Made with love in Los Angeles, ARE STUDIO's leather work stunned me ever since I laid my eyes on it one morning last summer. Her impeccable taste shows in her made-in-USA pieces, and now I am so honored to have her SS16 collection at the shops, including the most beautiful romper that I will be wearing all day every day this summer.
Behind the brand is Cecilia, maker and mastermind of this beautiful brand. We sat down and chatted with her at her studio in Los Angeles
Marta: Hi Cecilia! So happy to chat with you and to be able to get our customers to know you a little bit more! I guess first things first, how did it all start? How did ARE STUDIO become alive?
Cecilia: I started out with a simple square bag design out of personal necessity, really. I wanted a bag that was void of flashy hardware and that emphasized a minimal aesthetic, which I couldn’t find anywhere at the time, so I decided to make my own. The bag caught on with friends and I realized that maybe I could give it a go at making them on a larger scale. From there, the company has grown quite a bit, always keeping the concept of simplicity at the core of everything.
M: That makes so much sense! To me, the best things in life come out of the need for something that you can't find anywhere but you really wish existed! I feel like you were the answer to those prayers for me, too! Did you always know that this was what you wanted to do?
C: Yes and no. I’ve always had the natural need for a creative outlet of some kind, ever since I was a little one. So inherently, I knew that I would continue to make things because it made me happy, to put it simply. I studied music in high school and attended a fine arts college, but never knew what I really wanted to do with any of it. Once I started designing for myself more intently, it all fell into place and felt right. Starting my own business seemed out of reach until I realized that you just have to jump in and commit to doing it. It felt risky and totally scary, but I reached a point when I knew that I needed to do it.
M: Absolutely, I feel with any artistic or creative project you have to know where you are going to start, but always be very open to where you are going to end! I think it's a constant process that is always evolving and moving, it even seems to have its own life sometimes! But isn't that the beauty of it? For you what are the first steps when designing a new collection? Do you start by a color palette, or a textile, or a pattern? What is the first inspiration that sets all in motion?
C: Sources of inspiration are so fascinating to me. In my case, it comes from a lot of different places: color combinations that I see out in the world, an image, a texture, a feeling. With the SS16 bag collection, the inspiration was a shape, starting with the circle. I wanted all the bags to have a circular base from which the body would grow into a number of different forms. I sketch to work through the idea, make a canvas or paper mock-up to see what the proportions look like and work through any edits that feel necessary. In terms of the clothing collection for this season, my inspiration was a memory of my mother in her linen. This blossomed into these loose fitting pieces that anyone could make their own – basics that could be easily integrated into any wardrobe. Whether its clothing or bags, I always have an eye toward something minimal, pairing down the design to essential parts, leaving out extraneous details to a point where I can say to myself, “everything that needs to be here is here.”
M: I love that, and I am not surprised to hear that from you, as I think that was one of the things that first made me so attracted to your line and your pieces. Here at Voyager we are all about the “nothing extra” simplicity with a distinctive style. Functionality to its highest potential from an artistic point of view. Have you ever been asked how would you describe ARE STUDIO, I know it must be almost an impossible question to answer, but could you describe it in a few words? What are the fundaments of it? And what keeps you motivated to continue doing what you do?
C: I think bold simplicity is really attractive and it lies at the root of everything I do. With ARE, I want to bring subtlety and consideration to every piece. A sense of timelessness runs through the collections. All of these things converge to form these simple, but charged moments that you can find in every item. For example, the beauty of two planes of material converging to make a seam is decorative in my eye. The endless possibilities motivate me to keep creating. I’m inspired every day. Sometimes, the hard part is to pinpoint the ideas I want to investigate more, since I want to try all of it!
M: I am so happy to hear that! And seeing what you have done in just two seasons... I just can’t wait to see what you have in storage for the next years! I’ve mentioned a couple times already what it was that made me so attracted to you line and your work, but I am always curious about why you chose Voyager/Revolver as a retailer? What excited you about us and made you decide to let us carry the brand?
C: I love that Voyager/Revolver bring together art and design under one roof. Both the shop and ARE have aesthetics in common and a passion for beautiful things. Being part of your community of designers and artists is such an honor!
M: Aw that is so sweet of you to say! We are the ones honored, we truly are so fortunate and lucky to be able to work with so many amazing artists, but also amazing humans! To finish, I always like to ask the kind of cheesy but classic question of how do you see the line in 10 years, but more than that I would like to know where would you like to see it?
C: It’s so hard to think about 10 years from now, but I think I’d like ARE to remain small on one level, but be well respected in the community. I like how focused my capsule collections are right now and wouldn’t want things to get watered down in an effort to produce more. Right now, it’s a one woman show with a bit of help running errands and I like having a hand in all aspects of the business. It feels more intimate that way and I like knowing that every piece has passed through my hands before it goes out in the world.
Shop ARE STUDIO here
All pictures by Dustin Shade