Q&A: Lauren Gabrielson of Lauren G
Fashion is always reinventing itself. There is no end to the combinations of cuts, colors, trims, angles, hemlines, and necklines that a design mind can come up with, and it’s always preposterously brilliant when one comes up with a new mélange, as if it hadn’t been thought of before. Enter Lauren Gabrielson.
The Michigan native and recent graduate of Michigan State University made her way to New York two years ago and hasn’t looked back ever since—especially after garnering a position as the assistant to Ginny Hilfiger—yes, sister of Tommy. Ever since she was a little girl, she had wanted to make clothes, and now, with her first boutique, Lauren G, she has. Gabrielson set up shop in the charming town of Sag Harbor in the Hamptons and with racks full of clothes, in-store parties, a signature website, and bigger plans ahead of her, she is forging ahead to a very successful career, even at the tender age of 23.
LadyLUX: Because everyone always wants to know, how did you get interested in fashion?
Lauren Gabrielson: When I was younger I spent lot of time at my grandmother’s house. She had a back room that she used just for arts and crafts and there we would whip up pieces from the arts and crafts store—not always fashion or clothes, but always something creative. My grandmother was really talented: she made all of our Halloween costumes, and even made my aunt’s wedding dress. I didn’t know it at the time but she influenced me immensely.
LL: When did you know that you needed to do this for a living?
LG: After my first year in the design program at Michigan State University—where I went to study apparel and textile design—I realized that this was what I wanted to do. I graduated one year early even by taking a full summer, as well as a few 21- and 22-credit semesters.
LL: And, how, pray tell, does one land a position with one of the biggest names in fashion?
LG: Before I moved to New York, I got in contact with a family friend, Victoria, who was the vice president of design for women’s woven’s at Express; Victoria had worked at Tommy Hilfiger with Ginny. I graduated in 2008 when no one was hiring so I knew it was going to be tough. Victoria threw out that maybe I could do freelance at Express, but also gave me Ginny’s contact info. It turned out that she needed an assistant, and I was in!
LL: She has a reputation for being a super nice person, and is obviously very, very talented. Must run in the family.
LG: Ginny is great and we have a really good relationship. She gives me lots of support and guidance. She is so easy to talk to and so down-to-earth, always knows what she wants. She also allows me access to the Ginny H patterns. If I want to make tunics, for example, in every size, I can do that; I just take on the production and material costs and can do it. She and I are always thinking the same way, it was a symbiotic relationship from the start, I would do things that needed to get done and she didn’t have to tell me. After a while, I just knew the process.
LL: Where do you produce your clothes?
LG: In New York City’s garment district. We have a really great relationship with the factory; it’s very close knit all around. In fact, our company name has a subtitle, “Made in Manhattan.
We pride ourselves on being very eco-friendly, with good quality and good service. These factors make it kind of pay for itself. I think we hit the price point right on too—it’s not too high, not too low, moderate prices for things that you’ll have forever.
LL: Describe your style for me.
LG: It’s modeled after vintage lingerie—I call it lingerie during the day. I’ve always wanted to design a line of lingerie/sleepwear, and thought there was definitely a market for it. The dresses in my line this season are beautiful crinkled chiffon dresses that include a soft cotton jersey slip to wear underneath. The outer dress is trimmed in 100 percent silk floral lace. It can be worn together or separate creating multiple looks. These are pieces that will not go out of style, things that are up to date, lots of interesting detail. They are very feminine, sexy for a woman’s body.
LL: Are these clothes you like to wear yourself?
LG: I like to wear my pieces to see how people react. The other day I was wearing one of my pieces when my fiancé and I were walking down the street, and we heard two people say, “I really like that dress!” When it’s something you created and people like it, it’s a bigger compliment.
LL: What other lines do you carry in your store?
LG: I carry GinnyH, Ginny Hilfiger’s line, and Bikini Thief, a line of great two-piece swimsuits.
LL: What has been the response to your Hamptons store so far this summer?
LG: We are halfway into the second month. In the beginning, we did pretty well, friends and family came in and rallied to our side. Week 2 was a little slow, but this week has been great.
LL: Who is your customer?
LG: We’re uptown meets downtown. Ginny H is definitely uptown. We’re a little younger, a little more downtown.
LL: Have you always wanted your own store?
LG: Funny enough, I never really wanted my own store, but as time went on, it sort of all fell into place. This was the perfect opportunity. I talked to my fiancé, we pulled together enough family and friends to get the store up and running, and started going out on weekends to research. Finding the right space was a challenge; we initially looked in East Hampton but the rent was out of sight, so we looked in Sag Harbor. I had never been to Sag Harbor before, and I thought, ‘Oh this is so cute!’
LL: With Gucci, Catherine Malandrino, Calypso, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Cynthia Rowley in and around town—not to mention all of the small town entrepreneurs, how do you get the word out? That’s a lot of competition to contend with.
LG: We use a lot of social media, which is helping, as does a good amount of word of mouth. It really has been great. Also being situated on Route 114—is good since it’s the shortcut from Sag Harbor to East Hampton. It’s a highly visible spot. We get people from East Hampton who normally might not stop by.
LL: Is it something you’d like to continue once summer ends?
LG: If this goes really well, we would definitely like to have a boutique in the city. Long term plans for me is to build my brand, my own line. Having this helps me test out my new styles. I just hung a sample on the rack last week and already have two orders for it. I can see what sells and what doesn’t.