spotlight . . . the podolls

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We’ve been a bit obssessed with The Podolls clothing line for quite some time and are thrilled to have had the opportunity to interview this talented husband and wife design duo. Read on–you’ll see that Lauren and Josh Podoll are every bit as cool as the clothing they design . . .

 

{all photography: JACK ALICE PHOTOGRAPHS}

 

 

 

Please tell us how your superb line, The Podolls, was born.

 

Lauren: Our story began when we met back in 2003–I was working as a buyer at ab fits here in San Francisco and Josh was silk screening t-shirts with his drawings. I bought some for the store and about six months later we had our first date, during which we began sharing design ideas.  As our relationship progressed, so did the t-shirt endeavor and soon we were collaborating on woven shirts, skirts, and blazers. I loved buying, but I had secretly always dreamed of being on the other side and designing as opposed to curating. However, I’m much more risk adverse so I hadn’t considered living life as an independent designer until I met Josh and realized we could take on the exciting challenge together. Since neither of us had specific training in fashion design, we made some early mistakes–like choosing unbelievably expensive textiles or working with inexperienced sewers–but eventually we found our way.  By 2007 or 2008, we feel our collection really began to reflect our lifestyle and we had a much clearer perspective on our aesthetic goals and business objectives. From the beginning, we have been committed to domestic production, eco-friendly fibers, and designing with a sense of ease.  Our clothes don’t have logos or embellishment–they aren’t contrived.  We try to understand the fabric and allow it to become what it wants to be.

 

 

Working side-by-side with your spouse must be incredibly satisfying but also challenging in its own right . . . what’s the trick to keeping both sides (business & personal) of your relationship balanced?

 

Josh: Patience, respect, and communication are the first three words that come to mind. It’s important to keep lines of communication open and not hide what you feel or think. I’m working on taking constructive feedback and not letting my pride or ego get in the way–and I think I’ve become way better at it.

Lauren: And I’m working on giving more praise and softening my bossy, controlling side! I’ve often described us as happily co-dependent, or I guess you could say interdependent. There aren’t many people I could work with and live with but Josh; it just feels natural. Another important key is protecting our ‘off-hours’ and trying not to discuss our business after a certain time of night. 

 

This is a huge question . . . but we are dying to know what the design process looks like.  Could you tell us how a concept begins and eventually comes to fruition?

 

Josh: A good example is how we started with our Spring 2013 collection. Lauren found an image in a food magazine that inspired her and we used it to start brainstorming about color, texture, and feeling for the season.

Lauren: The image is a bird’s eye view of a beautiful table set with flowers and a feast of foods from various cultures.  I was drawn to the mix of themes and how bright and inviting it looked.  From there we chose our textiles, designed two exclusive prints for the season, and began making sketches for garments.  Our prints always begin with our own drawings or watercolors and we translate them into repeats to print on sand washed silk.

 

 

 

What do you consider to be the most difficult part of the design process?

 

Josh: Getting the fit just right is the toughest.  We have several meetings with our patternmaker as we develop our styles each season, and we work to refine the samples so they reflect our vision and flatter the wearer.  Sometimes even the tiniest changes can make a big difference, so it’s a tedious and critical stage of the design process.

 

What do you draw inspiration from and how is it reflected in your clothing?

 

Lauren: Just keeping our eyes open. Seriously. You never know when you’ll come across some image or sight that triggers an idea.  Sometimes being truly open is harder than it sounds–for me, I’m at my best when I’m traveling to new places, getting adequate rest, and taking time to reflect. I also get inspired to create garments that I personally want to have in my wardrobe.  If I find a need that hasn’t been met, I get excited to create.

 

 

 

Who or what embodies style to you?

 

Josh: People who dress effortlessly as an extension of who they are. Style is an aura, not something specific that you wear.

 

What are you most proud of as a company?

Lauren:  We’re very proud that we have always manufactured our collection in the USA.

Josh: And that we’re still in business after all these years!

 

What is it that you hope people take away from wearing your clothing, and why do you consider it important?

 

Lauren: Ease, confidence, and joy. Dressing should be fun and what you wear should make you feel good. We aim to make clothing that enables the wearer to shine. When that happens, we all look good.

 

What are some other things you’d like our readers to know?

 

We would love to open our own store one day. The idea of showing our whole collection in one location and contextualizing it as we wish is very compelling. We would also like to connect more directly with our fans–something that we don’t have the opportunity to do very often as wholesalers.

 

 

As far as life outside of The Podolls, we can be found playing with our one-year-old son Dashiell . . . he truly is the embodiment of joy. In addition, Lauren practices and teaches yoga and Josh is completely obsessed with surfing.