Atlas sat down with independent Brooklyn based fashion designer Samantha Pleet, a talented woman with a drive to create and inspire. Take a glance into Samantha’s world. Photographed by Louise Palmberg.
Samantha Pleet was born and raised in Philadelphia, before moving to Brooklyn to study at Pratt. She was always interested in the arts; from music, to theatre, and originally went to Pratt to paint. But soon after her enrollment, she made friends with some students in the fashion department and became drawn in. “I loved the projects they were working on. I love to work with my hands and make things–– I wanted to learn how to do patterns, and make clothes, and sew,” says Samantha, although she had a bit of a sewing background from making some clothing in high school. “This was a natural transition; I had some great professors and they were really inspiring. I ended up working with a few of them after when I was starting my line.”
Designing for ten years now, she fell into clothing design shortly after graduating. “It was back in 2006. The early 2000s were the worst fashion… it was a transitional time,” Samantha laughs, adding “I wanted to look like a vagabond that just got off a pirate ship into the city.” She says that the vintage things she was more interested in wearing at the time didn’t fit very well; she wanted to wear cute rompers and short dresses. One of her biggest influences? Harry Potter. “I wanted to be in magical Harry Potter world, not America.”
“I was working at a boutique in the lower east side, and they were a pioneer of the area, with really good indie designers. It was great to be a part of that and see that world and be involved.” Samantha also worked internships, including one at an avant garde fashion house. “At the time there really weren’t many indie designers, so it was much easier. It was fresh and exciting.” She began to make her own clothes and wore them in her day to day, and people would ask if they could sell them. Her brand’s growth, from there, was organic. “There wasn’t social media like there is today. You had to be very dependent on magazines picking up on you, and it was a totally different way of putting yourself out there.”
Samantha describes her inspiration to create as a strive for beautiful, smart, intelligent, feminine design. She is inspired by women artists around her. “Photographers and musicians and creative people that I’m around all the time–– so many friends who just create things with their hands. It’s just great to be around a lot of young entrepreneurs… just people who are passionate.”
Her consumer base seems to match her inspirations, noting that her customers “seem to be some very creative entrepreneurial women. I have customers who have their own bakeries, that write books–– they all seem to be very ambitious, and be feminist in a way where they’re doing awesome things and nothing is holding them back.” The goal of Samantha’s line is to inspire. “I want to inspire young women to feel they can do whatever they want. They can have a business, they can be creative, have a career, have a family, there are no rules.”
When asked what she’d like to see change in the fashion industry, Samantha says she’d like to see less fast fashion. “I want people to treasure their clothing, not just buy it because it’s trendy and throw it away. When I design my clothes, they’re made with love.” It is important to her that people recognize the value of a piece of clothing, adding that her grandmother saved a lot of treasured pieces for her. “Things always come back in style. It’s better to spend a little money and have something for a long time.”
Samantha’s advice for industry up-and-comers is simple: set yourself apart. “Don’t follow trends–– to really last, you need to define yourself.”