July 20th, 2006
Whether you’re a workout fan or whether you prefer to merely appear as if you break a sweat every now and then, Omiru has a treat for you. Erebelle, a fitness inspired casualwear line, features stylish and artsy looks for women that work equally well at the gym as on the town. Not only can you glide effortlessly from errands to Yoga practice in Erebelle gear, but you can also support up-and-coming artists as you do so, as each of Erebelle’s five collections per year is inspired by the work of a rising star in the art world. Omiru caught up with Erebelle designer Tina Schweiger to dish about the intersection of art and entrepreneurship, why she chose to design workout clothes, and what we can expect next.
O: How and when did your interest in fashion design start?
T: My interest in fashion design started in a roundabout sort of way. It wasn’t like I woke up one day and decided to create a line of clothing, especially since I’m not a fashion designer. Instead, it was an evolution of an idea whose best expression happened to be fashion design. This was close to two years ago.
O: Why did you choose to focus on workout clothing?
T: Two reasons – The first was to capitalize on the emerging “crossover” market of clothing that is both for working out in and living in. The second reason was simply because it’s my favorite type of clothing since I’m always either doing Yoga or swimming or walking.
O: What makes your collection unique?
T: We have found a non-tacky way to integrate artwork into the clothing. We have allowed the artwork to inspire the color story for the season. We’ve reproduced the artwork in a way that retains the true integrity of the work and yet does not overpower the clothing. It’s like you get an original work of art with your clothing purchase.
O: Each of your pieces incorporates the work of an emerging artist. Were you always interested in art?
T: I have been an artist since I could pick up a crayon. With Erebelle, I have decided to implement the work of artists into the clothing. This provides an “alternative gallery space” for artists’ work. In addition, it gives artists the opportunity to understand more about business transactions and broaden the horizons of possibilities beyond gallery walls. At Erebelle, I strive to create opportunities for artists by accepting artwork submissions from unknown artists and integrating them into a season of Erebelle clothing.
O: How do you choose artists to feature?
T: Artists are invited to submit work through the website. We are actively pursuing outlets to publicize this opportunity through media generated with the help of our PR firm. Once we receive a submission from an artist, it is screened immediately. If the artwork suits the style of Erebelle, it is placed in a finalist file. We review the finalist file and select artwork for a new season during our design phase. If an artist’s work is a finalist and does not get selected for the immediate season, it might be selected for a subsequent season. We feature a new artist five times a year.
O: What are you inspired by?
T: I am inspired by the space where definitions intersect. That is the space where the new and fresh is created. In this venture, I’m inspired about where the definition of “artist” intersects with “entrepreneur.” How do I define myself as both, and how do I define the artists I work with?
As an artist, I have struggled with endless questions about art: do I hang this in a gallery? Do I reproduce it for sale? Do I sell my talent as a service? How do I sell this? The evolution of an artist to an entrepreneurial artist happens when the artist who wants to make a living is forced to also figure out how to be a businesswoman. This is a very big challenge for many creatives. Business is taught to us in school from the standpoint of numbers, statistics, money and rules. All of these things can be intimidating for the creative thinker.
As an artist, I think in concepts, pictures–NOT in a linear fashion. As a business woman, I have learned that creative thought is much more instrumental to business than our current education system teaches. Creative, visual thinkers are able to grasp a “big picture” perspective on business much more quickly, solve problems faster and are generally more resourceful in unconventional ways. These are amazing skills to have in business.
O: What’s your design philosophy?
T: I follow the rules for creating timeless and lasting designs rather than following trends. While this tends to produce a more conservative result, it also provides one with the foundation pieces in a wardrobe that can transition from one trend to the next.
O: How did you go about selling your collection in stores?
T: We hired an in-house sales rep who hit the road with samples. Luckily, there were a selection of stores who bought into the Erebelle concept. And day by day, that list of stores is growing.
O: If you were to design a new product line to add to your current business, what would it be and describe?
T: We are considering launching a line of contemporary knitwear for women, called YellowfinTina.
O: Some may argue workout clothes should only be worn during exercising. What would you say to those people?
T: I would say that they do not share my inspiration by the intersections between definitions. We are looking to create clothing that works for a workout, or out-and-about. This specific challenge mirrors the lives of women today. How do you balance all of it? It’s an ongoing challenge for all of us. We’re out to embrace a new space for apparel design with the “crossover” clothing.
O: Do you care about what you wear?
T: Of course! First and foremost I need to feel comfortable in what I wear. Secondly, I’d like to feel like I look good. I like to have a nice set of basics to choose from and add a bit of current trend or personality here and there. Overall I’m pretty conservative when it comes to dress.
O: If your house was burning down, and you could only keep one thing in your closet, what would you keep?
T: My Erebelle cargo pants with the Red Sun painting.
O: What clothes have you worn that you’re now ashamed of?
T: Anything and everything covered in “splatter paint!”
O: Anything else?
T: Success is being resourceful in unconventional ways.