Some of you may have noticed that I have been posting a little later in the day than usual. Well, that is because I am taking a little vacation out in Southern California! So that explains why I am three hours behind all of you east coasters—sorry about that!
However, I am not sorry to have this awesome opportunity to be out on the West Coast for a few weeks. Last week I met up with Lizz Wasserman, the crazy-cool designer behind the irresistible, sustainable fashion line, Popomomo.
Lizz and I sat down for a chat and than she took me around her Highland Park studio, which was a completely unforgettable experience. Check out what the Milwaukee native had to say and peep some photos of her work space below!
First off I usually ask if you could tell me a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to start designing?
“Well I had always been interested in design but I didn’t really think it was a valid career decision so I didn’t go to school for that but when I wrote my senior honors thesis I wrote it about alternative cultures after communism and I found myself totally drawn to describing the clothing and the semiotics behind dress more than anything else, so I kind of had to admit to myself that I was interested in fashion. I was going to take some time off and just work until it was time to go to grad school and figure out if I would stick with sociology or change to fashion. I talked myself into a job at Urban Outfitters and I was kind of their design coordinator and then one day their knit designer quit, so I did a little presentation and they moved me over. It was kind of like getting my dream job, getting to learn everything on the job as well. But I still knew that even though that was an amazing creative opportunity and a great company to work for, I knew that if I ever did anything on my own it would have to be sustainable because I do think fashion is kind of a frivolous field and I think that it is made more frivolous by wasteful practices and everybody likes clothes and everybody likes to get dressed, but especially if you can indulge those wishes without hurting other people, that would be the ideal way to do it.”
What does the phrase ‘sustainable fashion’ mean to you?
“Now I think it has two parts. I think it is important to be around as a sustainable designer, like it is important not to go out of business. If I was dying things by hand with vegetables that I had grown organically, I probably could not be in business. I think it is part of in tandem working with the market, so I try to be as sustainable as market-ly possible. So I start with only using sustainable fabrics, which to me means fabrics that are not detrimental and are either organic, non-harmful or made with recycled materials. I would consider doing something like a hand loomed, made in the United States or Mexico, fabric out of perhaps conventional cotton if it was still dyed sustainably, but at this point I try to be more sustainable than that.
The other aspect that I think is extremely important is production. So you are in Highland Park right now and we are at Avenue 40. My main factory is 10 blocks away and my sample house is about a mile away, so I can walk with Booker (Lizz’s super cute dog) and check in on stuff. I know not everybody has that opportunity because not everybody lives in Los Angeles but I think that being able to know that the people who are making your stuff are being paid a fair living wage and that they are being treated nicely and that there is a governmental body in effect making sure that they are okay, that is very important to me. Also, my stuff doesn’t have to be shipped that far, which I think is a part of the sustainability and so in those aspects to me I think it is very important to produce locally.”