Fashion Designer Kate Fisher fleshes out her ethical approach to life in every aspect of her company, Synergy Organic Clothing. She pays fair wages and employs women in Nepal to hand-stitch the applique on her garments that are sold at popular online fashion retail outlets like Shopruche.com and Modcloth.com. The textiles she uses in her extensive line of clothing are all organic, and her cotton is processed using low-impact dyes from India. Likewise, the headquarters for her international company, based in Santa Cruz, Calif., boast a family vibe and have a local focus. Fisher is one of the few "green"designers out there who is genuinely practicing what she preaches. As one of the most influential fashion industry veterans in Santa Cruz, we wanted to catch up with this designer, learn more about what makes her tick, and get some fashion and beauty tips from her.
What first got you into this business?
I travelled to India and Nepal in 1993 when I was 21 and bought some textiles and handicrafts which I sent back to the United States to be sold at Grateful Dead shows. That soon transformed into me designing my own clothing that I had constructed in India and Nepal. We now have our entire Synergy line made in Nepal.
What's the aesthetic of the Synergy brand?
We are a blend of casual, easy-to-wear, and bohemian, and our clothing exudes an organic lifestyle with a nod to the classic woman who never goes out of style.
Photo by Nick Chao for Synergy Fall 2013
What's the message or philosophy of Synergy?
We want people to enjoy wearing our clothing and to feel good about the way our clothing is made and the people behind the brand. We try to maintain integrity and consciousness in every facet of our business, from the way we manufacture our clothing to every small or large business decision we make.
What's your favorite item from the Spring 13 line and the upcoming Fall 13 line?
My favorites from Spring 13 are the Tank Panelled Dress, The Sleeveless Bella Dress, and the Layla Dress. (I tend to lean heavily toward dresses in spring.) For Fall 13, my favorites are the Organic Fleece Moto Jacket and Cape, and the Turtleneck Dress made from a bamboo organic cotton blend.
Photo/design by Nick Chao for Synergy Fall 2013
How would you describe your personal style?
Urban bohemian with a classic twist.
What’s your favorite brand of denim?
Rag and Bone, and Joe's.
What other fashion designer are you eyeing right now?
I really like Rachel Comey and Isabel Marant. I am always interested in what Tom Ford puts out and I pay attention to Alexander Wang as he has a very current point of view.
What's your fashion and beauty philosophy?
Be comfortable (yet pulled together) and wear what makes you feel good and highlights your best features. I like pretty, but subtle, eye-catching jewelry and accessories to help pull an outfit together, and I like wearing comfortable yet chic shoes. I like adding unique pieces into my wardrobe and I avoid generic looking corporate labels and looks that have a mall type of sensibility. I am a natural girl when it comes to makeup. I usually do not wear any makeup by day and I wear minimal makeup when going out at night.
What fashion tip would you give to someone for the upcoming summer and fall seasons?
For summer, I always think you can't go wrong with a feminine dress that can transition from day to night. For fall, I tend to gravitate towards tops in eye-catching colors that can be layered and worn with jeans and other pants. I like to have a cozy yet stylish jacket, and I am a big believer in having a good pair of boots for fall and winter.
You travel a lot for your work with Synergy. What are your must-have beauty or fashion items that you bring with you?
I can't live without my Cosmedix cleanser, Dr. Hauschka Quince Day Cream, and Alba Kukui Nut Body Cream. When I travel, I always keep a nice pashmina shawl with me, which is perfect on the plane and accessorizes an outfit; a comfortable but stylish pair of shoes, and a top that can be dressed up or down.
Heels, flats, or boots?