During the second week of Art Ready, the students headed to the main headquarters of fashion designer Tara St. James in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Before starting her Study clothing line, Tara worked with various different companies. Then, in 2009 Tara decided to branch out and start her own company. She decided to name the company “Study” because of her interest in expanding her craft every new fashion season, learning about different textures and techniques in the fashion world. St. James does something called sustainable design, which means she designs clothing with reusable materials, and tries to decrease the harm of her clothing production on the environment.
Tara spoke to the students about the importance of having something in which to record daily observations, because for an artist, inspiration comes from every place imaginable. “Actually, this may seem a little weird but my biggest inspiration is the subway,” says Tara.
A definite highlight of visiting the designer was when she showed us her unique silkworm cocoon skirt made with a fashion coop in Madagascar. She admitted that the skirt is actually held together by the worm’s spit, and that there is no chemical treatment in it. The students found that Tara has a lot of other unique techniques, such as incorporating poetry hidden within her clothing. She travels globally to find new inspiration, and Tara also believes in sharing her talents with interns in her “Study Hall” program. In this unique program, the Study college-aged interns develop, produce, and sell their own sustainable mini-collections. Tara is also a philanthropist; she works works with the Uniform Project, using sustainable design to raise money for underprivileged children.
The students who intern with Tara in the spring will have the special opportunity to help Tara develop new types of fabric, and also experience other aspects of the field.
My fellow students had a lot of good things to say about Tara:
“Her work really empowered me.”
“Every one of her pieces had such great texture and it was pleasing to look at something different. It was obvious that she loved doing her work and she was passionate about it.”
“I’m impressed that she does her fashion in a way that doesn’t harm the environment, but instead uses things that would otherwise go to waste. I think she takes creativity to a new level, and succeeds at it.”
Post by Dayalin Suriel, 2011-2012 Art Ready student and Exploring the Arts high school intern