i recently got the loveliest email from doie designs, asking me to take a look at their line of casual and loungewear. the line, made primarily from eco-friendly bamboo jersey, features loads of great basic pieces mixed with gorgeous little dresses in fabulous patterns.
doie’s fall collection is all marked down now on her site, as well as on tobi.com, so it’s well worth checking out. my picks are the manzanita dress and her super-cute striped hoodie & pants, which i love so much more than most matchy-matchy loungwear.
i have to admit, though, that most of my favorite pieces are from her upcoming spring ’08 line, which should be available in april. she does have a sneak peek on her site, and it’s well worth checking out. i’m absolutely in love with the bamboo print silk top above – it’s by far my favorite piece from the line, and i’m doing some serious coveting.
anyway, i liked what i saw so well that i asked the designer, sara kirsner, to do a little Q&A with us.
shoppingsmycardio: from looking at your bio, you’ve had some pretty fabulous experiences – interning for DKNY and Marc Jacobs just have been amazing! did you always have the goal of starting your own line, or did you decide to start your line after seeing a gap in the market? i’d love to hear how you got started.
sara kirsner: For as long as I can remember I have been interested in fashion. I used to draw mini “collections” when I was in grade school and I tried to give my friends makeovers in the fourth grade. When I decided to leave advertising and apply to Parsons School of Design, I knew that I wanted to work in fashion, but I thought that having my own line would be something that would possibly happen way down the road.
When I was working as a freelancer in the design department, at Ann Taylor, I took a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia with some friends. A friend and I had talked about starting up a loungewear line, so when I was on the trip I had a few prototypes made up in a small town full of tailors, call Hoi An. When I returned, my contract with Ann Taylor was up and I was so inspired by my trip and had so many ideas for the line, that instead of looking for a new job I threw myself head first into creating Doie. The friend that I was supposed to start the line with ended up deciding to work full time at Polo Ralph Lauren. I was petrified at first, to do it alone. I knew nothing about starting a line but I was so excited and invested, that I just kept going.
SMC: you must have had some amazing learning experiences working with all of those other designers. what did you learn from those jobs that was most valuable to you in starting your line?
SK: The internship experiences at DKNY and Marc Jacobs were very different from each other. I learned a lot from both of them, but I realized that neither environment felt like the kind of fashion that I wanted to do. Working for a huge corporation felt too impersonal and working in the high fashion runway world was also something that I didn’t feel was a good fit for me. However, Marc Jacobs and Donna Karen are my two favorite designers and no matter how hard the internships got, I was constantly in disbelief that I was actually “working” for those companies. I was able to meet both designers during my time there.
SMC: you primarily use fabrics made from bamboo – did you choose to design with bamboo fabrics because you really prefer the fabric or because you’re trying to be eco-friendly? can you tell us a little about that choice?
SK: I started out using regular cotton. After my first collection was produced, I was showing it to my friend’s mom, who also owns Vivaterra, a great website/catalogue featuring eco-lifestyle products. She loved my collection and asked if I could make a few pieces for her in a sustainable fabric such as bamboo or organic cotton. I really liked bamboo and after learning more about it I decided to continue using it for all of my future collections. My family is very environmentally conscious. It just seemed natural. After learning how environmentally disastrous cotton is, I will never go back.
Bamboo production is not completely virtuous as there are harmful chemicals used to breakdown the bamboo into fabric, but bamboo growth does not require any pesticides and is 100% sustainable. I am trying to incorporate more organic cotton and organic wool these days.
I do use bamboo because it is environmentally friendly, but I also love the feel of it! It has the softest hand and it drapes so well. Bamboo is also naturally anti-microbial, which means the fabric actually prevents bacteria from growing on it, resulting in clothing that remains odor-free longer than other fabrics.
SMC: I love that you’re not afraid to include classic, staple wardrobe pieces in your line, along with the trendier silhouettes. How do you decide what to include in each season? I’d love to learn a little about your design process.
SK: I love to be fashionable and look put together, but I have never been super trendy. I try to include pieces that will be able to be worn for more than one season. This idea of “disposable fashion” at places like H&M, and Forever 21 is great for the wallet and a fun night out, but not so great for the environment. I obviously want people to want to buy my new collection each season, but I don’t want the pieces that they already own to seem obsolete. I usually do have a few trendier items, but as you mentioned, they are mixed in with staples that can hopefully be worn for years.
SMC: what trends are you most looking forward to for spring 2008?
SK: I am excited that the dress trend is still very strong. I live in dresses!
SMC: if you had to choose one piece from your line that’s your absolute favorite, what would it be, and what do you love about it?
SK: My absolute favorite piece is the Doie signature hoodie. It may change slightly from season to season, but that is the piece that I live in. I can lounge around in it and then still wear it out to meet friends, run errands, or to the gym. The hood is lined with a printed silk, so it is a little nicer than an old sweatshirt, but just as comfortable!
SMC: what’s next for your label? are you planning to stay with your more relaxed vibe, or do you see yourself branching out into more structured pieces? any plans to branch out into bags or accessories?
SK: Doie will always be about blending style, comfort and sustainability, but the collections are starting to include dressier pieces along with the loungewear. I want to have both types of styles, because I have both of those sides to me. I am branching out this Fall and incorporating organic wool into a few pieces. I am doing my first coat and I am very excited about it.
I have thought about doing a maternity line. More and more of my friends are becoming pregnant and I would love to branch out in that direction eventually.
SMC: when you go to sleep at night, what excites you about going to work the next day?
SK: It all depends on what is going on with the line. For example, this week I have been very excited to wake up and go to the factory where my Fall samples are being made. I can walk there from my apartment. I check in every other day or so to see what they have ready. It is really exciting to see my ideas “come to life.” The main thing that I love is not knowing what the next day is going to bring. For example, this interview was a pleasant surprise that I didn’t see coming.
SMC: who would you most like to run into on the street wearing one of your designs?
SK: I would to see someone like Natalie Portman wearing my line. She is not only gorgeous, but also smart and cares about the environment. I would also love to be out to dinner, or walking down the street and see someone wearing something from my line. I have yet to see someone completely random wearing my line. That would be exciting.
SMC: i’d love to know a little more about your personal style – can you tell us about your favorite, no-fail outfit?
SK: My no-fail outfit changes from season to season, but lately it has been the Doie Juniper dress (in black) with tights and a belt, my Charmone (cruelty-free) boots, and these amazing lazer-cut bamboo earrings by Molly M designs. It is such a comfortable outfit, but it still looks so put together.
SMC: what one style secret do you wish you could teach every woman out there?
SK: My #1 style secret would be to make sure that you are comfortable in what you are wearing. When someone feels comfortable, they project a certain confidence and people are drawn to them. If you are constantly fidgeting with your outfit, you will appear insecure and also won’t be able to enjoy yourself as much. And a good bra can make all the difference!
a great big thank you to sara at doie designs for taking the time to chat with us! i’m really looking forward to seeing what this designer has up her sleeve for future seasons.