Cold has been back for quite a while now. Though I like to complain about it, winter fashion is something very exciting and I love to wear layers to be all wrapped up when the coldness hits Paris. But when choosing my coats and other warm clothes, I always come up with a problem: it never warms me as I would want it to: letting the warm parts of my body breath and warming up the sensitive parts at the same time. But I recently met Lee Anderson from Starkweather, the brand where function meets fashion. Lee says the first priority is to set up options that truly answer to our needs in cold weather.
When Fashion embraces FUNCTIONALITY
Weather should not de-personalize our sartorial choices. When function is the first priority, the options which truly answer those needs are very limited in selection and in style. By rethinking the way we protect our bodies, Lee found the layering that properly allows the protection of the most vulnerable areas of our bodies while optimizing mobility for on-the-go lifestyles. Starkweather offers outerwear solutions for women in the city seeking a balance between style and function. Through its layering principle, Starkweather is a year round collection for the most extreme weather days as well as transitional seasons.
Each installation of layers is designed as an ongoing collection that can be mixed and matched with past and future seasons. Each Starkweather customer can develop and curate their own personal Starkweather collection. Starkweather is constantly working to improve the effectiveness and aesthetic integrity of its designs. Currently, that means exploring ergonomic construction solutions, and the possibilities with fabrics that have all the qualities of luxury textiles with added benefits such as sun protection, wind proofing, and body temperature regulation.
Through extensive research, Starkweather identifies the textile industry’s most high performance luxury fabrics, empowering the designs to be refined and urbane while delivering on the promise of purpose.
Fashion of the future will be a balance of aesthetics and science. Starkweather is asking the questions now to have the answers for tomorrow.
I had the chance to meet Lee Anderson before she left Paris to go back to New York, at the first Fashion & Tech Startup Weekend in Paris she organized in late September. Bringing together industry professionals as judges and coaches for a weekend long entrepreneurial workshop attended by participants passionate about the merging of fashion and technology.
She delivered me her vision of Fashion & Technology mergence as well as her views of the Fashion industry today.
Clausette: Hi Lee, what do you like so much about Paris that you came here after graduating from Parsons and working in the Fashion industry in New York?
Lee Anderson: Paris symbolises quality for me, the Fashion and Art heritage of the city is so rich. I think Paris enables a richer and stronger creativity. The Fashion industry there gives more choices of high quality handcrafted fabrics, people have a true savoir-faire and Paris is the capital of Fashion!
C: Starkweather’s crux seems to be some wonderful winter garments, tell us more about it!
LA: I think clothes should be designed from biological thinking: created to maintain your warm body temperature by protecting the core and neck, the crux offers refuge for cold hands in the central muff pocket. It changes the way you think about getting dressed to go outside. I imagined it to be practical, for a more natural way of dressing in the winter without the fussiness of styling a scarf. And my customers love it! At first they wonder how to put it on, but once I’ve shown them how simply it pulls on over the head, they immediately adopt it.
C: What kind of fabrics do you use?
LA: Designing stylish clothes for cold winter (and I come from Chicago so you can imagine how cold it is out there) requires a certain creativity. The idea was not to design sportive or Gore-Tex clothes, we’re in the city not on the ski slopes :). So I chose to use fine fabrics using natural fibers: felt, wool, cashmere or waterproof fabrics presented in a different way, so it offers full protection from cold. Now I am working with new materials such as felt or lambskin, which are characteristically windproof.
C: You held the first ever Fashion & Tech Week, as part of the Global Fashion Battle with parallel events in New York, London, Milan and Paris before a final pitch competition in Poznan Poland during the 8th annual Art & Fashion Forum in late September, tell us what is your vision of the mergence of Fashion & Technology today and tomorrow?
LA: I think the start-up mentality can help change things in the Fashion industry. Techies have a lot to teach and bring to Fashion: always experimenting, they’re full of energy with the will of changing the world. I’m inspired by their positive energy to rethink Fashion, be disruptive and break the drawn lines of Fashion. Designers have to collaborate with engineers to imagine what the future can be. The Fashion industry has to reinvent itself and the Tech industry can help it to.
C: Well I couldn’t say better! I read your manifesto about what I think to be a great and promising initiative. Tell us more about it.
LA: Over the past ten years, I have seen the fashion industry from inside a fast growing Designer Ready to Wear business producing biannual runway shows in New York, from the rows of the runways as a critic in Paris, and from the fringes as a new designer trying to find her place in the ever more crowded space. From each of those vantage points I’ve identified pain points that seem to be just as inconvenient or irritating or inefficient for everyone involved. I wrote a proposal to launch an initiative for change during fashion weeks around the world: The Runway Opening Act.