Story and Interview by Miwa Sakamoto
I grew up in LA. My mom is Lebanese, raised in LA and was in fashion most of her life. My dad is a German businessman.
Since I can remember, my mom and I have been playing dress up and shopping for fabrics. Through her, I see how important it is to be creative in the way we present ourselves, and how finding personal style can affect sense of self and how we relate to other people. She’s a beautiful and inspiring person inside and out and has really guided me in my own style, and also been someone I can take design cues from. She’s the best.
I actually came up with a concept for a customizable clothing collection when I was in College at the New School. I was really frustrated with online shopping and the whole fast-fashion industry in general. I got tired of seeing product that was trend-driven but paid no attention to fit and material integrity. I made it my senior project so I could dedicate most of my time to research and creating a business plan. People thought I was nuts. So I ended up putting the project on hold and took a position at Reformation in NYC. Over the past few years the entire direct-to-consumer market coupled with social media technology has just exploded, and it seemed like it was time to pick this back up again.
I’m calling it Brut. And the first collection will launch late spring. Like traditional ecomm you browse the designs and you can either buy a piece as it or choose to customize your garment. So it’s a fashion company with pretty unique technology allowing women to adjust things like the sleeve and hem length of a garment. Our core belief is that we, as women, know what works best for our body type. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice a good design to find something flattering. [We design, you customize.]
Even though we all love it, fashion is an incredibly wasteful market because it’s based off the idea that you wear a garment once or twice cause its on trend and then toss it once that trend has passed. At a closer look it becomes really discouraging to see that garments are designed to become obsolete. The byproduct of which is an enormous amount of waste. This is how I began working on my custom clothing platform. Shopping and customizing a garment for your body type is soft-spoken sustainability. Purchasing a garment that you want to hold onto, something that fits and flatters your form, and that you have had a part in choosing and creating is the best type of "green" - especially in an industry where everything is so expendable. We have the chance to create garments that our customers have an emotional connection to, and with that, a longer shelf life than other brands in this space.
You’ll see a lot of late 50’s surfer girl prints by way of 90’s silhouettes. The current collection we are working on is very inspired by primary colors and basic shapes. We have taken a lot of inspiration from Calder mobiles and our upcoming photoshoot is inspired by the game Twister. Within each collection, the garments are named after sculptors and architects.
I have been so lucky to have found a great team of people, from an amazing accessories designer to a strong COO. Also, my boyfriend George Augusto, better known as Goose, is my co-founder.
It’s amazing! We know each others weaknesses and strengths when it comes to business, and I think a lot of those differences are made clearer through our personal relationship. He is an amazing partner to have and bounce ideas off of, and he challenges me all the time.
Exactly that! When you have so much freedom at this stage its hard to not do everything! It’s hard to limit yourself. I want to launch with 1000 styles and do 3 artist collaborations and open up our retail simultaneously. If you do everything at once, nothing will be good. So it’s a balancing act. It’s also knowing your strengths and focusing on them so that they can flourish.
I live in Venice, CA with Goose. I have a Yorkie named Flea who’s Instagram account I have been neglecting (@fleayonce). I paint, not well, and have recently gotten very into ceramics and the potters wheel, thanks to an amazing studio in Venice I was lucky enough to come across. My moods are either like a 90 year old woman trapped in a 20 something girls body or I feel like I’m still at prom. I recently discovered the croc pot and the show Parenthood so lately most definitely channeling my inner 90 year old. Sorry, Goose.
I think its great! I think it’s amazing that everyone knows, helps and supports each other creatively. I think generally, where there is support in creative communities, they will thrive, attract attention and grow. I feel like this is happening in Venice for sure, and am also seeing the shift in downtown Los Angeles, where we are based, as one that stands out. When I first moved back to LA I moved to Beachwood Canyon. What I missed most about New York was being able to walk and grab a coffee or hop on a bike. What’s the point of living in this insane weather if you can't be outside and enjoy it? So, I love the sense of community. I also love the juxtaposition of working downtown and living in Venice. It really feels like when I get home I’m in another world.
There was a time when I refused to even come back to LA to visit. I would hate on it and tell everyone it was so lame there, there was nothing to do, places close at 2 etc... Oh man. That has that completely 180ed. You can't get me to go back to NY now. I am without a doubt the LA kid cliché. Go to New York for college, run around for a few years and talk about how you’re a New Yorker now, you’ll never move back, and eventually we all come back home. Cause there’s no better place to live. Especially now. I really feel like there’s this shift happening here right now. More and more artists and Designers are moving out west and there’s really this sense of growth, and its great to be a part of that.
We try to travel as much as possible, although at this stage in a start-up it proves more difficult than usual. We just got back from a 10 day boat trip through the Caribbean on this boat called the Talitha. It was unlike any trip I have ever been...
I am going to Sayulita, Mexico for a wedding and to visit my dad, little brother and stepmom. When I get back we’re moving to a new house in Venice. And then after that there is talk of a Marfa, Texas trip with my friend Cassie Coane. I have always wanted to go and she’s the perfect Texas tour guide. Traveling and change is a big part of Brut as well. Our team is pretty international but being based in LA it can be difficult to step outside of our world and draw inspiration on a more global level to relate to all different types of women.
Again, Highs and lows.I usually mix vintage with designer. Lately I’ve been into minimal clean lines with one or two more playful accessories. This time of year makes me want to look like a laaaady. Never the less It would be shocking if I didn't have at least one small hole or stain on me somewhere at all times.
That’s a tough one. Right now, I love the textures and palettes used by ceramic artists and sculptors like Kazunori Hamana and Giacometti, too. I’m also into Italian modernists like Bruno Munari for shape and use of color, and Gio Ponti for interiors stuff. Then there’s always something about the old favorites- looking to Henri Rousseau and even Deigo Rivera lately- paintings of big lush environments, whether they’re exotic plants, or people with solid primary color accents is so good.
Man who live in glass house get dressed in basement.