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Voyager Journal
Dialogue Series No.5 / ARE STUDIO

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

 

Dialogue Series No. 4 / KENYONQS

Kenyon QS makes architecturally simple, beautiful and rigorous leather accessories.Deeply personal and extension of his craft we had the chance to sit down with him to discuss rigors of practice, the mod scene, the craft and keeping simple as an ethos on living.

Why did you start making bags and more importantly why?

I started making bags as a way to get into branding, something I was interested as a profession, and I wanted something that would and could represent my individuality. Something I could do out of a studio in Oakland and something that was attainable and still offered something representative of a collective process.

I came out to Oakland to work with another designer who took me under her wing and taught me the basics of construction and production. There I stumbled across making bags, and started making them for myself. I started to make my own brand as way to understand how I could possible help others explore branding too.


What is attractive about branding to you?

I went to SCAAD and from there I was most attracted to “branding” as a concept of individual, and and how individualistic it can be, how specific it can be towards expression. There is something spectacular that allows on be themselves through a brand. You can build a community through branding and I was attracted to it. I have my own ideology and philosophy towards how to live and how to be? The bags and my products

What are some of these philosophies?

I ‘m a little bit of a Mod kid. Clean living under difficult situations. Trying to be clean, simple, focused to get by the daily. 

You mean the Mod Music Scene?

Yeah, but something bigger more as representation of modernity. As a way to remove frills and excess. To simplify. I’m not interested into decorated life, I want a super clean artistic movement and zen approach. I’m totally into Zen,

So you the bags? How did you approach the design?

The idea is based on the standard 11” by 17” inch of paper. The bag is a composition of using a 11” by 17” piece of paper and keeping it scaled to ratio to the standard. I’m interested in using this standard simple standard and contracting and exploring through this scale.

I’m really interested in exploring and using this ratio as a super simple, and

Keeping things simple as a way to survive.



So something like the golden ratio?

Yeah just like that, but instead of the golden ratio, I’m using the 11” * 17” sheet as standard to start my composition.

Do you find these ratios, or grids a bit fascist? Constricting?

I’m definitely not a fascist. I do however like instead the rigor of using a standard. You can always step off the grid to be more natural, but its a good starting point, a map to explore. Its a reference point. Obviously with the bags, there is something about form, but there is a basis and explore how things fall. I’m interested in draping, moderns cuts that use that basis.

What else are you working on?

I’m expanding through Kenyon QS. I’m interested in new forms, new cultural references and identities. Exploring maybe my more aggressive parts of my identity. I’m exploring the Yin-yang of my mod interests. I’m doing things using free hand, making hats by hand, drawing and printing shirts with more loose lines. I’m working on some hats with leather caps to explore my brand, its all me and exploring the borders of that concept. Kenyon QS is an extension and exploration of my identity. I like exploring my influences and understanding my place thru this process.

Shop Kenyon QS  

Dialogue Series No.2 / HAI

 

There are certain brands that, either because of the concept, why they started, because of the style or because of the marvelous people behind them, that have really come close to my heart. HAI is definitely one of them. Relatively unknown, this Austin based brand is as pure and raw as the materials they use, but as chic and cosmopolitan as the minds behind it. 


I, Marta, had the pleasure to meet with Karen and Chrissy and hear in their own words how Hai started.


Marta – Hello ladies, we finally meet each other! I can't believe it's been two seasons with the brand at the shop already and it is the first time we meet face to face. As you can see I am wearing the Car Coat and I seriously have not stopped wearing it since I got it at the shops almost a year ago!

Karen – Hii! I know... It feels like we definitely have known each other for so long, it's incredible all of it has been through email and skype! Amazing to see you wearing the coat, I have to say, I noticed as soon as you came in haha, It makes us super happy to know that you not only like the line to have it at the shop but that you also wear it and love as much as we do!

M – I sure do! I feel it defines pretty great what I do, or try to do at the shops, but wait, let's start from the beginning. Did you ladies always knew that this was what you wanted to do?

K - I think I more or less fell into it! Although I did spend almost every week of my younger years awaiting the next issue of The Face!

C - I was always a little obsessed with clothing and the stories you could tell with it. It wasn’t until I took a textiles class in college that I realized it was my passion.

 

 

 

M - It's so funny I feel the exact same way! Like I was always into it, and I always knew in the back of my mind that it was something I wanted to be involved with but it took me a while to realize that this world was the one I belonged to! I think I was also really inspired by textiles to make the big step, like you Chrissy. Are textiles a big part of your inspiration when designing a new collection? What are the first steps? Do you start by a color palette, or a textile, or a pattern? What is the first inspiration that sets all in motion?

K - Over the course of a few months we gather images, fabrics, even tactile objects and bring them to our first production meeting of the season. Then we take it from there. It’s funny but most of the time we end up presenting similar ideas. I guess that’s a way of knowing when you’re meant to work together!

M - Sounds very familiar, all great collaborations I feel are the same way. More than you trying to make it work it is just it working by itself when you get together and share ideas! Was it the same when you started thinking about what the brand would be? How would you describe in a few words what your brand is? What are the fundaments of it? What keeps you motivated to continue doing what you do?

K - Wearable, accessible and simple. We wanted to make clothes that we would want to wear, that jacket or dress that becomes your wearable staple of the season. I think we will continue you to do it for just that very reason! So we can keep making clothes for our friends and ourselves!

C - Definitely. We also have a passion for beautiful fabrics, natural fibers and making things in the US.

 

 

 

M - Hah, I think you described exactly what our motto is here at Revolver and Voyager, I guess that is why it was such love at first sight with me and you ladies! That is how I felt when I first saw the linen collection you made, I was looking for those perfect summer pieces that one could wear all year long, that were comfortable and wearable and definitely amazing quality but that also would make you feel gorgeous when you had them on, and there they were in a perfect tiny box coming all the way from Austin... Was that connection also important for you guys when deciding to approach us to carry the line? What was about Revolver & Voyager that you like?

C - A lot of designers we love are at Revolver. We love the aesthetic of Voyager and Revolver and we love the way it’s curated. We are proud to have our clothes there.

M - And we are so proud to have you guys there! Really, one of my favorite brands and one of the ones I am most proud on carrying! Ok, and to finish the classic question of how do you see the line in 10 years … terrible, I know.. but i want to know more about where would you like to see it? What would you like the future of the brand to be??

K- Having our own flagship store in Austin would be nice, I think we would also like to try to expand into accessories and home-wares, maybe!? Chrissy?!

C - Ha! Yes, accessories and home wares! I think we would like to see the line find its way into stores in all of the major US markets and some over seas. And a flagship here at home would be fantastic!

M - Oh yes! Please do! That sounds amazing! Can not wait for all of it to happen! Thanks so much Karen & Chrissy, it is such a pleasure working with you!

 

 

 Shop HAI here

 

 

Dialogue Series No.1 / About Arianne

If we had to choose what is that we love most about our job and about the stores, one of the very first things would be the opportunity it gives us to meet and become friends with so many talented and creative people. From designers to reps we feel we have become a big family and we wanted to in a way make you all be part of it.

Through a series of lunches, coffees, beers and what not, we started this small section in the blog where our buyers meet with designers and talk about their work, our work and what brought us together.

To start, Marta, our womenswear buyer, met with Ariadna & Ernest, the creative minds behind About Arianne, our new shoe line straight from Barcelona, to share their views, their stories and where they see themselves in the future.

Marta - Hola! Long time no see! It has been less than a year and it feels like forever. How are you? How is everything going?

Ariadna- Hola! I know! We have been super busy! Fortunately the brands has been growing and we haven’t stopped since you last saw us. Collaborations and collections have kept us really busy!

Marta - That is so awesome to hear! I of course have been following all your steps on social media and I can’t tell you how happy I am of all of your success. But let’s start from the beginning, how did you guys meet? How did About Arianne get started?

Ariadna - Well, Ernest and I met like 5 or 6 years ago. I had finished my graduate in Fashion and came back to Barcelona from London during the summer. I started working at a clothing shop to make some money and get my first collection going, It was there where I met Ernest, he was the visual merchandiser at the shop. It took us a little time to finally meet outside the shop but once we did we just couldn’t stop! Haha, it felt like we had known each other all our lives. The truth is we connected immediately!

Ernest - We also met at the perfect time. Both of us where specializing in our careers, Ariadna was doing a Masters Degree in shoe design and I was finishing my Masters Degree in Art Direction. When she jumped into designing shoes and launch the brand I started helping her with the art direction of the brand. We kept collaborating and we kept sharing ideas, so we decided to start our own project. About Arianne was born, and our first collection was launched on FW 2010.

M - I know exactly what you mean, that is exactly how I felt when I met Valerie, my business partner at Equals and my creative soul mate, when you connect so strongly it feels like there is anything else you can do but start working together, like destiny! I know you, Ariadna, have always known you wanted to be a designer, but did you both always knew that you wanted to make shoes?

A - When i started my degree I was more into making clothes and making full collections, but the more I got into it the more I realized that what I really liked was making shoes. I understood that shoes can completely change a look and that I was also unconsciously spending more time on that part of the collection. At the same time I just wasn’t able to find the shoes I wanted at stores and I realized that I was not the only one. I started sketching ideas I had in my mind and started showing it to my friends and people I knew, everybody kept telling me to keep going and start my own label so i guess I just listened to what they were saying. It was thanks to them that I learned that there were more girls like me that couldn’t find what they were looking for and that what I was proposing was exactly what they wanted.

E - Me personally, I never thought I would end up designing shoes. And I am from Elche (where there is a huge shoe making tradition). But since I was little I have always been very attracted to fashion and it was also true that I always had a hard time finding shoes that I really liked (well that hasn’t changed much hah). One little spoiler, if everything goes as we hope we want to launch a men’s line soon. My other passion has always been design, branding, communication.. So I can’t ask for more! I work at my own brand inside the fashion world, and I also get to design all that goes around it.

M - I totally see what you mean Ernest, that is one of the things I love the most about our the industry we work at, you know where and what you were doing when you started but you have no clue where or what you will be doing when you retire. Kind of how designing a collection goes, right? How do you guys do it? What are the first steps? Color palette, material, texture…or more about the overall style of the shoe?

A - It all starts with sketches made with pencil at my studio. Ernest and I talk about things we like about shoes, things we have seen or ideas we got in our minds. Then I sit down and start sketching, when I have a few of them we sit down together and we discuss what we like and what we don’t like as much. We make a final choice and then it’s when we choose types of leather, colors, soles and details. After that is pretty much going to the factory where we get them made, we make patterns and samples of every design not only to give the final details but also to cover the other important aspect, comfortability and functionality.

E - For example, the concept for our last collection AW15 came alive when Ariadna came from the factory with a new color chart of new leather styles, we started to take a look at them and fell in love with one of the styles that looked like granite stone. From that moment we started talking about stones and rocks, from the earth and the moon’s surface… until we came up with the concept. We choose Onyx as our main representative, we were mixing those granite leather styles with shiny leathers, something that we had never done before.

M - It is so interesting to me how we humans are so influenced and attracted to nature and all of its forms, almost everything we do is an inspiration of it in some way or the other. That is one of the biggest inspirations for me when buying for a new season or when coming up with ideas for Equals, what about you guys, how would you describe About Arianne in your own words? What are the fundamentals and principles of you as a brand? What is the foundation?

E - The core of our designs is always the same. We like to design timeless pieces, that don’t fall seasonable trends. Our goal is to make shoes with a different and particular style but that are at the same time comfortable, functional and of the highest quality, therefore that have a very long life!
Maybe one season we are more attracted to a certain style of sole, some details or others, but we really don’t follow any trend, we just follow what we like.

A - About Arianne's shoes are pretty recognizable, we like to respect the label and to be faithful to it. What we want is for anybody that see one of our shoes without seeing the label knows exactly that is ours, and slowly I feel we are getting there. Design in our brand is very important, a style that you can recognize at first sight. That and as Ernest said, a deep respect for quality and comfortability are equally essential.

M - As you know that is also one of the most important things for me when buying, I want timeless pieces with and exquisite quality so they can last a lifetime. I guess that is one of the reasons why I was impressed with you when first met you. Not only you were proposing a different style, but you knew what you were doing and you had a great respect for the craft.
I guess I have never asked you this but why did you also choose us to be one of your retailers? What do Revolver & Voyager have that made you feel like it would be a good home for your line?

A - We knew about the store through a friend of ours that lives in San Francisco, she said that it was one of the shops of reference from the area and she knew we would like you guys for your style and what you were proposing. Then when we were presenting the line at Capsule in NY we met Kathy from Kareem and she also told us about the shop and you! and then we had the opportunity to show you our work!

E - To us, it’s very important that the shop that carries our shoes transmits an aesthetic that we feel identified with. Same as in our studio/store we are transmitting and associating our brand's values we also need that the places where we sell our shoes share the same ideas. That way we also get to our customers as they go to those kind of spaces looking for that specific style. Voyager & Revolver are the perfect example of all of this!

M - Thank you guys! That is awesome to hear. To us sharing the same philosophy with the brands that we carry is essential! One last thing, I just have to ask…. when do you see About Arianne in 10 years? I know it’s a cheesy question, I guess what I mean is, where do you want to take it, where would you like to be?

E - We’ll.. of course we would want About Arianne to be a consolidated brand in the market and of reference in terms of design, quality and social responsibility. Also we would love to open our wings, men’s line for sure (and hopefully in less than ten years) and also a vegan shoe line.

A - 10 years are a lot of years… we would love to keep selling to boutiques and retailers but we would also love to have some of our own stores. In terms of design we would aspire to, as Ernest said, open our wings and design other kinds of things as well.. not big collections but more things that we like and that revolve around our way of living and our style. Furniture, accessories, maybe some housewares…

M - That sounds amazing! I can’t wait for all of it!

All images by: Marta Mullor / http://martamullor.tumblr.com/

Shop About Arianne HERE