A One On One Interview with Fashion Designer Sarah Liller

“Clothes aren’t just about looking good but also about feeling good about yourself when you wear them, and that feeling of joy and ease is the core of my design inspiration.” -Sarah Liller

Straight out of the words of a chemist gone designer. I am continually inspired by Sarah’s passion her work. I remember the day that I met her like it was yesterday; she was the only one in the room who asked a smart question with intention and direction. Of course I had to meet her! I was completely blown away by her latest video and photo shoot taken in the heart of this beautiful city. It reflects everything that her clothes represent; carefree, beautiful and completely comfortable. I still watch it and want an ice cream cone every time! I can’t wait to have her clothes walk down the runway at our upcoming event next Saturday.

 

Fashion, Love, and Rock n’ Roll…

Three words that Sarah Liller lives by.

Cyn: How long have you been designing and when was the moment that you realized fashion design was your calling?

Sarah: My mom was a pretty accomplished seamstress and made a lot of my clothes growing up. She taught me to sew when I was 13 (I still use her Kenmore sewing machine from the 70′s). I had always sketched outfits I wanted to make, but I now had the skills to make my designs into a reality. I worked at a fabric store in high school and started making most of my own clothes, since I never really liked anything in the stores at that time. In college, I kind of put design on the backburner. I worked on my bachelor’s and master’s degrees (in chemistry of all things) and while in grad school, realized how unhappy I was with my career path at the time. I did some soul searching and realized that the only thing I could really get passionate about was fashion, so I applied to Parson’s in New York, was accepted, and moved the following August, not having ever been there before. It was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life. Parson’s taught me pattern making and draping and helped me develop my identity as a designer, and every time I design a dress and manifest it from sketch to 3D, I am reminded of how good of a decision it was.

In what ways does the SF fashion scene parallel the NYC fashion scene? Which do you prefer?

San Francisco is a great place to be an up and coming designer. In New York, it’s very easy to get lost in the sea of new designers. Also, the fashion scene in New York is much more trend driven. Trends are great, but the customer who completely follows trends is finicky and hard to keep. San Francisco fashion is more about defining who the designer is, what their aesthetic is, producing locally, and showing the public something they’ve never seen before. Trends come and go, but having a defined design perspective and knowing your customer gives your company lasting power.


What is your opinion of the fashion scene in SF? Who do you admire the most and why?

One of my greatest inspirations in the design world is Betsey Johnson. She owned her company completely up until a couple years ago, which gave her control over her name and the brand. She knew her customer and was true to her aesthetic even as styles changed. She adapted but didn’t completely change with coming and going trends, she made a lot of money doing it, and she seems super fun. My long term goal is to grow my company like she did, slowly with a lot of control over the look and quality of the brand.

She also really loves what she does. When asked about any advice she can give to young up and coming designers she always says, “Love it! You have to love it because it’s a lot of work.” It’s so true! Through the late nights and long hours sewing until your fingers bleed, you have to have a love for what you do because only about 5% of fashion is glamorous, the rest is a lot of hard work.

Tell me more about the inspiration behind your designs. What designers do you look to for inspiration?

A lot of designers are inspired by art or other visual media, but I find that I am really inspired by music, life, and emotion. I tie a lot of the way I’m dressing to how I feel at the time. I want my clothes to mirror my customer’s mood. They are carefree, easy, and beautiful because I want women to feel that way. The clothes are inspired by the attitude of a care-free girl who loves experiencing life. “Clothes aren’t just about looking good but also about feeling good about yourself when you wear them, and that feeling of joy and ease is the core of my design inspiration.” -Sarah Liller

Want more? Visit her website at http://www.sarahliller.com

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