In our sweetest dreams we are outfitted in Emerson Fry’s entire collection of clothing and accessories from head-to-toe. Emerson, a US-based designer, creates the type designs that you feel good about wearing season after season: A testament to their timelessness, superior quality, and effortless modernity.
Our attraction isn’t just based on looks, either – the main Emerson Fry line is produced here in the United States (smaller heritage capsule collections are carefully produced elsewhere), using ethical production methods and sustainable materials. While this dedication to conscious design isn’t something Emerson blatantly wears on her sleeve – ha ha – it lends her work an air of quiet, considered thoughtfulness.
To begin, we’d love to hear the story of how you established your namesake brand.
We started Emerson Fry from the ground up in 2009. We had a lot of initial positive response and success, and quickly expanded the line into a full apparel and accessory range in 2011. Today we are a small independent company. Our goal is to create products and processes with intention, love, and balance.
From the beginning we have focused on USA partners and production. As time has gone on, we have focused on partners that match our broader goals about life environment and business. Starting from nothing has been equal parts challenging and rewarding. When you own your own business you can really define the rules as you go, which is exciting. We have been fortunate to meet and develop relationships with really great and amazing people and have the benefit of watching them grow and evolve along with us.
What are some of the guiding principles of Emerson Fry, and how are they expressed through your (stunning) designs?
We believe in the power and beauty of the individual. Our goal is to get the most out of life while minimizing impact on our surroundings. Through minimizing this impact, we are inherently supporting people who have ideas, perhaps new ideas, and are thinking about the future.One of the things we talk about most is balance. Our customer needs to work and she needs to play. The clothing we collect represents the continuous opportunity to experience life, and ourselves, in a new way. It’s as light or as heavy as you want it to be. It can have deep significance or it can be just for fun. You can make yourself the canvas of everything you think about and love in life. We don’t need to define ourselves to one extreme or another, because we can be many things as desired or needed. Our pieces are meant to be versatile, dressed up, dressed down, layered and worn with ease.
“One of the things we talk about most is balance. Our customer needs to work and she needs to play. The clothing we collect represents the continuous opportunity to experience life, and ourselves, in a new way.”
The creative process for us is not just about creating beautiful design, but also creating something that customers can have a connection to. This is a combination of intention, materials, and versatility.
What type of person are you designing for?
The modern woman is really the story that has not been told about women. She is powerful and in many ways indefinable. She is doing things her own way and not going to play antiquated roles. So in that sense you cant really define her and say who she is because she is continually evolving and defining herself as she goes.
In terms of the types of pieces she is buying, we are finding that people are coming to us because they want a connection to their clothes and the companies they support. They are looking for quality over quantity, and things that feel special and personal to them. The more you interact with your belongings, the longer your relationship with them, and the deeper significance they have in your life.
“In terms of the types of pieces she is buying we are finding that people are coming to us because they want a connection to their clothes and the companies they support. They are looking for quality over quantity, and things that feel special and personal to them.”
Buying USA-made and knowing where things come from has been really important for this woman. Versatility is really important, too— you have to have things that you can wear different ways.
Your line is largely produced in the US. Can you talk a bit about working domestically and why that’s important to you?
We want to work with people who put care and quality in the products. This benefits the customers and enhances life on a deeper level. Customers are excited by what the human hand can create.Working domestically is about developing relationships and creating jobs. We are able to support people we know and trust and therefore develop long-standing relationships. They, in turn, do the same to us. It allows us to work closely with our partners and get the most out of the process. Manufacturing in our country has been gutted over the past 20 years.
As a country we need to create jobs for today and for tomorrow. Every job created in our country matters. People are finally realizing this is more important then cheap goods. Slowly, companies making products in the USA are coming back.
Here at S.W. Basics, we pride ourselves in adhering to a “less is everything” philosophy. How does minimalism figure into the Emerson Fry aesthetic and story?
Well I think communicating that minimalism is not about restriction or scarcity is important. Minimalism is really about editing your life down to only things you really love and being able to let go of things when they are not serving you. It allows you to make room for things you want and need, or just to make space for space itself.
“Minimalism is really about editing your life down to only things you really love and being able to let go of things when they are not serving you. It allows you to make room for things you want and need, or just to make space for space itself.”
Likewise, it’s important for us that we’re an environmentally responsible, low-impact company – and you are, too! What are some of the sustainable business practices that Emerson Fry engages in?
Customers want to see a greater consciousness in design and practices and modern materials that reflect that. This really harmonizes with the greater cultural movement that we are watching: people are aware of what they are eating, what they are buying, where their products come from.We have a strong belief in the longevity of a garment. Making informed conscious decisions and investing in things that are going to serve you for many years because you can do so many things with these pieces. This simple action directly relates back to the reduction of total inputs and environmental impacts.
As a rule, we are incorporating the best fabrics we can source focusing on mostly natural fibers. We are using more and more organic materials and will continue to expand that line. For example, this season our sweater wools are raised sustainably in Oregon by a small family ranch. Their land management practices are ideal and they produce premium quality wools.It’s an exciting time as more and more ethical options are available within the industry and, ultimately, for the customer.
Let’s talk about your Fall ’15 collection. It’s absolutely beautiful. In particular, we love the Triangle Sweater. Can you speak to this design and elaborate on why you’re using Soft Imperial Wool?
The line is a blend of East and West. Eastern volume and shapes balanced with Western tailoring. The continual un-sweetening of the stereotype of femininity is very important. The fact that we are seeing really strong female silhouettes without an emphasis on body consciousness and sweetness is really relevant and forward-looking.
“The continual un-sweetening of the stereotype of femininity is very important. The fact that we are seeing really strong female silhouettes without an emphasis on body consciousness and sweetness is really relevant and forward-looking.”
For fall, we’re building a wardrobe of really versatile layering pieces that you can rely on throughout the week and layer in different ways. A big part of the way we cut our clothes is with an emphasis on being able to layer them up and deconstruct them into single garments. Being able to change your silhouette based on how you layer light and heavy pieces together gives you a lot of simplicity and a lot of options.
The Triangle Sweater is texturally dynamic, beautiful, versatile and utilizes 100% low impact materials. The initial draw to Imperial Wool was their farming practices and the fact they were domestic. This was exciting as almost all wool comes from overseas, and a large majority comes from unethical practices. We were so pleasantly surprised at their incredible quality and craftsmanship. It is by far the softest wool we have ever used and we are so excited about it. While it’s a small detail, relationships like this are really exciting for us, and hopefully the customer.
Lastly, how did you come across S.W. Basics? Do you have a favorite product?
When I found S.W. Basics, I had been searching for pure, simple, organic, totally non-toxic skin care. I was completely blown away by your company’s principles, the quality, the purity and the fact that it is all organic. You’ve really defined a product line that is absolutely pristine in terms of skin health, philosophy and ingredients. Thank you so much from us and many of your fans we know personally. It’s hard to choose a favorite product… there are so many… If I have to choose right now, I love the Lemongrass Body Oil, and also the Cream.