After spending several years working at the corporate side of Levi's and Lucky Brand and co-founding a now defunct men’s line, Oliver Rayn, Los Angeles-based designer Piper Gore has launched a namesake contemporary line of casual separates and dresses. The line, which made its official debut in Fall 2012, brims with covetable finds ranging from leather harem pants and white-stripe accented floral pants to off-the-shoulder loose tops and bright maxi dresses. We spoke with Gore about her new brand and some of the challenges she faces as a young designer.
The Fashion Spot: You managed to be successfully without any formal training. Do you regret not studying fashion design in school or do you find that on-the-job is the best way to go?
Piper Gore: I would never say I regret it mostly because I really like where I am. I loved the experience I had in school as well as my work experience afterwards. I'm sure things would have been easier with formal training, but there are always a lot of what-ifs in life and that's a road I just try to steer clear of taking.
tFS: What were some of the most important lessons you learned from working at Lucky Brand and Levi’s and then as the co-founder of Oliver Rayn?
PG: Trust your instincts. Sometimes just knowing something is enough — you don't always have to know why. Also scheduling; I'm still not good at it, but it's a key skill to learn.
tFS: Piper Gore just launched about a year ago. When did the idea for the brand first come about?
PG: It's something I've wanted to do for a long time. I've always had it in my periphery and then when time was right, things just came together.
tFS: What have been some of the biggest challenges in your first year of business?
PG: Oh, where to begin… there are so many! Everything is a challenge, but as long as you like challenges and are excited by them, you'll be OK. That's not to say there aren't days where all I can do is have a glass of wine at lunch, but have a good sense of humor, keep smiling, and keep going. And for the really tough days, I look at a Winston Churchill quote I have on my laptop screen that says, "When you're going through hell, keep going."
tFS: You're based in LA — what are the benefits and drawbacks? Could you ever see yourself anywhere else?
PG: L.A. is great. I've lived here for over a decade and love it. I do all my production here so it's easy to be really hands on. I do, however, spend a ton of time in New York and love it there as well. I could just as easily base myself out of there… then again, I could also see myself living on a Greek Island, but I don't suppose that would be so good for business.
tFS: Even though you just launched, you're in a number of stores across the country. What are some of the biggest challenges in getting buyers to look your way and how have you managed to overcome them?
PG: Being new makes it hard to get people to take risks with you, but then you find people who are excited by that. Being a risk-taker is a big part of being an entrepreneur, so finding those buyers who will go on the ride with you and build a working partnership with you is crucial. You can't take no for an answer and have to always think outside of the box.
tFS: Your brand is very focused on comfort. How do you go about making sure the fit is just right so it's both stylish and comfortable?
PG: Well, that's the key! It's easy to have style without comfort and comfort without style, but that's not my goal. I'm not married to any design or fabric unless it works, so I'm constantly editing.
tFS: What's one thing you know now that you wished you had known before setting out to start your own brand?
PG: Don't buy into the highs or lows. Learn from them, but don't stay too long in either place.