Designer Lucy from HissyFit talks about her unique designs.
Sassafras: You have a unique market. How did you decide where to focus your clothing designs?
Lucy: I make the clothes that I want to wear. Honestly, it's that simple. Luckily for me, there's enough other gals out there who like the look, fit, quality, and style of what I make that I've been able to keep at it (full-time) for the last 5 years. I focus on making one-of-a-kind clothing for one-of-a-kind customers.
Sassafras: How did you come up with the awesome clothing line name?
Lucy: "HissyFit" describes how I feel when I find great, fun clothes but they're only made up to a size 12. (Seriously, I want to stomp and scream; it's sooo frustrating!) I also wanted a name that emphasizes the idea of clothing that "fits."
Sassafras: HissyFit clothing seems to be targeted at curvier gals who have confidence in their fashion sense. How would you describe HissyFit style?
Lucy: My style is really a mash-up of my favorite things: classic, figure-flattering silhouettes (not to be negative, but short, tight, and low-waisted are not trends I'm ever likely to rock); unique fabrics (especially odd prints); and some modern conveniences (like sturdy construction for easier laundering and care). The end result is clothing that has a vintage vibe but is quirky, off-beat, a little askew. I really think of all clothing as costumes -- not (necessarily) in a flamboyant sense but in terms of how we choose what to wear on any given day based on who we want to project that we "are" (at the moment). Clothing is also social and context-based, so we use it to direct others' interactions with us. (Thus, a "sexy" date dress not only conveys "I'm sexy" but also conditions how others will/can/should approach me; likewise with a "serious" business suit.) What do HissyFit clothes say? I'd like to think that they project an "I am fascinating" message and encourage positive engagement from others.
Sassafras: When you begin designing a new piece, what are your inspirations? Where do you start? Who are you designing for?
Lucy: I begin either with a design-situation goal or with a specific fabric that I want to use. Design-wise, my aim is to craft a garment to suit a body tope while fulfilling certain social roles (for example, I'll set out to make a dress for an "apple" body to be worn in "professional" settings.) Sometimes I can get very specific; other times this character plus setting is more general. Fabric-wise, my goal is to do justice to the properties and beauty of a specific, vintage (or new) fabric. How does it hang or drape? What style-lines or shapes would be most flattering? How could this be used in an unexpected way? And, since I have odd-sized yardage and like to use it all efficiently, what can I make out of this 2.5 yards of amazing-balls 1960's polished cotton with a frolicking kitten print?
Sassafras: How did you get started with fashion design?
Lucy: Well, I've been sewing since I was quite young (my mom's an avid seamstress and crafty sewer), plus wearing, repairing, altering, and selling plus-size vintage clothes since I was in high school. Over time, finding well-made clothes (vintage or new) that actually fit my body and style just became more and more of a challenge. Making clothes from scratch is, to me, less of a hassle and much more rewarding. Honestly, I prefer to think o of and refer to myself as a "dressmaker" rather than a "fashion designer," since what I do isn't so much inventing a brand new trend, concept, or shape, but instead, re-interpreting a look for a specific client or re-fashioning a classic style for real bodies in the here and now.
Sassafras: Your studio has shelves filled with vintage fabrics. Where do you find such a range of high-quality fabric?
Lucy: I source every material and trim in person, from Pacific NW shops, garages, attics, yards, auctions, bins, and the occasional free pile. I also have a reputation among my associates as a "fabric person," so I get lots of friendly tips about good sales and sources (for once, being the "weird fabric lady" pays off!) On the vintage fabric topic: I make the majority of my clothes out of vintage, recycled fabrics (un-used yardage) because, ideologically, this reflects my anti-consumerist, make-do-and-mend mentality. I'm kind of obsessed with how we (humans) have appropriated and exploited the resources of our planet in the name of "growth" and "free markets" (which are neither healthy nor liberating for most people, not to mention other creatures). Pragmatically, I use vintage fabrics because they are unique and fit with the style of my vintage-inspired designs. They also tend to be of higher quality than new fabrics, which means that they last longer and provide the right structure and feel to a finished garment.