Sustainable Brand: Paloma Soledad
Sustainable Brand: Paloma Soledad
1. Please tell us about Paloma Soledad?
I was born in California but grew up in Hawaii. My father is an artist and remains a die-hard surfer. My mother had a line of tribal inspired clothing in the early years and sews to this day, selling at craft fairs and on Etsy. I began helping her with small sewing tasks at the age of 3. I had a very Bohemian childhood where everything was an excuse to be creative. I was always encouraged to explore all types of cultures and avenues for knowledge and self-expression We also learned to appreciate traditional fashion ideals: hard work, always giving your best, making do with what you have and most of all, a pragmatic yet positive attitude to life.
Overall, like any artist, I’m inspired by the game of observation. I love the humanity of New York and its rich layers of time. Experiencing an old place with its the ripples of history is an endless discovery for me. I go on long walks in the City, surveying the textures and colors, nature and man-made. I try to bring this attitude, this appreciation of the interaction between the old and the new, into my work. Lately, our culture is so throwaway, a need to consume so rapidly that nothing is truly savored anymore. Things are manufactured by people earning 25 cents a day or worse, robots! I want to create pieces that are thoughtful; that have a story; each one designed and lovingly matched with curious antiques discarded by time. I strive to build collections made exquisitely enough to be called an heirloom. I obsess about stitching to perfection. I take the time to create a beautiful piece without thinking about how many hours are spent. I want my work to stand as critique of our mass-produced, profit-driven culture.
2. How did you get started? When did you get started?
We never had a TV in our house so we were forced to find creative ways to entertain ourselves. I spent my time drawing fashion and reading vintage comic books like Conan and Mad Magazine, their ironic viewpoint of the world and warrior women who kicked ass fascinated me. I started making my own Halloween costumes as a pre-teen and continued the tradition with increasingly extravagant ensembles into my 20’s. I graduated with a degree in photography from Cal Arts but I never stopped my love of the craft. I worked in the entertainment industry for the next decade designing and fabricating costumes for feature films and theater. This eventually brought me to Portland, Oregon working on the stop-motion film Coraline whose small scale costumes tapped into my childhood doll making days. I loved the experience but despite being surrounded by 300 brilliant artists, all creating a masterpiece, I still felt trapped. I wanted to grow something that was solely my own. After finishing a particularly intricate corset I had designed for one of the miniature characters in the film, I vowed to start my own line of finely detailed corsetry when the film ended. In 2009, I dug into my collection of textiles, notions and hardware and created my first corset line. The finished collection won “Best Emerging Designer” portion at Portland Fashion Week.
That same year I also teamed up on a side project with the abstract expressionist oil painter and sculptor Robb Kramer, whom I had met working on Coraline. I found his paintings filled with bold colors and engaging brushstrokes inspiring. His ethereal compositions have an almost psychedelic effect. I felt these paintings calling out to me, and wanted to blend their aesthetic with high fashion. What ensued was a line of one of a kind garments, handmade painted silk couture; dresses, scarves, bolero jackets and shawls. We call our collaboration MYTHAUS.
3. Where are you based?
Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York.
4. It looks like you design a mix of different things. Which is your favorite?
My love of corsetry propelled my early work, I wanted my brand to empower women, like modern day superheroes. After moving to New York, I had to rethink my approach to design. Weather dictates so much on the East coast: hot humid in summer, cold and frigid in winter. To command a room, today’s working woman “superhero” must be comfortable. The corsets became less about constraint and more about versatility. This need drives my line of reversible summer belts (party on the outside, business on the inside). I find they look best with garments that don't fit properly, that are slightly too big. It’s the perfect way to avoid discarding items in your closet as the corset helps repurpose them without alterations. All pieces can be worn as lingerie, but are designed for the office, a dinner engagement or social event.
This year, going in the opposite direction, I'm thrilled to debut my new line of non-restrictive blouses and dresses, featuring original hand-crocheted pieces from the early 1900’s, when a woman might spend her time sewing or crocheting popular items like doilies for centerpieces and lace tops for intimate wear. These forgotten treasures represent countless hours of love and skill. My goal is to honor the beauty of these items with effortlessly comfortable garments that look great with or without a corset belt.
5. Please tell us how you are sustainable?
I was raised with a “make-do” attitude. As a child my mother would take us to upscale department stores during the holidays to rifle through the discarded holiday detritus, elaborate wrapping paper and ribbons. I’ve always been aware of other people’s wastefulness and have used it to my advantage.
My garments are handmade made in New York City utilizing a combination of up-cycled factory ends (I recently partnered with FABSCRAP in NYC), vintage materials and no-waste patterns, using excess pieces from larger garments for my smaller articles. The materials I collect inspire the designs and fuel my creativity.
6. Do you dress with sustainable brands, if so please list.
7. What do you think of Fast Fashion vs. Slow (Sustainable) Fashion?
I feel in some ways, fast fashion has ruined people's view of a garment’s value. This loss of recognition adds to our throwaway society. The $15 dress, when broken down into components can't be made for $15 without some karmic pain. This desensitizing leads to shock and dismissal over a sustainable price tag. I create garments that are timeless, made by someone who loves her craft and designed to be worn year after year.
I understand that not everyone can afford sustainable fashion, but there are still ways to be more ethical in your shopping habits. Consuming trends at a slower rate and thoughtful purchasing can avoid discarding barely used items. There are other ways of limiting waste and utilizing a garment to its fullest potential: fixing a garment, giving or trading with friends, donating to thrift stores and finally...using it as a rag to clean the house, etc instead of those terrible paper towels!
8. I love your corsets, we featured a corset from you on our upcoming editorial with Summer Rayne Oakes. What do you think of that?
I am absolutely delighted to have Summer Rayne Oakes photographed in my clothing. The work that she has done and the dedication to bettering the planet is so impressive. Bringing awareness to problems with the fashion industry is an uphill battle and we need more young energetic entrepreneurs like her. She is the kind of woman who inspires me and whom I design for; one who has made her own way in the world, whose accomplishments contribute positively to society. She cares about the story behind items purchased and knows that her dollar makes a difference. I love following Summer’s beautiful images of plants and gardening on Instagram. It is so reminiscent of how my mother would collect abandoned dresser-draws, to grow lettuce and other vegetables on our porch, because we didn't always have access to fresh greens. She was an urban farmer too!
9. Where do you sell your products?
Through my two online stores – http://www.palomasoledad.com and http://shop.mythaus.com - at private fittings by appointment in my Williamsburg Studio, trunk shows and salon parties at my clients’ offices or homes.
10. What press have you received?
My “Best Emerging Designer at Portland Fashion Week”, award was featured in SPINmagazine.com. I was named one of Entertainment Weekly’s “Eight Costume Designers turned Fashion Headliner”
My work has also been highlighted in About Face, Examiner, The Green Loop, Oregon Live, and Portland Monthly
11. Do any celebrities wear your designs?
Recently, I recreated an Amazonian warrior costume for Leslie Jones to wear during her Themyscira sketch on Saturday Night Live with Gal Gadot. I did it in 38 hours! As for other celebrities, my experience is that they prefer not to be name-checked and that discretion is partly why they keep coming back.
12. What is your social media info?
Produced by Alison Hernon, Fashion Director, Jejune Magazine