New Designer / Tessa Matthias

2 years ago by


Erik Melvin

There are so many new designers emerging at Fashion Week every season, it might be hard to keep up. We thought it might be nice to introduce you to a few of the brands we’ve either just discovered or have been tracking for a few seasons that perhaps you might have missed!

Tessa Matthias comes from California, an easy-going spirit with purposeful energy. It’s no surprise her first collection, Fall 2016, was a fun mix of silhouettes that feel both modern and uniformly distinct. Poised floral suits, blazers that lace up the back, and a color palette of dusty oranges and moody cocoas – there’s a warm feeling in the clothing, pieces you can see easily living in your wardrobe.

Tessa Matthias garance dore photo

Tessa Matthias Garance Dore photo

Tessa Matthias Garance Dore photo

How has designing for big companies, like Theory, helped sculpt the way you went about creating your own label?
Working in an established corporate environment was thrilling for me in so many ways. I learned so much about myself and what makes a good communicator, as well as the layers of creativity that go into business. When I was studying fashion at Parsons, I didn’t understand how political the industry that I was stepping into was, but I enjoyed navigating the ins and outs of New York fashion in the contemporary market. I found that I was quite good at it, but also incredibly naive at the same time – and sometimes naivity is what gives you the courage to get what you want. What I have always wanted is my own label and now I feel confident enough to build it, using everything that I have learned in the past 11 years living in New York.

Could you tell us about a few of your other sources of inspiration?
My ‘muse’ has always been this ideal woman that exists in the back of my creative headspace – wild, strong and smart. I know that she was formed by my mother, as well as my three sisters, including Natalie. I grew up surrounded by women…my family keeps producing girls too, generation after generation..just lots of women. I have very specific memories of being at my grandmother’s house on the weekends, and getting lost in the different rooms in her house. I would always find myself in her walk-in closet, trying on shoes hats and gloves. She had so many tweed jackets and some nice Pucci dresses too. Her big collection was hats though. Her name was Nancy, and she had her hair done every single friday. I guess she was my muse.

Several of the fabrics you choose are deadstock, so are limited in availability but at the same time sort of creates an exclusiveness. Is sustainability an important part of how you see the collection moving forward?
I love vintage fabrics. I just don’t think things are made the same way anymore, and I have an affinity for detail. That being said, yes I do love the idea of sustainability, but it is not my focus at the moment. I am interested in sustainability on a larger scale, and I would like to build that into my business as I grow. I care a lot about how things are made, who is making them, and how that affects our environment. As for the Fall 2016 debut collection – I was honestly just drawn to the sense of nostalgia and grace that I felt from the old fabrics that I chose to use. Thankfully, I had enough to cut for production.

Tessa Matthias Garance Dore photo

How has the process of going from behind the scenes at a corporate company to venturing out on your own as an emerging designer been? What has surprised you the most?
I feel incredibly vulnerable emerging as a designer in this industry. Although, I don’t find that to be a bad thing at all. I would not feel fulfilled or myself if I did not explore this side of me and my ideas. I think that being vulnerable can mean very exciting things.

When did you first know you had an interest in fashion?
My first word was shoe.

I made my first piece of clothing when I was 9 years old. It was a mini skirt with an all-over palm tree and boat print, and then a layer of sheer chiffon over top. I was obsessed with the sewing machine. In high school all my friends would come to my house to get dressed before the parties, and I would cut up my mother’s bed sheets and pillow cases and make us halter tops and strapless dresses.
I didn’t want to do anything but get dressed.

Growing up in California, and recently re-locating back there, do you feel the laid-back west coast lifestyle influenced your concept ?
I find that most women’s reactions to my first collection is that it looks either very European, or very New York. I started my business in New York, and moved to LA a few months later. Now I am constantly back and forth for work.

What strikes me about my brand’s identity, is that it is built on a concept of the ‘endless vacation’. My father is from Germany, and my mother from Australia, and I very much identify with that fact. Their flare for dressing and looking like they are constantly in the south of France has resonated with me – and I of course think California accentuates that.

Describe your collection in three words.
Strong, Elegant, and Playful.

Tessa Matthias garance dore photo

Tessa Matthias garance dore photo

New Designer / Tessa Matthias


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