Amy Kuschel's Ready to Wear Line
Our pop up this month is with Amy Kuschel! Amy is well known for making beautiful wedding dresses (she made my wedding dress!), but recently phased out that part of her business to focus on ready to wear clothing for women. Her line is full of vintage-inspired garments that are sustainably & thoughtfully made right here in San Francisco. Think about it, a designer that has made custom wedding dresses for years has got to know a thing or two about what women want! We had a little chat with Amy and her answer my questions.
1. How did your business come to be, what's your backstory?
I started my career in NYC after graduating from FIT. Years later, after a frustrating search for my own wedding gown, my hubby and I launched Amy Kuschel Bride. At the time, it was hard to find elevated style that was also affordable. With my design background, I knew it was a problem we could solve - so I created a collection of simple, elegant wedding gowns, made right here in San Francisco.
Fast forward - 20 amazing years later - and we’re inspired by a new challenge: the fashion crisis that’s wreaking havoc on our closets and our environment. This really sparked a desire to advocate for a better relationship with fashion. So we took a big leap this summer and phased out of our custom bridal collection to focus on our collection of sustainable everyday clothes.
We’ve built a unique bond with our brides and we’re excited for the opportunity to dress them beyond the aisle in style that makes peace with their wardrobes and mother nature. It’s a really exciting evolution for us as a brand. And from a design perspective, I’m thrilled to create a collection that reflects my lifestyle and personal style. Our pieces are locally made and built on great design with purpose.
2. Can you share a bit about your process?
Absolutely. First off, everything is always changing, so my process isn’t always the same. I typically start with an idea or ideas that I want to bring to life. I usually create a handful of sketches for each design to flush out different design details. Fabric sourcing is something we’re doing all the time. Once a particular design comes into focus, I start to hone in on which fabrics might work best for that silhouette. End-use is important - I want fabrics that are elevated, but not too fussy. For me, that’s the key to making a piece that’s highly versatile and can be worn all the time. Sustainability is a key component in all aspects - from our materials to the usefulness of the actual garment. While the sketching is underway and the fabrics are selected, I work with my pattern maker to convey the desired look and feel of each garment. Patterns are then drafted and prototypes are sewn - and slowly but surely, the pieces come to life. Editing for fit and design elements is a critical stage of the design experience. We spend a lot of time testing fabrics, which can be frustrating, but it’s so critical that the material is on point. Fit and fabric can make or break a style. These details are so important. It's a labor of love, equal parts challenging and rewarding. Costing is considered along the way and finalized once the design is perfected.
3. What inspires your designs?
For our ready to wear, I find inspiration everywhere, it's always evolving. The mod look of the ’60s is one of my favorite eras, channeling those iconic shapes from fashion and architecture. I love that. One of my favorite muses is Jean Shrimpton - she has such a strong sense of style. I always like to put my own spin on things, modernizing the cut, reviewing the hemlines, and especially the fabrications. I’m also inspired by what people are going to want to wear. A lot! It’s really important to me that the clothes I create are useful.
We responsibly source our textiles and use natural fibers like organic cotton, linen, and Tencel because they’re grown seasonally, breathable, and biodegradable. With our 2020 collection, we plan to launch the ultimate sustainable collection made of only natural materials that compost. So after you’ve worn our clothes out, literally and figuratively, they’ll feed the earth and give back to the next generation. It’s truly making peace with our wardrobes and mother nature. As an advocate for sustainability, I’m super excited about this next step, but it’s one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. I plan to share the journey with our community, from sourcing to styling, slow fashion is what this line is all about. I like to think of it as the peace you’ll wear all the time. #wearmeout.
4. What are your top 3 favorite things to do in San Francisco?
Oooh. This is too hard - there are so many things. And for me, it’s the simple, everyday pleasures that really make this city so special. A few favorite things I did this week:
- Shopping local at places like the farmer’s market in the ferry building
- Walking the labyrinth at Grace Cathedral and taking in the views of the city
- Volunteering at Edgewood - from breakfast clubs to afternoon BBQs