Indie Interview – Amanda Archer

Amanda Archer Silk-Isabella-top.jpgAmanda Archer Silk-sophia-top.jpg

San Francisco’s Amanda Archer is one of the few local designers I’ve asked to design custom garments. I first met her at a Chillin’ Productions event several years ago. A friend and I stumbled upon her racks at the show and ended up asking her to create a bridesmaid dress for my friend to wear at my wedding. Several months later, she created a tweed coat for me by essentially reproducing a vintage coat I bought in a Las Vegas thrift store. It’s one of my favorite pieces in my closet.

On Saturday, Amanda will be back at Chillin’ for the ninth anniversary event (check out SF Indie Fashion’s indie interview with Chillin’ Productions founder and president Irene Hernandez-Feiks from earlier this week to learn more about this stellar event).

I particularly like Amanda’s designs because they incorporate femininity, practicality and a hint of vintage flare into wearable, current-looking garments like the silk tops shown above.

She’ll be showing these tops, as well as selections from her signature collections, at the show this weekend at significantly reduced prices. Make sure to check her out.

Below, Amanda was kind enough to answer a few of our most pressing questions:

Vital stats (name, label/company, city, years as a designer):

Amanda Archer is based out of San Francisco. I’ve been designing my signature collection for over two years.

What’s the most challenging aspect of pursuing a fashion career in the Bay Area?

It’s slim pickings job wise. There is just so much more opportunities in NY or LA.

I know you spend a great deal of your free time designing and sewing custom garments and that the process is very time-consuming. As an artist, what drives you? What compels you to keep designing?

I ask myself that question a lot. It’s not something I can exactly pinpoint. I just have this inner drive and love of what I do: picking out fabric, finding inspiration and designing, patternmaking, sewing and creating special garments for people. It’s so rewarding to see someone bring to life my sketch, going from 2D to 3D. Garments are meant to be worn, so I strive to create pieces that are wearable and creative.

I always think it’s interesting to find out how important fashion is to designers on a day-to-day basis. Are you a big fashion consumer? Or do you prefer to concentrate on creating? Any thoughts?

Great question, it changes daily. I love to be fashionable and am very conscience of what’s out there. I buy clothing from all different sources (SF is a fabulous shopping destination!). I especially love to buy from other local designers and I go to as many trunk shows as possible. At the same time, if I concentrate too much on myself, I lose some creative energy. Some days I need to dress plainly and focus on my work and designing for other people.

Your fashion icons:

I love history, so I would have to say Charles Worth is very inspirational to me. When I was very young I remember reading about his life and was fascinated by that time period. Also Elsa Schiaparelli, I love the humor she brought to fashion. I’m also a fan of Salvador Dali and the surrealist movement, which Schiaparelli was involved in.

Day job?

I’m a designer for Lily Samii Collection as well as the production manager and head patternmaker.

What advice would you give an aspiring Bay Area fashion designer?

Don’t do it for the money. Get in this industry because you have no other choice but to love what you do.

Tell us about your latest or most recent collection, Something Blue:

This collection which will debut this August and September is geared for Spring 2008. It is inspired by the changes in the sky: clouds, fog, clear blue skies, midnight stars…. The collection is made up of cotton spring/summer coats, dresses, lots of separates and has a touch of bridal because I’m getting married soon.

Which of your collections will be represented at the upcoming Chillin’ event?

I will be showing select samples from ‘Wine and Roses’ and ‘Premier’ to represent my custom work. I will also be selling some fun, easy to wear silk tops that are perfect for an evening out on the town this summer!

How many shows do you participate in each year?

2-3, for now. My signature collection is part time because I work in the industry full time.

How important are runway shows, trunk shows, shopping fairs, etc. to your business?

Very important. It’s really one of the only ways I can represent my own collection and meet customers face to face.

What sewing machine(s) do you use?

I use an industrial Juki single needle and an industrial overlock.

What are some of your favorite sources for fabrics and notions?

I love attending the LA and SF fabric shows. They have fabric venders from all over the world at these shows.

If you were a fabric, what would you be?

What a fun question! In fall, I would be a wool, grey and dusty rose jacquard. Winter, I would be a soft grey, cashmere felt. Spring, iridescent blue silk chiffon. Summer, an embroidered organic cotton with a vintage 1920’s cotton lace trim.

If you could sell or display your designs anywhere in the world, what location would you choose?

Fred Segal, LA

What else is on the horizon for you in 2007?

I will be debuting ‘Something Blue’ at a fashion show and trunk sale September 14, in Santa Cruz.