Hey there! Welcome to my second installment of Faces & Places – my new interview series that explores the amazing, interesting and inspiring faces of Chicago and the world, the places that define these makers in their element of creativity and how travel affects their lives. You can check out the first post in my series here!
For my second post, I am SO excited to introduce you to Arianna Jamerson, a friend and the principle designer of fashion brand Assata Designs, a revived clothing company that empowers women and adds flair to their wardrobes with classic lines and closet staples. I got to sit down with Arianna and learn more about her brand!
Image courtesy of Assata Designs
MZ: Tell us about yourself and your fashion brand, Assata Designs.
AJ: I’m Arianna Jamerson, principle designer of Assata Designs. The company was originally started by my mother in the late 80s; she was featured in the original Marshall Fields and Carson Pirie Scott also had her line.
I remember watching her design, and then take it in-house and make wedding and prom dresses and all these transformative pieces that women would come to our house and try on and love and feel like a new person in. I always loved that experience, which is why I think clothes are really important to me – because of the transformation.
She still makes clothes; I thought I would try my hand at it too. I love it and it’s the most fulfilling thing that I do, and so I took my mom’s name and here I am!
Assata is a fashion company that specializes in accenting every curve of every woman with unique pieces and accessories that speak for themselves. The cross-body bags, clutches, etc. are made from 100% leather and suede materials and completely customizable with pop-of-color inserts and linings.
MZ: What’s your creative process like?
AJ: I always start with the fabrics. I never go into a fabric store with an idea of a silhouette or what this collection’s going to look like or what I plan on mass-producing – I always just walk in and look at the colors and textures.
There’s so many different cool things they’re doing with textiles now – 3D printing (even 3D prints on fabric), embossing, laser cutting, mesh, everything – so I always try to look at the fabric and get inspired by that. I would say a quarter of my creative process happens in the store; touching the fabrics, stretching the fabrics, and then the rest happens at my studio at home – mostly at night, because that’s when the best ideas come!
When I get home I play around with the fabrics – usually what I actually sew first as a prototype is not the final piece – it’s always just something I’m playing around with (and it always works out for me because it’s made for my size!). Then I sit with it and work with the piece, and the idea kind of spreads from there.
MZ: Where is the last place you traveled or favorite place you have traveled?
AJ: The last place I traveled was Myrtle Beach with family and it was really relaxing but there were a lot of us. My favorite place I’ve traveled… Aruba. I love the people, I love the weather, I love the island vibe. But specifically, the people. We went over the New Year – the people are so friendly and hospitable. And the barefoot beaches where you can eat dinner in the sand are my favorite!
MZ: How do you find inspiration from travel?
AJ: I think resort wear is definitely purposefully it’s own category within fashion because the conventions in which you dress are totally different. There’s a lot more liberty and experimentation in resort wear. The easy answer would be that I find inspiration from lightweight prints that are bold that one can’t necessarily categorize everyday wear – but I also think it’s a time when you can try new things, new silhouettes, new designs that you can repeat in other places.
MZ: Where’s your favorite place to find inspiration in Chicago?
AJ: If I had to narrow the scope, I would say any kind of place or festival where you can people-watch. My favorite thing about fashion is how people put things together – things that I wouldn’t think of putting together in my own closet; especially since I make jumpsuits and I’d rather just grab one thing and go. But I love to see the different looks, which inspire me, and since we’re a city that’s known for festivals in the summer, I would say – even just being near the festivals is a good thing!
MZ: Anything else you want to share?
AJ: I made Assata Designs for every woman – I feel that there is something so profoundly fulfilling about being a woman.
I don’t want anyone who doesn’t feel like they may not have curves, necessarily, that this brand isn’t for them, because Assata celebrates every curve of every body. It’s about feeling empowered as a woman.
Want to see more inspiration and looks from Arianna? Follow her on Instagram here!