Studio Visit: Nanette Lepore

studio visit nanette lepore the style line

Photo of Nanette Lepore at her design studio and factory in the Garment District by Rachel Schwartzman

Powerhouse contemporary designer Nanette Lepore,

is the epitome of an empowering industry figure who lives and designs with no apologies. The evolution of the her brand proves that passion is vital when it comes to making a stylish statement that resonates. This summer we had the pleasure of sitting down with Nanette at her Garment District design studio and chatting about ethics in fashion, how she got her start and what’s next in her fashion repertoire.

How long have you been interested and active in fashion?

I’ve been interested in fashion since I was 12 and have been working over 25 years. It’s a very different place, and it was a little more exciting to be in the garment district, with so much activity and excitement with factory workers. There was a thrill about being here, but also I was one of the few designers at that time. We felt like a special small club.

Tell us about your design process.

It’s gotten a little more fragmented, because I’m doing so many different things. I’ve gotten a little ADD-like! Running from situation to situation, there are so many things I’m overseeing and designing and working in conjunction with designers who also work for me.

We love your tumblr, what do you like showcasing the most on it? How much of a role does social media play in shaping your brand? How much do you want it to?

I think it’s wonderful, because we can create our own excitement and we can put out the look and preference, instead of waiting! With editorial you have to wait to be placed, which is equally rewarding, but this is wonderful, because it’s such an outlet. I love to see what people are doing with my clothing and the fact that everyone can see it also. It’s a great way to access real people, and real personality!

You’ve been an active voice in the efforts to protect the garment center, how did this come about and how have you personally shown your support?

We had a cousin in town who was visiting. They decided to ride one of the double decker buses, and when they got the garment center, the announcer said, “This is Fashion Ave. but all designers are moving to China, so nothing will ever be the same.” I was stunned that the press was out there and people were under that perception. I started to realize how endangered we actually were, and the city had other plans for the neighborhood. I decided to start speaking up for my own livelihood and for the future of American fashion.

What significance do you feel fashion has in society? Beyond just wearing pretty clothing, why is it important?

We know that fashion has been important since the beginning, you weren’t allowed to wear certain colors, restrictions and other funny rules. It’s a signifier of personality, creativity, and of wealth. There are so many things one can use to express themselves with fashion.

What do you consider your role in the fashion industry? Do you think of yourself as anything other then a successful fashion and lifestyle designer?

I want it to see as a company evolved and will be respected as a family brand and known as someone who paid attention to value and crafts/workman ship. It’s about that idea of being proud of your craft and legacy.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment thus far?

Well besides my daughter Violet, just the fact that I’ve done runway shows – I was terrified to forever! I was in business for 10 years before I did a runway show. I remember wearing a little black knit skirt and cardigan for the final walk. When I carried Violet she wore a little bonnet from eastern Europe and a little fur shearling vest. She had a better outfit than me!