H A D J I O | As a native and current San Franciscan, exploring the fashion scene throughout the years has often been a mixed bag of emotions. Many times over, SF has been dubbed the “flip flop and puffy vest capital of America”, and let’s face it – in a place where hills are steep, weather is sporadic, and nature is abundant, function over form really does make the most sense for us. But, with the steady advancement of technology and opportunity, a number of standout fashion designers and curators have flocked to the Bay Area to prove that form and function can truly co-exist in the laid-back, Northern California sun.
Take for instance, Larissa Hadjio. A relatively new transplant by way of London, Larissa began making her mark in the fashion world in 2010 with her playful, sculptural accessories line. Holding a degree in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins, Larissa has a sharp eye for audacious design paired with unexpected functionality. She recently expanded her expertise into the Ready-To-Wear sector, releasing a line of bright and bold unisex boilersuits, which she dubs, “Everywear for everywhere”.
I teamed up with Larissa to shoot a few pieces from her new collection, and talk a little bit about herself and the influences behind her line.
[ Jen Szeto ] Hi Larissa, it’s been so wonderful connecting with you here in San Francisco. I’d love to know – where did you grow up and how did you get your start as a designer?
[ Larissa Hadjio ] I grew up in Southern Germany, close to the Alps. I think of myself as a mountain person, even though I've always lived in the city. In my teens, I moved to the UK – first to boarding school, then after a detour, to Latin America. Then I came back to London to attend Central Saint Martins.
Studying at CSM was a very impactful time. I really learnt how to explore and focus my own original view on the world, and there was endless inspiration everywhere. After art school, I wanted to create something that could live beyond a gallery, so I started an accessory label creating wearable sculptures.
Whilst a lot of friends went on to explore careers in different countries, I made London my home for a long period of time. The city has been an amazing friend and a tough colleague. It pushes you to stand your ground for what you want.
Now it's time for new challenges, my ready to wear line, a new home at the beach – I am embracing Californian life. Fully.
[ JS ] I love that you’re constantly pushing yourself and taking on new challenges, I can relate to that very well.
Speaking of – It was so fun collaborating with you on this photo shoot together, thank you for allowing me to be a part of it! I think we worked well together coming up with concepts on the fly and shooting what felt most organic to both the collection and myself. And who doesn’t love getting dirty and hopping a fence for a photo every once in a while?!
[ LH ] Definitely. I think the shoot captured the fun mood we were in, and jumping over fences is always a good thing.
[ JS ] You have created a standout namesake accessories line that is equal parts bold, unique, and curious. What made you decide to start a ready-to-wear collection?
[ LH ] I have been designing one-off pieces for fashion week for quite a while. Enough people stopped me in the street to find out where they were from, that it just made sense to move into ready-to-wear.
[ JS ] What is the meaning behind your tagline, “Aesthetic Research”?
[ LH ] All of the most interesting art, objects and experiences comes from people pushing their aesthetics into new directions. When you stop reading about what everyone else is doing, and do your own research and experimentation, that's when you will create something fresh that speaks for you.
As a bigger vision, we’re going to be working with some really amazing, creative talent to extend the field of research.
[ JS ] Your boilersuits are labeled Unisex, which I love. What type of person are you designing for?
[ LH ] If you're someone who appreciates structural simplicity, but still want a fun and experimental edge to what you wear, you're going to like the label.
We're not designing in terms of collections, but more creating single garments that can become a uniform for life, living in all environments from work to weekend.
[ JS ] I love the fabric that you use for your colorful boilersuits. How did you find it?
[ LH ] I was on a trip in New Zealand and found an amazing tapestry store. I ended up bringing a lot of fabric back to London with me, which lay dormant in my studio for some time before I used it for a boilersuit for myself.
The first day I wore it out I bumped into Elle editor Donna Wallace. She asked me who had made my outfit; when I told here It was one of my mine she aid you have to sell these. That kind of feedback is hard to ignore!
[ JS ] Since moving to San Francisco about a year ago – What are some of your favorite and least favorite aspects of living here?
[ LH ] Despite its smaller size, San Francisco is very cosmopolitan. I love the nature that surrounds it, and the sea lion cubs at Point Reyes get my undivided attention.
But one can also not ignore that the city has huge housing problems, and asymmetric wealth. I guess coming from London these things are already very familiar.
[ JS ] Has living in SF affected the way you design (as opposed to designing in London)?
[ LH ] London has an untamed creative wildness to it that you don't see in many places, and I think that spirit remains with the label no matter where we are resting our suitcases.
San Francisco has had a different impact on the label. The city has a history of people radically changing culture, and entire industries; it has us thinking a lot more about the scale we are interested in working at.
We're seeing exciting companies like Allbirds and Everlane taking fresh approaches to traditional models and we're a more pragmatic and almost industrial process has slowly filtered into my design thinking.
[ JS ] OK, now for some fun, rapid-fire questions…
Coffee or tea?
[ LH ] How many coffees is too many coffees?
[ LH ] Thai street food is unbeatable, especially when eaten on the streets of Thailand.
Cats or dogs?
[ LH ] Both are great, but our cat has a strict 'no dogs' policy.
Walk, bike, or drive?
[ LH ] Anything with wheels!
[ LH ] It's a hot contest between a warm red spice, mint green or mustard gold.
Favorite item in your closet?
[ LH ] I pledge allegiance to the Boilersuit!
Favorite place in the world?
[ LH ] Wherever my friends are. Especially when they're hanging by the beach
Best way to relax?
[ LH ] #chillwildlife is my secret pleasure.