Text and photos by Rand Niederhoffer
Samantha Pleet’s light-filled studio is adorned with hanging ferns, old art history books, and a small terraced balcony that overlooks a non-descript block on West 37th street. The space was offered to Pleet in a sweetheart deal with her manufacturers, who keep offices just a few floors below - “They enticed us, out of Brooklyn, with all these windows,” Pleet says grinning. The move is just the latest evolution in Pleet’s seven-year design career.
Pleet graduated from Pratt in ’05 (along with fellow design industry veterans Ariana Bohling and boutique owners Alec Wright and Pam-Baker Miller of Frances May); she began designing her eponymous label shortly thereafter. A part-time sales job at TG170 gave her access to first-hand customer feedback and the economic means to stay afloat while she focused on honing her craft. “We got some really good write-ups in Daily Candy and Nylon and it grew organically from there,” Pleet says of her line’s trajectory, “but it’s taken me a long time to get to where I am now. You really only learn by doing.”
Pleet’s collections are typically inspired by different far-flung travel locales that are chronicled on her Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram. The SS13 collection, titled ‘The Sands of Time’ is based upon a trip to the deserts of Morocco: a sandstone pyramid’s trapezoidal geometry is transposed onto a cotton maxi dress, a pair of culottes in khaki suggest 19th-century adventure attire, and a self-designed, digitally enhanced, compass print is carried throughout the line.
Pleet has carved out a niche for herself within the greater fashion industry, supplying her devotees with pieces that are both unique and well-made. “I want my customer to walk into the center of the room and for people to stop and stare,” says Pleet. “I feel like people need more magic in their life.”
I spoke to the designer to get an insight into the world of Samantha Pleet:
What would you do if you weren’t a designer?
I would be an artist.
What’s your best kept Brooklyn secret?
The little old school markets you can find like Salvino’s Quality Pasta, they also have the most amazing Salami.
What other designers do you admire?
Designers that have their own unique way of working and looking at the world.
Who would be your ideal customer?
Someone who wants to wear their dreams.
What’s the best thing about starting up your own label?
It’s amazing to have the opportunity to turn your ideas into reality, and then send them off into the world.
What’s the hardest thing?
To separate your personal life with work, its one and the same.
What’s your favorite piece from the collection and why?
The tabernacle dress, I feel the design uses the fabric in more dimensions than I have done before, it transcends being just a cut and sew dress.