New York City: a common theme being that if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. There is a lot of truth in this statement and Caroline Fuss is a classic exemplar.
Caroline is a woman and designer I personally admire most for many reasons—not only is every single piece in her collection flawless and I would wear them literally anywhere, but also because her line, Harare NY, is sustainable, supports women and it truly one of a kind—so eclectic. (AKA she is the ultimate #girlboss). Fuss is extremely hands-on with every single aspect of her company and truly cares about our environment and doing good for the world.
Upon completion of her internship at Proenza Schouler, Fuss visited Guatemala for her first time in 2011. She fell in love with the detailed and intricate weavings in the village markets, which inspired her to create a sustainable fashion line that would utilize their fabrics. She works one-on-one with the weavers in Guatemala, even lives with them on her frequent trips there, and together they create one of a kind, stunning fabrics. Once the fabrics are created, the garments are sewn or knitted in New York or Los Angeles.
Read our interview to get to know a little bit more about this beautiful soul and hard working genius.
Amy: Tell us a little bit about your background in design and your backstory. How did you get started?
Caroline: Born and raised in a small town in rural Australia, I moved to Sydney when I was 18 to study at the prestigious East Sydney Technical College. I graduated 3 years later and was selected to show my collection at Australian Fashion Week. I then moved to New York to pursue my dream of living in New York and interning at Proenza Schouler. I guess it’s kind of been a natural progression since that point, meeting people, adjusting to the city and edging closer to closer to my end goal which was always to have my own label.
Where do you seek inspiration for your collections?
Everywhere! But more often than not from art and tribes of people. I usually have one area of the world that I find particularly interesting, and when you cross reference that with modern culture, art and just day-to-day sightings it makes for a really eclectic and interesting body of work to pull from.
Do you have any muses you go to for inspiration?
Hmmm, you know not so much. I will usually be that person that stalks a stylish/interesting woman for a few blocks casually snapping her outfit as she whisks by. NY is pretty unique in the sense that people really have such diverse style here, so I find that you can always find a fleeting muse if you will, and as a designer you then have the ability to selfishly make them whoever you want them to be in your mind.
When you are designing what is some of the music that you zone out to?
Oh goodness, it depends on the collection. This season I’ve been listening to a ton of Ben Harper and Bob Marley, not too sure why, but also songs in other languages. Arabic is good background music. But then I will just tear apart a Kate Bush record all day and blast Lana Del Ray, so basically everything, just whatever I wake up feeling. For sure though music is the first and last piece of electronics to be switched on each day in my life.
What advice would you give to aspiring designers?
Hang in there, I mean actually that’s the advice I give myself each morning too. It is hard, way harder than what you first think, but ultimately it’s very rewarding, so its really just believe in your vision and never give up – much easier said than done.
What type of women do you see wearing your pieces?
The Harare girl is an earth creature at heart. She may work in a more corporate professional job now she’s older but she was definitely the child playing ring-around-the-rosie in the grass wearing a daisy chain around her head as a child. She relishes adventure and her most prized possessions are not her designer shoes but rather strange little trinkets she has bought from marketplaces while traveling the world. If she were a celebrity perhaps she would be Sienna Miller or Kate Hudson. She is fun, and someone everyone loves to be around because she doesn’t take herself too seriously, however she always has this incredible way of looking effortlessly stunning after just walking off the beach and throwing on a dress. She is cool, collected and a woman of the world.
Tell us about your sourcing materials in other countries and women who are
employed by you.
Right now Harare works exclusively out of Guatemala for its textiles. In a mission to empower artisan groups and also revive dying art forms, Harare works one-on-one with artisans, most of who are female. It’s a very special relationship and one that really is the very the DNA of the brand. The textiles are created and then shipped to New York where they are manufactured locally into garments.
Favorite coffee spot in NYC?
La Colombe in Soho, always very good people watching.
Favorite place to travel?
Wherever I am next on a plane to.
Favorite thing about NYC?
You truly never really know where your day will take you if you learn to just go with the flow and be present.
Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, 1993.
The Magic Faraway Tree.
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)—ee. Cummings
You can purchase her pieces at Intermix here.
Photos Courtesy of Harare NY