One of the more productive things I have done while self quarantined over the past several weeks, is to gradually purge the clothing that I am no longer wearing and hopefully donate it to a women’s shelter in the future. I have what I refer to as the five year rule, it basically means if I haven’t worn it within five years I donate it.
I guess it was fate because the timing was perfect when I discovered Blue Platypus one day while browsing the internet looking to update in my wardrobe after a long day of doing some well over due spring cleaning.
What I found was a company that specializes in creating unique versatile designs that can be dressed up or down with the right accessories. Blue Platypus clothing line is made from super comfortable easy to maintain fabrics that wear and hold up well, but what really makes this company special in its own right is the heart and generosity of the owners behind the brand.
Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Heidi who is half of the husband and wife duo who founded Blue Platypus.
What inspired your company?
I actually was initially pre-med and then had a quarter-life crisis and moved to Los Angeles to attend Otis College of Art & Design and major in fashion design. Strangely enough, I had absolutely no interest in designing t-shirts at the time. After graduation, we decided to start a small t-shirt line. We used American Apparel blanks for the first couple styles, but then people wanted larger sizes so we started producing our own blanks, and having them all custom sewn, dyed and screen printed in the Los Angeles area where we lived until a few years ago.
Previous to launching your company did you have any experience in design?
I got a Bachelor of Arts degree from Otis and did an internship for Authentic Fitness in Commerce (I was only a lowly intern mainly cutting lycra swatches for Anne Cole swim)! Not very glamorous, but after seeing what large company design was like, I really enjoyed starting my own line, having creative control and being my own boss.
What inspired you to name your company Blue Platypus?
We love the Platypus because it is a wonder of evolution with a truly unique set of odd characteristics. We chose blue because blue is the color that costume designers use on characters they want us to like. Also it looks good on everybody.
What, if any challenges have you faced since launching your company?
Well, the economy definitely affects small stores and businesses quite a bit. Also good sales reps are very hard to find. US manufacturing is also really expensive so margins have always been less than expected. Quality is almost never what it seems- we have stuck with good contractors for a very long time after seeing what else is out there. Do not expect what you don’t inspect is the best advice my father ever gave me.
What does sustainable fashion mean to you?
For me I think it’s having a trustworthy supply chain, thinking outside the box, and creating things that last a long time. I think Patagonia is the epitome of sustainability. They stand behind their products and they’re committed to making clothing that lasts, as are we. We have very high quality standards and we have used a lot of modal which is sustainable.
What do you feel are some of the biggest misconceptions about sustainable fashion?
That organic cotton is the only sustainable thing about fashion. Also, that fair trade is more sustainable than Made in USA. In my mind they’re both awesome but fair trade somehow gets romanticized. I have a personal relationship with ALL my suppliers and call many of them friends. They are loyal and hardworking and understand how to make long-lasting garments. If something is made poorly or with low quality materials it’s not sustainable because it will need replacing asap. What’s the point of that?
You have some really unique designs, what inspires them?
First and foremost, my love of the past. I love vintage furniture, art, home decor, etc. My husband and I met swing dancing and I love taking elements from different eras (especially the 60s & 70s). Nature, animals and fairy tales are 3 of our other main inspirations.
How has vintage fashion influenced your clothing line?
We have taken color inspiration, print inspiration from times past and I feel like our core customers totally get it without needing it explained to them. We have rarely produced things with words, instead letting graphic images speak for themselves.
Are there any stories behind your designs?
Well, our Dandylion floral designs started one day when I was sketching flowers and decided to mix an allium with an Afro-toting disco girl. Also our Alice and Betty designs were inspired by Alice in Wonderland. We took the girls and made them do things like sports, apple picking, farming, birdwatching etc. We tried to take an adorable vintage silhouette girl, in many cases with adorable elements in her skirt, and create new activities for them to do. There are so many designs, and some came from great stories, and some were created in 30 minutes at 3 am. It’s weird how the creative process works for me personally.
How does your clothing line reflect your own style?
I am eclectic, and I love mixing eras, colors, prints, etc. I don’t think a person needs to commit to the same type of look day in and day out- I love experimenting, and throwing on new accessories and shoes with our versatile clothing. It’s easy to layer, dress up and dress down, which I think makes so much sense i this modern world.
What are your best sellers?
Do you have a favorite t-shirt that you have created?
Wow, there are so many! Ummm, maybe the bicycle girl on a bright orange tulip sleeve. We sold it to modcloth many moons ago and I was so excited to see it reordered and I remember when we had 999 likes! It was a real milestone (since our site didn’t have that kind of exposure by any means)
What should we look forward to in the future?
More textile design, more designs unique to our website, limited wholesale to select people such as Modern Millie in Salem MA and The Good Shop in Germanstown WV. It seems like the perfect time to scale back on wholesale and focus on the website and our Spoonflower shop. I am not sure what will happen in the near future, but I hope it’s exciting and brings joy to people. It’ll definitely be colorful!
Courtesy Images: Blue Platypus