Tell us more about yourself and your background.
I grew up in a pretty traditional American home in the suburbs of Jersey. I’ve always been a lover of animals and all things pink, but with so many secrets & dark thoughts. I lost my father to addiction when I was eleven and ever since have sought some sort of personal vengeance on like…. “life” or the world... There aren’t many memories I have from before his death. We moved a lot through high school and college but never had the pleasure to actually get out of this fucking town I grew up in. I studied textiles at the Savannah College of Art and Design which was fun and cool but really expensive. I am reminded of my student loans daily and send all my anxieties to voicemail! After graduation, I moved home, and we lost my twin brother, also to addiction - I’ve since thought that was the reason I had stayed in Jersey for a whole nother (miserable) year. A lot of the art I make has to do with loss of loved ones - both eternal and improvised or temporary.
Who or what influences you in your career path?
I loveeeed tweety bird! My first muse was Mary-Kate Olsen’s character (Roxy) in New York Minute. I remember watching that movie every day for almost a year. She was the laid-back rebel who I wanted to grow up to become. Also, Janine Antoni will forever be someone who has encouraged the sustainability and perseverance of my craft.
I have always been inspired by anything femme, niche, or votive. There is this amazing antique shop in New Hope, PA called “The Creeper Gallery” which really inspires me - everything is so unique and made with such love - it’s a really charming yet thrilling experience. Working with second hand materials is very important to me. Now, everyday my friends and so many strangers influence each piece I make.
What was the starting point and inspiration behind your brand Only Friend?
Honestly I graduated from college and just had so much time at home. I didn’t have a full time job - nor was I applying to or seeking employment opportunities - and if I did, it sure as hell had no industry relation. I taught myself simple sewing as a kid and practiced the techniques I knew throughout college. My best friend and designer of Left Hand LA, Julie Kucharski, taught me everything I needed to know about the art of Goodwill and thrifting. I took that knowledge and ran - recognizing at the same time how important it is to reuse and recycle our waste. I love turning easy everyday clothing into cheeky statement pieces that humor both the wearer and the reader.
How would you describe the aesthetic of Only Friend?
I would describe the aesthetic as ever-changing, noisy and vulnerable. The garments I create scream empathy - on purpose lmao.
How do you see your brand and career evolve in the future?
I want my brand to evolve as a mode of fashion for everyone! I really don’t even want to make money off of this shit! I just want all my friends wearing it .
Images courtesy of KAILEE HAEGNEY
interview DAGMARA SZARLATA
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