Claire Campbell Moseley is looking to revive the art of the pocket square–and introduce them to a whole new demographic: women. The designer started her brand after a meeting with President Barack Obama ended with him complimenting her pocket square (not a bad sign to pursue your passion!). Her line, O'Harrow Clothiers, uses imported Japanese fabrics sewn in the USA for all its products–which now also include button-down shirts–and Moseley has reduced the size of her squares to 9" x 9" to better fit in women's jacket and shirt pockets. We spoke to the designer to find out more about how she got her brand off the ground and how exactly women should wear pocket squares.
theFashionSpot: Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Claire Campbell Moseley: I'm originally from St. Louis, MO. After High School, I moved straight to New York City to attended the School of Visual Arts, majoring in photography. I then interned at Teen Vogue my senior year of college and decided I really wanted to pursue a career in fashion. That internship lead to my job at GQ where I really learned a tremendous amount about men’s fashion. The boys there are the best at what they do and I will forever be honored to have worked for such a talented group. I then moved over to Calvin Klein advertising. I learned a lot about what it means to be a “brand,” which really opened my eyes to perhaps starting one of my own one day. In 2012, I moved out to LA and began really exploring the idea of creating my own line.
tFS: Can you elaborate a bit more about the point where you thought about starting your own line and can you tell us a little bit about the first steps?
CCM: Once in LA, I saw that it was really possible to make goods in the USA. I was always so intimidated by using factories and producing goods oversees. I wanted to be hands-on, so I started taking sewing classes and making the pocket squares. I went through a lot of fabric and made a lot of bad pocket squares those first few months! I then started looking at designing button-downs. Anyone who knows me knows that I always wear button-downs and I often was buying ones from the little boys' section because the women's were filled with darts and mock sleeves. I set out to create a line of squares and button-downs made for both women and men, while maintaining a feminine and masculine appeal. Women and men have very different bodies and what I found was that all of the shirts being made for women in the whole "boyfriend" style were oversized and/or unflattering. Our button-downs have the buttons spaced a little differently so that you can have it buttoned low and still leave something to the imagination. The shirts are longer, but not too long that you can't wear them untucked. Also, the fit is loose yet tailored. We combined all the elements of a "men's" shirt but considered all the things that make it fit a woman.
tFS: Where did the name come from?
CCM: It's actually my wife’s maiden name; she always complained about the apostrophe being so annoying when confirming reservations. I loved it and thought it was so unique the way it looked when it was written down. I wanted to use something personal yet not my own.
tFS: What do you find so intriguing about the pocket square and what makes yours unique?
CCM: The pocket square to me is the perfect accessory; it is something that can really show your personality and you can have a collection of them. I guess they are the male version of a purse and as a girl who does not own a purse, pocket squares became my go-to in adding a flair to my otherwise basic outfits. There are a few things that set O’Harrow squares apart from the rest. First would be the size–we reduced the size of the square to 9” x 9” rather then the traditional 12” x 12”. There is really no need for all of that fabric when you're trying to fit it in a 4” x 4” pocket. Second, we import our fabrics from Japan, yielding unconventional textures and patterns of fabric. I was tired of seeing the same style of square over and over. I wanted to make pocket squares that popped when you wore them. We also make basic squares, but I love the fact that our squares are like little pieces of artwork; they feel just as good as they look and they are a surprise, like the Red Bunny Hop. The idea of using that fabric to make a pocket square out of seems crazy, but once it's folded, it makes sense.
tFS: Any tips for men and women to wear/pick pocket squares?
CMM: First off, learn how to fold a square. So many people tell me, “I love pocket squares, but I don’t know how to fold one.” We have a simple diagram on our site that lays out exactly how to fold a square, so learn it and then you will have the confidence to wear one. For the girls, I always recommend to start wearing one in you blue blazer or denim jacket. It provides a nice pop of color. I also tell girls to try wearing one in the back pocket of jeans or jean shorts — it's fun and you're bound to turn a few heads. As for the boys, I say keep it light. Don’t try and match your whole outfit and it's OK to wear a little color once in a while. Our indigos and silks are super popular with the boys, they can wear them in blazers and jean jackets. My biggest recommendation is to let the square shine, you don't need to wear much else when you have a great pocket square popping out.
tFS: You lived in a few different cities including NYC and LA—do you think it's easier to start a fashion brand in one versus the other?
CCM: My heart will always be in NYC, but LA has provided me with the space and the piece of mind that I just couldn’t get in NYC. My studio is my back house converted into a workspace which was really the start of it all, having a space where I could leave a project undone and really see all that I wanted to create hanging on walls, and not feeling like I was living in clutter made the creative side of me flourish. O’Harrow will always be a mixture of New York City and LA. I love New York style in the way that you wear a uniform. People there really stick to wearing the clothes that they love and keep one style consistent. Whereas in LA, people tend to embody several styles, maybe because the weather never changes so you have to keep it interesting. I really like mixing styles in the sense of wearing a pastel button-down and a leather jacket, and that is where I see O’Harrow going. We want to be a combination of American classics and the British rocker feel.
tFS: You just launched a Hamptons-inspired collection. How did that come about? Where do you find your inspiration?
CCM: The Hampton Collection came about last year on a trip to the Hamptons. I love the timeless feel that the Hamptons embodies, American's finest. Naming our squares is always something I have fun doing and while I was there, I thought, "How perfect it would be to name squares after each of the areas of the Hamptons?" I really tried to capture the feel of each area in the patterns.
tFS: Can you tell us a little bit about what is to come?
CCM: Spring 2015 is going to be a big season for us, we are launching 15 new fabrics options and two new body styles of button-downs. We have learned a lot in the process of doing the shirts. We are keeping it simple, focused on the fit and details that make a shirt your favorite shirt. We are steering clear of trends and bringing back basic button-downs, with great fabrics, clean details and most importantly, a great fit. Our fabrics in this next round will be imported Japanese (chambray, denims and cottons), as well as a lot of England imports of oxfords and tartans. I have spent the past few months sourcing fabrics and I think we will be bringing a new kind of preppy-meets-NYC vibe to the mix.