Samantha Pleet is not your average New York girl.

Instead of living in the glitzy borough of Manhattan, Pleet resides in Brooklyn, where the DIY-inspired lifestyle and aesthetic rules the roost. In vein with the kitschy DIY ethos of Brooklyn, Pleet features jeans with heart-shaped pockets, candle print shirt dresses, embroidered jumpsuits and faux fur coats. If Little Edie Bouvier is still alive, she will smile at the wallpaper-style floral turtleneck bodysuits.

Although some might dismiss Pleet's designs for being too trendy, they are not for the trend-conscious. In fact, Pleet is making her clothes for the girls who don't follow trends.

We chat about sustainability, fairy tales and the future of fashion.

Mountain View

Unlike the majority of fashion designers in NYC, you are one of the few who happen to produce your entire line locally. Not to mention, I saw that you have buttons sourced out of coconuts and fabrics that are made out recycled microfiber! When you first started your line, what obstacles have you encountered and how did you manage to overcome the difficulties of producing your items locally and sustainably?

We used to produce our clothing locally, but we moved production to a small, family run company in Mumbai, India that has offices here in NYC. We're so lucky to work with a fair trade company that works closely with us to produce our custom prints and fabrics. It's nice because though production happens in India, we've had the chance to visit the factory multiple times over the past few years to meet the craftsman working on our garments and to explore the country in the process!

We are so inspired and proud of the artistry that goes into our clothing and it's been so inspiring to travel there and work with masters in the field​. ​Sustainability will always be important to our brand, but unfortunately, NYC's Garment D​istrict is shrinking fast and has started to fill up with bigger labels that push out smaller lines like ours.

​We support ​when we can, sourcing fabrics and trimmings​ ​from​ local stores and using a​ sample room based in the area​.

You once mentioned in an interview that you cater your line to the "working girl who has a lot of projects going on." How do you relate yourself to the "working girl" and who is she inspired by?

I view that as someone like me, I like to take on a lot at once and do not have time to worry too much about what I am wearing. I need clothes to be comfortable and reflect my creativity.

What I like about your clothes is that you are willing to put in experimental and unconventional details. For instance, you made sweaters with twisted knots underneath the bust in your fall 2016 collection and swimsuits and dresses with a cutout of a window for your spring 2016 collection. How did this idea start and when did you realize that this would be a signature element in your collections?

Thankfully, my design sensibility resonates with what I think a lot of girls are looking for: clothing with special details that make you feel mystical, whether you're in a studio or office or onstage performing. I like to dress girls who are creative and have a strong sense of their own identity because they reflect the pieces that they're wearing and bring a life to the clothing.

I work hard and can design basically whatever I want, so I do lots of experimenting until I get that excited pins and needles feeling when I stumble onto an idea I love. I start with images I feel are inspiring from films or artwork or fairy tales and the story develops into its own narrative. I do all my patterns and muslins at my studio to create unique ideas and make sure that the fits are perfect, meaning that sometimes I have to make the sample three or four times to get it right!

For each collection, there always seems to be a concept or a theme that guides the entire aesthetic and that goes down all the way to the names of the clothes. As seen in your Resort 2017 collection, you are clearly inspired by Rapunzel.

​I like to start by thinking: "​How will this theme be a reflection of myself and the brand​?" I come up with details that are a subtle nod to whatever idea is inspiring that season. For Resort 17, I have castle-like details, braid embroidery and other storybook references that are drawn from the inspiration. But, I don't overdo it. I try to think of ways to incorporate elements that make you smile.

To continue, I noticed that certain prints and/or patterns tend to carry a motif that connects itself to the theme. For instance, your designs were stamped with candles and windows, which happened to the dominant feature on your fall and spring collections. What did those motifs mean to you and how did they end up being the main feature on your collections?

​For the last few seasons we have been collaborating with painter Jenna Gribbon on our prints and she has been creating these motifs based on our inspirations. I was drawn to her work because it complements our aesthetic with her magical surreal sensibility.

You started your label in 2006 and back then, there wasn't the need to have social media to boost your brand's profile. On top of that, young designers like yourself had to either rely on the support from large institutions like Vogue (with the CFDA) and/or a fashion school like Parsons (or in your case, Pratt) to establish their brand. Now that we have more resources, do you think that social media has improved the chances to break into the fashion industry? If so, where do you think we can grow from there?

​I think social media has been an amazing way for designers to find their audience without relying on the establishment. Most cannot afford to hire an expensive PR firm to get their name out there, so it is opening doors for creative people in a new way. It now happens so much more organically for unique work to surface on Instagram because people are interested in it and then follow the designer. There is no way to know what the future will hold, but instead of the fashion establishment we have to hope that apps like Instagram will continue to let independent and smaller designers to gain success.


You can visit Samantha Pleet by heading here.