Sheila Imandoust and Krista Bachmeier are the LA based duo behind Town Clothes, the emerging brand sourcing sustainable fabrics and natural dyes. Drawing inspiration from their surrounding California landscape, the coastal lines and the Mojave Desert; Town Clothes presents a tailored, masculine-feminine collection for FW15.
How did you and Krista meet and what were you doing prior to this collaboration and did you have personal projects that you were involved with before?
We'd both been living in San Francisco for a few years and ended up in the same circle of art and music people. We were introduced by mutual friends and connected very fast. While in SF Krista had a WO online store that was called Light Vision- it was really ahead of its time. I (Sheila) have always been a vintage clothing person, buying and selling in some capacity, whether it be through a brick and mortar store, online, or wholesale.
Tell me a bit about yourselves, where are you from, where did you go to school, how did you become involved in fashion design?
We're both returned Southern California ex-pats. We both decamped Southern California, swearing to never return, for school in San Francisco- Krista at CCA for fashion/textile design and myself at USF for architecture. Clothes have always been a passion for us both- specifically that fantastic thing that happens when an individual says something about themselves by wearing something well. Style and expression are so dynamic, so interesting. Krista did a full collection as a part of her thesis that got picked up by MAC in San Francisco. I had always wanted to make clothes and found an outlet in vintage. Working on this project with Krista has been a fantastic education. This is definitely a first for us both in terms of jumping into the fashion industry's schedule.
What is the story behind your FW15 collection? What was the inspiration for it?
The Fall collection is kind of a Mojave masculine-feminine. We were really inspired by the famous images of young Diana Vreeland, our nearby desert landscape, and menswear, always menswear!
How do you see the progression between your SS15 and FW15 collections?
Spring is a lot more casual. Because we're doing these little capsule collections, we initially wanted to execute one idea and do it well. I think we were successful with that but then got a little more ambitious with FW15. There are more design aspects to it and it is much more tailored.
What is your inspiration in general, as well as creative and technical process?
We're hugely inspired by environment; The California Central Coast, Mojave Desert, and Marin Headlands are of particular significance to us both. Other inspiration includes the LA flower market, the San Francisco Diggers, outlaw country music, The Family Acid, Sheila Hicks, estate sales, the men's department...
We usually have a few design meetings at the beginning of a collection to put together ideas and discuss our latest inspirations. After we have some ideas of the pieces we want to do and general ideas about color, we go swatch fabrics at our favorite jobber downtown. It’s important to be open and flexible at this stage. Once we've finished sourcing fabric, Krista begins working on the patterns. We already have a lot of our fabric for SS16 and we're looking forward to experiencing how that affects the design process.
Who are the photographers that you work with? The photos shot by Michelle Ross are beautiful!
Michelle Ross is a very dear friend of ours. She has been taking photos of bands and friends for years, this was her first experience shooting clothes- she killed it! Michelle and Judith Rothman-Pierce shot our first collection and they both have a great eye. We were lucky enough to get the chance to work with Clara Balzary for our FW15 collection. She is an incredible photographer and has such a lovely, joyful, vibe- I think that really translates into her work.
How do you source your fabric and what do you use for the dyes?
We have been sourcing fabric from a great jobber in downtown LA- leftover industry yardage ends up here. It’s a great way to acquire fabric for limited run ideas- we have some pink mohair we're sitting on, just couldn't not buy it. We look for companies with politics that align with ours, particularly fabrics made in an ethical or environmentally sound way by people who are fairly compensated.
For our first collection we used a silk noil then garment-dyed one colorway with indigo, and piece-dyed another with onion skins. We ended up doing the dying for both ourselves, which was quite the experience as we had more orders than originally anticipated! We definitely want to work with natural dyes in the future, but we'd have to figure out a way that is more efficient. During different points of production for SS15, we would spend two weeks surrounded by wet fabric. Talk about a labor of love.
Where do you see the line heading and what is in store for you in the future?
In the immediate future, you will find us at the May Mercado Sagrado in Topanga Canyon- we’re very excited for this! We'll be working on a limited run of pieces specifically for this event. Long term, we have work to do on streamlining our production process, as we're still very new. Ultimately, we're very interested in production- there is so much to it.
What designers and brands do you admire?
We love Laura Schoorl's eponymous line of clothing, sheepskin bags, and calfskin slides: minimal and clean without the fuss. The woman is a powerhouse, she also does a line of organic cotton, naturally dyed, underwear and bras called Pansy that just kills it. We love Point Reyes-based Buena Vista: masterful construction, casual elegance with a subtle and elevated sense of humor. Also, Milena Silvano! The level of craftsmanship in her patchwork hide jackets is totally unreal. And always, the team of wonder women over at Gravel & Gold: print design masters, San Francisco, CA!
What are you listening to at the moment?
We listen to a lot of country. You may be able to tell this by looking at the names of our pieces: Gram, Flying Burrito Brothers, etc. Also, LA punk band VIAL, Mane from San Francisco, Jessica Pratt's new LP on Drag City, and always a lot of Neil Young.