Born and raised in New York, Susan Woo’s line of modern ready-to-wear day and evening fashions are fittingly city-inspired. After receiving a BS degree in Fashion Design and Business from Cornell University, Woo honed her skills at Louis Vuitton, Derek Lam, and Chanel, before branching out on her own.
Fusing all that she learned from those luxury companies with her own eco-minded design philosophy, Woo has managed to carve out an ever-growing following for her brand. All of the fabrics used in the designer’s namesake line are 100% all-natural and sustainable (including organic wool, cottons, and cashmeres) are sourced from companies that have a strong environmental commitment, and extra steps are taken to ensure that her everyday operations are environmentally conscious and as energy-efficient as possible.
tFs spoke to Woo about her commitment to the environment, fashion must-haves, and more…
tFS: How would you describe your design aesthetic?
Susan Woo: Clean and modern. A feminine approach mixed with masculine influences. I tend to create lean silhouettes because I’m not a fan of anything too girly or frilly, and love clothes that celebrate and highlight a woman’s body.
tFS: Did you always know you wanted to get into fashion?
SW: I always wanted to work in fashion from a very young age, but when I got to college, I started out as an economics major. Maybe it was out of fear, because I knew how tough the industry was. I soon realized that passions are the only thing worth pursuing, so I switched schools and studied fashion.
tFS: What do you think are some of the essential skills you need to start your own fashion label?
SW: Perseverance. There are so many challenges and obstacles, but each time you face something difficult, you have to push yourself forward and ahead.
tFS: How essential is being based in NYC to your business (from a social/inspiration stand-point)?
SW: I wanted to start my company here because I grew up in New York, and it’s where I fell in love with the mixture of cultures, styles and ideas. It is also where the heart of the industry is, and it’s the ideal place to meet and show the collection to buyers and editors from all over the world. For any young company, it’s essential to have access to that.
tFS: What kind of woman do you have in mind when you’re designing?
SW: I love that modern women can be so dynamic. The woman I design for is intelligent, confident and fearless, but also feminine and vulnerable.
tFS: What made you decide to start an eco-conscious label?
SW: When I started my line, I knew I wanted the collection to be more than just what I believe in aesthetically. The environment and social responsibility are so important to me, and I didn’t think there was a fashion brand out there that addressed those issues in a way that was modern and chic.
I also think we’re moving towards a new type of “conscious consumerism.” People are really interested in the background and history of the things they buy – where they come from, and how they are made.
tFS: Favorite fabrics to work with?
SW: I love working with cotton (preferably organic). It’s probably the most versatile fabric available, because it comes in so many variations and price points – from a simple t-shirt to a cocktail dress. It was also one of the first fabrics to be offered in an organic option.
tFS: Dream celeb client?
SW: Oprah. She’s a rebel and a trailblazer for real women!
tFS: Favorite brands other than your own?
SW: Lanvin, Roland Mouret.
tFS: What are five fashion essentials you think every woman should own?
SW: A great fitting blazer (preferably in an all-year round weight, like tropical wool), a pair of dark wash jeans, the perfect LBD (little black dress), sky-high heels, and for a little indulgence, a quilted Chanel bag.
Images courtesy of Susan Woo.