Slow and Steady with SVILU

PHOTOS BY BRIDGET BADORE FOR THE ASSEMBLIST

PHOTOS BY BRIDGET BADORE FOR THE ASSEMBLIST

"We are firm believers that what comes easy doesn’t last long and what lasts long doesn’t come easy." designers Britt Cosgrove and Marina Polo expressed in our interview below, "It’s important to lay the foundation for a business- doing things small and doing them right." Both Britt and Marina are passionate advocates for mindfully made clothing, and their celebrated brand SVILU better speaks to the BIG benefits that can come when embracing a "slow and steady" pace.

Many designers we've spoken with in the contemporary fashion community naturally lean towards adopting responsible production practices - though for SVILU this approach has always been innate. Their penchant for classic and durable style laid the foundation for the inclusion of sustainable materials in their design process. We found this to be an admirable trait, as both Britt and Marina identify their customer as being a modern woman whose lifestyle demands the need for movement and adaptability - though this doesn't mean she wants to compromise quality. In fact, they shared these important sentiments below, "People care about and demand great design and the good news is that it is now more accessible than it ever has been."

Our recent visit with the duo proved this to be true. We got to see their latest collection (which included beautifully detailed textures, muted color palettes and a variety of timeless silhouettes) and hear more about Britt and Marina's day-to-day as a two-woman show. We also chatted about sustainability's increasingly present role in the contemporary market, how they plan to fulfill professional resolutions, and what they're assembling daily for the year ahead. Check out the feature below and head over to The Style Line for an exclusive second part of this interview and more.

Thanks for having us over to the studio! Please introduce yourselves.

We are Britt and Marina – aka the founders of SVILU. West side, downtown New Yorkers who spend a whole lot of time together. We love food but hate the label foodie and love dogs but don’t have any.

Talk to us about being part of the Brand Assembly community. What role do people play for SVILU as a brand?

Hillary has a unique eye and a great sense of personal style so we are incredibly flattered to be in great company in Brand Assembly’s roster.

We have found a community in the microcosm that is the garment district. From the fabric agents, trim purveyors, graders, factories and even the local coffee shop that caffeinates us daily- we basically assemble our collection in these four square blocks. The energy and people of this neighborhood make SVILU what it is. 

We really take pride in making our work (and more specifically fashion) fun! With this in mind how do you hope to convey a sense of fun in SVILU, without compromising the brand's ethical values and vice-versa?

We have the best jobs in the world. We spend our days looking at beautiful sustainable fabrics from recycled plastic bottle taffetas to spice-hued organic cotton voiles, building a collection and telling a new story each season. 

It seems that there are so many moving parts to SVILU in terms of both design and business. Do you have any professional resolutions or things you’d like to improve upon more this season?

Our resolution is to take more time off! We constantly strive to achieve a better work-life balance and as part of this we will both be taking two weeks off this summer to travel, recharge and get inspired- Britt will be headed to Russia and Marina to Provence. 

All emerging designers are faced with growing pains. As SVILU grows what do you anticipate you’ll need to focus on that might not be relevant at this stage in your business?

When we launched SVILU there was an insurmountable laundry list of less than glamorous tasks to get the brand up and running: from registering the company to setting up Quickbooks and negotiating our studio lease. Unpleasant- but we did it, in addition to a million other things we never thought we’d have to do as designers. 

At this stage the business is growing organically, in the future we would like to expand our offerings and grow into different categories when the time is right. 

As a two-woman show what advice or insight can you offer to budding emerging designers who are looking to carve out a unique point of view in the contemporary scene? 

We are firm believers that what comes easy doesn’t last long and what lasts long doesn’t come easy. It’s important to lay the foundation for a business- doing things small and doing them right. 

Based on your experiences so far, how do you hope to see the contemporary market evolve?

People care about and demand great design and the good news is that it is now more accessible than it ever has been. Thanks to platforms like Brand Assembly, designers are now given an opportunity to take their goods to market and connect with their audience.

What do you assemble daily? 

A staple for us has been the many iterations of the button-down shirt. It just works every season. Whether dressed up in printed silk, or down in organic cotton poplin it’s timeless. With a spread or band collar, as a popover or dropped into a dress there is an inherent ease and classic cool in this style.