Bleubird, which is a delight in itself.

Mum & Co.'s bags are mostly nubuck, suede, and velvet – simple, with oversized shapes. I fell hard and fast for them, and am seriously considering grabbing a Shoulder Bag. It's kind of like an elegant, thoughtful take on an everyday tote bag. And I'm obsessed.

Here's a glimpse of a few of Mum & Co.'s styles, to give you an idea of their greatness: 


Cienne NY Fall 2015

We all love stripes. That's pretty much the end of the story, and it will be that way always and forever, amen. And while we've seen the stripe done so many times, in so many ways, I find it amazing that some designers still find a way to make it feel fresh. (How do they do it?)

KULE is one of those designers, thanks to a recently released collection that's dedicated to variations of the stripe.

Cienne NY is another. They did some pretty magic things with their Summer collection (hello, Ryan Dress) and with today's release of the Fall collection, they've done it again thanks to a few key stripe placements and some killer lengths and cuts:

There's something fresh about Cienne's approach to design, too. Nicole of Cienne NY tells me that she wanted to create pieces that were "unique yet approachable, with a focus on quality and meaning."

All Cienne NY fabrics are sourced globally, produced in New York, and shown in small batch collections. The whole brand concept is using "minimal design to showcase unique textiles from around the world".

I just love that.

Shop the full Cienne NY Fall 2015 collection here, and follow them here, here, here, and here


Behind The Scenes With Dear Kate

Y'all know how I feel about Dear Kate – the badass, pro-girl, pro-transparency, pro-realness, pro-let's talk about subjects-that-are-taboo-and-shouldn't-be – line of undies and performance wear.

Since I was luckily enough to partner with Dear Kate earlier this year, I've quite literally lived in their yoga pants and undies. No joke. I wear these pants every single day, wear their underwear as often as it's clean, and at some point plan to revamp my entire undie drawer so that it's filled with Dear Kate – preferably with pieces from their new Jackie collection

I was super pumped to have the opportunity to ask Dear Kate's founder, Julie Sygiel, a few questions about her life as a business owner, badass person, feminist, fellow-Southern gal, and straight-up chemical engineer. 

Without further ado, let's go Behind The Scenes with Julie of Dear Kate: 

Hi Julie! Tell me a little about your background. What inspired you to start Dear Kate?

JULIE SYGIEL: I grew up in a small town in Kentucky and would say that I’ve always had an interest in fashion and feminism. I read every page of my Teen Vogue subscription and in high school I designed/sewed my prom dress (it involved 17 yards of lavender tulle). I was also a Girl Scout for 12 years and sold over 10,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies. I wasn’t sure how to translate my interests to a job so when I started working on Dear Kate, the notion that I could create and then market a product that is fashionable, plus makes women's lives easier, was a dream come true. It checked all of my boxes in a way that I didn't know was possible and just felt "right." Once I started working on the business idea, it was addictive and became all I thought about. 

The business plan for Dear Kate was hatched in my college entrepreneurship class. At first it was a fun, unique idea (especially given that our class was 80% male), and then the longer we worked on it, the more committed I became to actually creating the underwear. Once I got started, it snowballed into collaborating with textile development teams at fabric manufacturers to create our patent-pending fabric, Underlux. Instead of having to totally outsource product development, my science background allowed me to be the one guiding everything from the fabric to the designs to the construction and fit of the product, which is something that I continue to be very involved in today as we develop new products. 

 

What’s your favorite thing about being a designer and a small business owner? Least favorite thing?

JS: Favorite thing: The freedom and street cred that you get for diving in and going out on your own.

Least Favorite thing: The addiction to work. Sometimes I’m on a date and I’m thinking to myself, “I’d rather be working right now.” Obvs work ethic is super important when you have a business, however, along the lines of “work hard, play hard,” I often wish I were better at playing hard.

What’s something about your job that people would be surprised to hear?

JS: I try on all of our new designs personally in the office bathroom and since we work in a co-working space, almost every woman here has seen me in my underwear.

 

Dear Kate is much more than a line of performance wear. It’s more like a movement, thanks to your implied messaging about body acceptance and female empowerment. (Side note – I love that you’re not preachy about it, and more just DO it rather than talk about doing it.) Why was that important to you, and what have you found the response to be?

JS: It’s not something we always did because so many people told me to pick my battles. They said that we were already pushing back on the conventional function of underwear, so we should be as vanilla as possible with our models and photos. At one point we had a conversation in the office about how cool it would be to do a photoshoot depicting women in action, doing things rather than simply looking hot for the camera, and it stuck. We asked one of our friends to model in a limited edition sport set and then asked a trapeze artist to model while flying through the air. The rest was history as we found these lookbooks to be more personally aspirational and kept doing it. Soon after that we added plus sizes (which we call queen sizes because that’s the language used in garment patterns—kind of cool right?). When we were looking for our queen models, many of my larger friends told me that they were tired of seeing size 10 models trying to represent 1X and above. A couple models came in for a casting and I was amazed at how comfortable they were posing for test shots in underwear. That night I remember going home and thinking to myself when I looked in the mirror, “Wait, would I look better if I had more curves?” That was the first time that I acknowledged that the media does have an effect on my self-image perception. It’s not that curves aren’t beautiful — it’s that I hadn’t seen them exposed, ever, and after that, I felt a responsibility to be a company that showcases all different body shapes.

You mostly avoid using professional models in your product and lookbook shots. Can you talk a little about that decision?

JS: We strive to create aspirational and inspirational content at Dear Kate. As soon as we started showing women doing things in photos, it became crystal clear to me that those images were more aspirational than regular lingerie ads. I’d personally rather be known for what I do than for how I look, and I think while that doesn’t resonate with all women, it’s a perspective that is shared among many ambitious movers and shakers who we consider our potential customers. Rather than asking models to pretend to do things in shoots, we realized it made more sense to invite women with expertise to model for us. Featuring someone who is known for something other than modeling changed the role of the woman in the shoot—rather than being in the lookbook simply to make our products look good, she was part of the story.

 

Walk us through the process of a Dear Kate piece – from idea to finished piece.

JS: I usually keep an eye out for designs that catch my eye — everything from lingerie to art prints that have good color pairing. I’ll sketch a few different design ideas and share them with Heidi, our Operations Director. She then gives me feedback on what’s feasible to produce and sometimes if there are a few options, we’ll do a poll on Instagram to get feedback on styles or colors. Then Heidi makes the pattern, the factory we work with in NYC makes a sample, and Isabella, our Marketing and Creative Coordinator, and I try it on.  We then give fit feedback, Heidi revises the pattern, the factory makes another sample, and we try on. Hopefully there are only two fittings, however, we have done more than seven cycles in some cases to make sure it’s right. The pattern then goes to the graders who make it for every size in the collection, and then the patterns all go back to the factory where they can be used for production on the final pieces.

You’re originally from Kentucky! Is there anything you miss about the South?

JS: I love the South and was actually just in Savannah, Georgia this weekend! In addition to the obvious friends and family that are in Kentucky, I miss the food. There are a few places here where I can get biscuits and gravy, but they just aren’t the same as the ones at home.

 

What’s the one thing you want people to walk away knowing about Dear Kate?

JS: That we’re pushing the boundaries of society’s view on women.

And just for fun:

What’s one book everyone should read? One movie?

JS: "The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P." by Adelle Waldman. It’s a brilliant piece of fiction that depicts a relationship from the male point of view.

"An Education". I love the take away from this movie — that things can get really messy and still turn out ok.

 

If you weren’t living in New York, where would you live?

JS: I’m not sure, probably another large city like LA, San Fran, or London (I’d get to hang out with you!). (Editor's Note: Yes please!)

 

What woman or brand/line do you think is killing it right now?

JS: Erin Bagwell is the Director of the documentary, Dream, Girl. I love how she has moved forward incredibly fast from the idea to fundraising to filming. She’s telling stories of female entrepreneurs that need to be heard on a large scale so young women and girls have public role models and see women succeeding in the business world. Disclaimer: I’m interviewed in the film :)

 

Isn't she amazing? Thank you, Julie!

Shop Dear Kate here, and follow the brand here, here, here, and here

 


Megan Huntz FW 2015

As previously mentioned in this post on the lovely Very Fine South, I am oozing with love for my home city of Atlanta right now. Mainly because it's oozing with incredible, quality, creative talent.

Aside from Very Fine South, there's of course The Bitter Southerner – which my, you better subscribe to right now if you haven't already – as well as shops like Henry & June, and people like Stephanie Duncan and Muriel Vega. And then there's Megan Huntz.

Megan Huntz who spent a decade living and working in Italy and Spain. Megan Huntz who approaches fashion design with the eye of an industrial designer, which makes for beautiful, interesting pieces. Megan Huntz who, along with the others, has convinced me that Atlanta is fashionable, and legitimately so. Something I swore years ago wasn't true.

For naysayers in the audience (if there are any), I suggest you take a peek at Megan's Fall/Winter 2015 collection. I plan on picking up, like, all of it as soon as I'm back and settled in the South land. 

If you're in New York this week and are lucky enough to be going to WOMAN, be sure to stop by and see homegirl (aka Megan). She'll be there through close on Tuesday.


Brook There's Organic Undies

I've been feeling feelings for Brook There's silk and organic underwear (not in a weird way) since I first came across the line last fall.

Not to overstate things, but Brook There is basically my dream undie line. Aside from their focus on quality and dedication to ethical principles – all pieces are made in America using organic and sustainable fabrics – Brook There's designs are simple but interesting and include a focus on neutral colors and tones with a few fun patterns and cut outs thrown in for good measure.

This is the underwear line for the othergirl, the rest of us. Those of us who are so far from buying frilly pink anything it's not even close to funny, but who still like a bit of interest in the color, pattern, and texture of our underthings.

My hat is off to Brook DeLorme, the founder of Brook There who's based in Portland, Maine, has been making clothes since her childhood, is currently on a road trip across the country (awesome), and writes interesting things on her blog

Rest assure that Brook There has been in my Indie Designer Directory since day one.

Here are a few Brook There favorites: 


Shopping List: 16 Indie Gift Ideas

Hope you guys had a great weekend!

After a quick trip to Liberty, I spent yesterday afternoon having high tea with this gal at sketch – a crazy, theatrical space in central London that houses multiple restaurants of all kinds under one roof. We had tea in the David Shrigley-designed Gallery, and it was insane. And pink! Mostly pink. 

But moving on to more important things, like gift ideas. After all, it's already mid-ish December. 

I'm a firm believer in thoughtful, individual gifts. If you're in a family or friend group that gifts, give some real thought to the person you're purchasing a gift for – what's going on with them? Have they gone through a big change lately? Where are they in their lives, right now?

Maybe you want to treat them to a day out or plan a weekend away together. Or maybe it's something small and fun, like a pair of snuggly, handmade socks for a loved one who's always cold, or a really great mug from a ceramicist for a friend who's recently discovered a tea obsession. Or maybe it's something practical – like an eye cream your sister has wanted all year but hasn't treated herself to. Get it?

Regardless of what the gift actually is, choosing something that speaks to the gift receiver's wants, needs, tastes, and current place in their life can trump cost and size in an instant. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find someone who would rather receive a slew of expensive items vs. one well-thought out gift.

To help you on your merry way, I've chosen 16 gift ideas, all from independent makers. Some of the makers are featured in my independent designer directory, some are other favorites and new finds. 

Need help choosing something for someone on your list? I kind of love doing this, so let me know if you'd like some help shopping. I'm totes here for you.

micaela greg accordion knit hat ($95) at beklina

porcelain tray ($55) by the pursuits of happiness

pas chasse thick stripe socks ($28) at spartan

square collar ($235) by moulton

chelsey dyer 2015 astrology wall calendar ($22) at straw & gold

tan pouch ($252) by rennes

sweatshirt scarf ($48) by gift shop brooklyn

the sweater ($160) by zady

worn stories ($17.50 at powell's) by emily spivack

cowboy mule ($198) by marais usa

california olive oil handmade soap ($14) by napa organics

cheers holiday card ($4.50) by little arrow studio

playing cards ($12) at amelia

mini stripe boyshorts ($38) by brook there

white zig mug ($34) by tactile matter

south t-shirt ($25) by the bitter southerner

 

Want more shopping ideas? Check out my Great.ly boutique which stocks indie designers and makers from all over the globe. (Love this, this, and [obvs] this.)


Behind The Scenes With TANTUVI SS15

Look – not to toot my own horn or anything, but I have really talented friends.

Yes, I know everyone says that. And yes, mine really are.

Case in point: Arati Rao of TANTUVI, who I was introduced to by my pattern designer and eco-beauty-line owner friends last year. (See? Cool.)

After the introduction, I interviewed Arati for a freelance piece and then found myself returning again and again to her work. There's something about her patterns, color choices, and simple styling that I just love.

Because there are so many incredibly inspiring emerging designers and collections out there, I'm going to start posting more in-depth pieces on some of my favorite lines in a new column called Behind The Scenes. These posts will look at the inspirations and processes behind the work and businesses of some of the best top notch, cool-kid creatives. I'll be sharing along on Instagram, using the ever-important hashtag (have to have a hashtag, right?) of #sffscenes

Let's start with TANTUVI:

TANTUVI began in 2010 after founder and designer Arati Rao had spent much of the year traveling. On her travels, Arati discovered and formed an attachment to the hand-loom textile traditions she found in South India.

From there, TANTUVI – which means 'weaver' in Sanskrit – was formed. 

For the Spring/Summer 2015 collection, Arati was inspired by travel yet again – but this time, her inspiration came from a trip to Turkey.

She shares the role Turkey played in designing her SS15 collection: 

"There was something about Turkey that really spoke to me. The palette I was originally thinking of didn't seem right, so I created a whole new color scheme, which was heavily influenced by my visits to Pamukkale and Cappadocia."

"Pamukkale has these amazing natural formations of sulphur water, and a pool known for its healing properties that was once visited by Cleopatra."

Editor's Note: Woah

"Cappadocia was incredible. Twice, we were up before sunrise and the sky was unreal. We also went on a hot air balloon – that was unbelievable."

I love how clearly you can connect the color choices and inspirations in the SS15 collection to Arati's time in Turkey. From the colors to the patterns, and maybe even the shapes, you can see exactly where she was inspired.

All TANTUVI pieces are hand-dyed and hand-woven in South India before being assembled in Brooklyn, and Arati aims to provide income and a stable livelihood to both the women presently involved in the TANTUVI production process as well as the future generations behind them.

See? Told you my friends were cool.

Shop TANTUVI here

Learn more about TANTUVI's process here

Follow TANTUVI here