While in NYC this spring, I stopped by the design studio of Svilu in the Garment District. If you haven't yet heard of Svilu, I am beyond excited to introduce them to you! A fresh breath of sophistication and substance- this brand is just what the eco fashion industry needed. The clothes are so beautiful and well made they often feel to me like clothes I 'have to earn' or grow into like a Celine suit or Hermes bag.
The styles are so simple, yet design rich. Both the style and attitude of the brand were something I immediately responded to. Then, I met the designing duo behind the label and my love of Svilu was sealed! Marina Polo and Britt Cosgrove welcomed me into their studio, and their design backgrounds were apparent. They're meticulously organized shelves, and beautifully displayed current collection, with a few mood board tear sheets hinting at things to come, all felt a familiar and important part of any designer's work.
Not only are their design standards demonstratively high, they have a built-in commitment to fair production and sourcing organic and sustainable fabrics. Read our interview below for greater insight into this brand we should all keep on our 'ones to watch' list.
1. Where does SVILU (the name and the brand concept) come from?
Both Britt and I are of Italian Ancestry and the word Sviluppo in Italian means development. We liked the sentiment behind it and decided to shorten the word to SVILU.
2. What was your inspiration for the current collection?
Spring 14 is a play on contrasts. The collection focuses on the juxtaposition of the man-made and the natural, the linear and the soft. We drew inspiration from Agnes Martin’s grid-like paintings in barely there colors, and worked in a palette of blush pink, dove grey and white set against pops of forest green, marigold and electric blue. Martins’ grid is referenced throughout the collection, from a sartorial double-breasted short suit in an organic cotton-linen to soft tonal plaid knits and dove grey featherweight striped shirts. For our print we played with negative space, tossing decorative 18th century botanical motifs against a grid of white silk jacquard. We also turned American sportswear classics on their head, updating the hooded windbreaker in a luxe floral eyelet. The traditional jean jacket was re-imagined in forest green denim and the sweatshirt given a makeover in a patchwork of repurposed sweatshirts.
3. How did you two form your partnership (include brief past bios about your backgrounds)?
Born in New York and raised in Paris, Marina Polo attended Central Saint Martins College of Art in London. While at university Marina apprenticed at Lesage in Paris, Vera Wang and menswear label Cloak in New York. Upon graduation she relocated to New York and was recruited by fashion house Peter Som. She served as design director there until 2012.
Britt Cosgrove grew up in Hunting Valley, Ohio and upon graduation from Middlebury College moved to New York City where she began her career in Public Relations. Working for Prada and then Hogan in their VIP relations department she transitioned from PR to design and received a degree from Parsons School of Design. After completing her studies she worked under Peter Som on the Tommy Hilfiger runway collections.
Both Britt and I practice sustainability in our daily lives. It is 2nd nature to recycle, eat organic/locally and conserve where possible. SVILU is an extension of these choices. We wanted to offer women beautiful, effortless staples that were made in a mindful way.
4. Aside from the work that you do, what do you both value in your lives?
As summer approaches we try to get out of the city on weekends to recharge and spend time with family with trips to Nantucket or Upstate New York.
5. What are you reading or listening to now?
James Blake- perfect chill music to design to.