Shaina Mote is a young designer, born and raised in Los Angeles. Her design and timeless pieces has been informed by fusing technical aspects from her background and creating modern, innovative and wearable basics. Shaina Mote’s collections are produced in Los Angeles due to the brand’s commitment to renewable materials and a thoughtful consciousness to the production process. We spoke to her about her inspiration and how she adds sustainability in her collections. Shaina Mote is new to almasanta this season and we hope you enjoy getting to know the designer behind one of our favorite brands.
Can you explain us a little bit about your background?
My background is in vintage buying, creative direction and pattern making. This background has illuminated my passion for designing pieces that are timeless and well made.
I first started designing while working as a buyer and vintage curator for a fashion company here in LA. I saw a lot of polyester fabrics and trend-based styles coming in and out of the shop and in and out of fashion, and it felt disposable and unsustainable.
I felt torn at the time because I’ve always loved fashion — how it relates to identity and has real power to change how we perceive ourselves and others. Out of this love for design and a desire to create pieces with lasting impact I decided to work on a collection of pieces that weren’t too loud, that were well constructed and thoughtfully designed with top-notch sustainable fabrics. So I took a pattern making apprenticeship, and then for my first collection I made each pattern by hand on the floor of my studio apartment in Highland Park in 2011.
Is it really possible to design for the future?
YES. For years I’ve been handling really beautiful high-end vintage like Jil Sander or pieces from the ‘40s,” she says. “When you turn something like that inside out and you see the care that’s put into the construction, it’s something that’s so rare these days. It’s my hope for my own designs to have lasting construction, and to still be relevant in 30 years.”
One of the components that makes the collections so unique are the materials you use. How do you source them?
The fabrics come mainly from Japan and Italy, and the sourcing process typically entails sifting through thousands of swatches of fabrics each season, looking for hand-feel, wearability, sustainable content and so on. Our jersey knits come from one of the last industrial knitters in LA, a family-run company that focuses on materials like bamboo, tencel and micro modal. Most of these types of knitters went out of business years back when the majority of this production went overseas to China in the eighties.
The lack of color and frilly details really define your creations. Why?
I tend to strip things down to a pure expression to give them a sense of timelessness. To allow for something that can be worn time and time again, year after year.
Why did you change from fast fashion to slow fashion?
I was working at a fast-fashion company that was producing trends in and out in what seemed like minutes. I had a direct line of sight into how things were actually produced, and I realized that this trend-based industry can create a lot of excess and a lot of waste. Now, I reject the cheap-labor model and we produce all our clothes in Los Angeles, with a small group of family-owned factories.
Do you have any studio essentials, things that make your work life calmer or more beautiful?
I’m guilty of having many! Fresh Lilies of the Valley, Ippodo Matcha Tea…. and I’ve recently been obsessed with a candle Gabriela Artigas makes with rose water and cedar called Early Morning. Good music can take things a long way too!