Greg Armas of Assembly on style, slow fashion and bicoastal retail

“I started finding that a lot of interesting academic psychic, explorer, and adventurous avatar-type of individuals seem to disappear,” Greg Armas says, describing his Spring/Summer 2016 ready-to-wear collection for Assembly. “The classic examples were Amelia Earhart and Maria Orsic.” We think both of those women would certainly approve of Assembly’s striking, utilitarian pieces. Brave of heart, mixed with a little intrigue, is a fitting mood for Greg, the founder and designer of Assembly. He was first a galleryist in Los Angeles before starting his first foray into retail, Scout, on Third Street in LA back in 2003. He made the move east to open Assembly New York in 2008, launched their namesake label in 2012, and this year, embraced the bicoastal lifestyle with a second location, Assembly Los Angeles.

This month we’re excited to be the exclusive retailer of three pieces from the SS16 collection. So we caught up with Greg to find out more about his approach to retail, his own personal style and the best place to get tacos in LA.

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ARE THE PRINCIPLES OF A RETAIL SPACE AND GALLERY SIMILAR FOR YOU AND YOUR APPROACH? We’ve always run the shops as galleries and built our relationships with clients and designers as such. This can be challenging, considering retail’s breakneck pace, so at times we opt for more of a slow fashion mindset.

Meet the Designer: Hackwith Design House

Designer Lisa Hackwith has been redefining the notion of minimalism since she started her namesake label in September 2013. Instead of seeing it as a streamlined aesthetic that favors simple silhouettes, a neutral palette and monochrome styling, she views minimalism as a kind of lifestyle where we mindfully select clothing that we will wear over and over again. Eschewing conventional approaches to retail and design, Lisa launched her brand by releasing a limited edition collection of two to four styles every Monday, with only 25 pieces per design. Her goal in this is to keep garment construction close to home, while maintaining a close eye on the quality of every piece. She currently lives in Minneapolis with her husband Dustin who works as the Brand Design Director for Hackwith Design House, and their adorable Rottweiler Samson. We’re huge fans (and, spoiler alert: have a special collab up our sleeve), so we couldn’t wait to sit down and talk shop.

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Meet the Designer: Nettie Kent

The first thing that will strike you when speaking to jewelry designer Nettie Kent is how she might just be the epitome of the word vivacious. Spend even more time with her, and you can’t help seeing the world through rosier glasses. An artist through and through, Nettie dipped her toe into a variety of different crafts – painting, sculpting and writing – before settling in and finding her calling with jewelry. She lives primarily in Brooklyn with her husband and fur babies, but also spends several months a year in her hometown of Martha’s Vineyard, a place that strongly influences her designs today. Using recycled metals and both semi-precious and precious stones, Nettie’s sculptural designs have gained her an avid following of fans, like us. We caught up with her to find out more about her foray into jewelry design, her bohemian childhood, and which fellow designer she likes to spend Sunday brunch with. Hint: We love this designer too!

Meet the Boutique: Lynn Louisa

Tucked away on a charming street in Georgetown, Lynn Louisa is kind of a goldmine in Washington, DC. Owner Gabby Klingman stocks the shelves with up-and-coming and sought-after lines like Rachel Comey, Ganni and Just Female. A seasoned veteran of the fashion industry, she opened up shop in 2014 after her she and her husband made the move from Seattle to the country’s capital. Gabby previously worked in a ton of varied roles in retail – from buying to wholesale – and wanted to put her experience and her passion to work in a boutique of her own. Her eye for new lines and cool-girl brands quickly built a loyal customer base, many of whom she now counts as close friends. We caught up with her to talk about starting a business, the evolving style of DC and the joys of being a homebody.

Meet the Boutique: Baby & Company

Located around the corner from Seattle’s bustling Pike Place Market, Baby & Company is still somewhat of a hidden gem. Originally opened in 1976 by Baby and Uri Burstyn, the boutique has long been known for its pioneering spirit in the city’s fashion community and has been a go-to destination in the city for elevated clothing and accessories. Flash-forward forty years later and what sets this boutique apart from the pack is its unwavering commitment to the slow-fashion movement. Jill Donnelly and her husband Wayne took over in 2012 and gave the Seattle boutique a modern facelift: think clean, minimalist lines, cool gallery walls and a European atelier vibe. Today they curate a cool collection keeping with her philosophy that quality and ethics are not optional, they are non-negotiable. We sat down with Jill to talk about the highs and lows of running a business, their philanthropic efforts and her personal approach to style.

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Meet the Designer: Wray Serna

Known for her eclectic prints and beautifully constructed, easy to wear pieces, Wray Serna has Brooklyn to thank for her creative inspiration. The designer lives there with her painter husband and the creative duo dream up the whimsical prints and patterns for each collection of her eponymous line, brought to life with vivid fabrics. Never forsaking comfort for style, it’s easy to throw on something from Wray and run out the door, looking put together without any effort at all.  Having only just launched her label during Spring/Summer 2015, Wray quickly garnered a fan-base and accolades from the likes of Vogue. It’s easy to see why. Wray’s comfy, quirky-cool classics are the kind of wardrobe staples that you will want to wear over and over. We know we do. We sat down with the talented designer to chat about inspiration, her design process and her love affair with travel and art.

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Meet the Designer: Dusen Dusen

There is no designer out there who creates prints quite like New York’s Dusen Dusen. Colorful, eccentric and unabashedly bold, the best way to accessorize one of their pieces is with a sh*t ton of confidence. Ellen Van Dusen, the Brooklyn babe behind the quirky brand, has had an obsession with creating prints since childhood and has been honing her craft ever since. Geometric shapes, bright colors, and patterns that resemble abstract paintings are juxtaposed with sleek, simple silhouettes. Beyond fabric, the prints from Dusen Dusen are works of art in their own right. Having launched the women’s wear line in 2010, Ellen has since expanded her repertoire by offering a line of home decor products such as pillows, blankets, bedding and towels that makes us want to completely redecorate. We sat down with the designer to talk about design, pattern play and her adorable Boston Terrier, Snips.

Meet the Designers: Leah and Rebecca Plante

Combining contemporary modernity with fluid shapes and fabrics inspired by nature, sister duo Rebecca and Leah Plante are designing for our urbanite dreams. Born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina – and now based in Austin and Brooklyn respectively – the Plante sisters launched their namesake line in 2013 and had us at hello. Whether it’s a swath of sage green silk, a sculptural silhouette or an oceanic inspired print, fusing the raw beauty of nature with urban style is their constant source of inspiration. With a new season just around the corner (and their artful wares in our Brooklyn Babes Sale), we couldn’t wait to hear about the process of designing Spring 2016, their take on personal style and the beauty of email.

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Meet the Designer: Lindsey Reif of REIFhaus

Walking that cool line that balances originality with approachability, Lindsey Reif designs for those defining moments in your wardrobe. You know the kind. The ones that can even make taking the bus to the dentist feel like a satisfying expression of your personal style. With a swimwear line newly launched and a fresh collection for Spring 2016 on its way, we sat down with the Portland-based designer to talk thrifting, sewing and studio rituals.

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WHEN DID YOU FIRST KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A DESIGNER? I don’t think there was an exact moment, but I do know it was always inside of me. As a child, I remember making dresses for my dolls out of tissue, then covering them in clear tape so I could take them off and the dolls could re-wear them. I got my start designing clothing for real people at 18 when I first moved to Portland. I’ve always been an avid thrifter, and I loved repurposing and redesigning pieces I would find at thrift shops. It taught me so much about garment construction and I was able to hone my sewing skills.

Meet the Boutique: Neighbour/Woman

“Precision of geometry” and “elegance of nature” are two phrases used by the up and coming, and much applauded, London-based fashion label 1205. It’s pretty fitting that Saager Dilawri would name the line’s designer Paula Gerbase as his favorite designer as they would be equally great ways to describe his two boutiques in Vancouver — Neighbour and Neighbour/Woman — not to mention his aesthetic point of view. The balance of easy and exact is even something he embodies himself and we love him for it. We sat down with Saager to find out more about his concise approach, his favorite neighbors and all the cool things he loves.

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WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT OWNING BOUTIQUES? I think the most intriguing thing about running a multi-brand store is bringing everything together. There are so many great designers out there and of all of them we have are narrowed down in selection to several, and then you need to narrow down your selection from each collection. It is interesting to play with this and become concise, while making everything work together.