On the Radar: The L.A.-Based Sustainable Brand That Counts Jenny Slate and Brie Larson as Fans
Day Space Night was "born out of our exhaustion with fast fashion," the designers say.
When Brie Larson isn't stealing the show on the red carpet in a glam gown by Chanel or a sophisticated suit from Alexander McQueen, the Oscar winner keeps it much more low-key in casual tees or patterned dresses. Most recently, she took to Instagram to share that she styled herself and her clothing of choice was a primrose-print dress from Day Space Night, a Los Angeles-based fashion brand that also counts Jenny Slate as a fan. (Slate even modeled for the label last year.)
Day Space Night was founded in November 2015 by designers Kris Chau and Samantha Margherita, who met while working at Free People in Philadelphia. After taking a quick look on the label's website and Instagram, it's easy to see why Larson and Slate dig their designs — the clothes are artsy and fun, yet still functional, from a rose-print kimono made from 100-percent silk ($288) to a white and navy moon circle-print wrap skirt ($188).
According to Margherita, the brand was "born out of our exhaustion with fast fashion and we wanted to do something that was sincere and authentic, but on a smaller scale." The design partners invested in a digital textile printer, making it possible for them to print their fabrics in house.
"We do really small runs of garments, so they're almost like art pieces," says Margherita. "Everything is done in the Arts District in Downtown L.A., so everything is made within a mile radius of our studio in Chinatown. Our goal is to make these high-quality, timeless garments that could last forever and that were made on a smaller, more sustainable scale."
This week, Chau and Margherita received L.A.'s Creative Economic Development Fund (CEDF) grant, funding that is awarded to select small creative enterprises. "We had to apply for this grant three times," emphasizes Chau.
Here, The Hollywood Reporter chatted with the creative duo about opening a design studio and store in Chinatown (937 Sun Mun Way, Los Angeles, 90012), creating one-of-a-kind sustainable clothes and having famous fans in Slate and Larson.
What led you both to make the move to L.A.?
Margherita: It was after my time at Free People was up; I imagined I would be a New Yorker, but then I was curious about the West Coast and I wasn't ready for my adventures to be over. L.A. seemed like a place where a lot of cool things were happening. I sort of see L.A. as the Wild, Wild West, where it's still not quite defined as a city and there's room for exploration and growth. I don't think Day Space Night could have even existed on the East Coast. It very much came to be because of the space L.A. allowed us to do it.
Chau: I ended up in L.A. because I was working for larger companies who moved me out here to the West Coast offices. Sam coincidentally was moving, so we moved around the same time, and we decided that the industry was just really wasteful and we also weren't seeing a product that was as thoughtful within a certain price range. L.A. offers a lot of resources and space to create something like this.
Why do you think Los Angeles is able to offer space to a brand like yours?
Margherita: I think people in L.A. want to support local makers and know their investing in something that's thoughtful and also goes along with their personal ethos in life. I think there are a lot of people here who are successful and have money to spend and want to spend it on something that they think is beautiful and timeless.
Chau: L.A. also is a really weird city, because of all the neighborhoods and how large it is, it's not like being in New York or San Francisco. It's kind of a goofy, colorful city, so people aren't so defensive in their dressing. We try to make our clothes utilitarian, but also we want to offer something fun, which kind of thrives in a place like L.A. Something about the colors, saturation, strangeness of this city really lends itself to our designs.
Tell us about your design process. How often do you launch a collection?
Margherita: We're still a pretty young brand, so that’s changing as we grow. We've been doing about four collections a year so far, but that might increase a little bit. My background is in textile design — I'm a print designer, so I design and develop all the prints, and Kris' background is more in silhouette design, so she designs and produces all the silhouettes, so that's our collaboration together. We work independently and then merge our processes together. All the fabrics get printed in-house. Because we do everything locally, everything is sort of "wear now" and season-less and we can produce in a quicker way than bigger companies do by trend and in-season. We react more immediately and emotionally about what we want to design.
Why was producing sustainable clothes an important part of your brand identity?
Chau: I worked in a lot of different factories, and everything has to be polybagged, for example. We don't polybag anything, mostly because we don't have the money or facilities to polybag everything. It's literally just me and Sam packing everything. Every garment gets shipped to a store polybagged, which someone has to take out and hang. That alone is crazy. There's so many plastic bags. It takes so much water to process anything — washing, printing. As a clothing designer, I would just see so much waste and so much wasted design, too, because everything's based on the calendar and trends.
Margherita: When you're producing prints or artwork, you usually have to hit a yardage minimum in a factory, which means you have to print hundreds of yards, forcing you to make X amount of dresses, and a lot of times you're forced to overproduce the amount you'll actually sell, so you always end up with deadstock or waste that you have to put on sale at some point. By taking print production into our own hands or completely removing ourselves from that process, we could make one-offs if we want to and grow more slowly and organically.
How did you come up with the name of the brand?
Margherita: Kris actually came up with the name. We were sort of stream-of-consciously writing words down that we liked together. We wanted the word "space" to be involved because we have a studio space that we activate and have events and pop-ups. "Day" and "Night" kind of came to be because our clothes transition from day to night. We also wanted something slightly awkward, too (laughs).
How did Jenny Slate and Brie Larson discover your clothes?
Margherita: We're really fortunate we have a lot of lovely friends in the film industry, and so we have friends that are friends with Brie and Jenny. I think anytime you're concepting a brand, you dream about who you'd want in your clothes. Jenny was on the top of the list of the both of us, so we just sent her a piece with no expectations of what might happen because as we know, these women get a lot of things in the mail, so we were very pleasantly surprised when she took to Instagram and posted on a picture of herself wearing it. She has been one of our No. 1 supporters since the moment we launched, so we feel so grateful. She's definitely helped us grow our base. Jenny's the coolest. We feel the same about Brie — she's an authentic girl talking about things she believes in.
You both host book swaps and art events at your studio — why did you want to make your space more than just where you design your clothes?
Chau: We originally had a warehouse studio space that acted as a showroom, and I think since we're both artists, we're used to having studios, so when we got this Chinatown storefront, I don't think we ever imagined we'd have a store this early in the game. Having a store is very strange for us. We almost feel like it needs to be more than a store, so we try really hard to have art shows and be supportive of our friends who maybe can't get into a gallery or they want a different type of gallery setting.
Margherita: I think of Day Space Night as a platform of community, so supporting other artists is just as important as the products we're trying to make.
This Q&A has been edited and condensed for clarity.