“Inspired by Women” – A conversation with LA designer Jennifer Wagner
After Jennifer Wagner became a mom, she wanted a “uniform” of simple yet elegant clothing that was sustainably-made. She couldn’t find what she wanted so she created it herself.
Une Forme [ew(n), form] is a capsule collection whose look is inspired by “culture and landscapes from the Sonoran Deserts to the beaches of Tel Aviv, (from) coastal Mediterranean (to) the streets of Barcelona. (The collection) embodies simplicity, longevity, comfort, elegance, and sustainability for everyday living. The capsules are short run productions to reduce waste and the pieces are made from linen, one of the earth’s most sustainable fabrics that also has been shown to stimulate blood flow and promote relaxation.”
Jennifer and I talked about her entrepreneurial journey and her classic collection that has been quickly embraced by travel writers and women on the West Coast.
What inspired you to start a clothing line?
I’m an interior designer by trade, but I’ve always expressed myself through fashion, and have been sewing my own clothes since I was a child. I had learned from my mother, who had learned from hers. After I had my son, I felt the need for simple yet elegant clothes that all coordinated, and that I could not only live in, but also — for my son’s future, feel good about. So I began drawing my favorite pieces from my closet then worked with a seamstress to design my first patterns and make them my own. We continued to innovate and edit, testing the fabrics, patterns, and colors, and after several months, my first collection was born.
Tell me about the name une forme.
My love for sewing came naturally from my maternal side of my family who is of French descent. Also the silhouettes were derived from classic French pieces, so something in french seemed appropriate. “One shape” was a term that defined the concept of the collection, so translated, “une forme” was born. Also, oddly enough, “uniform” is often what comes to mind when people see the name, which is essentially what the collection is — just more elegant.
How do you pick the names of your pieces?[Laughs] I googled the top 10 names of 2019 — obviously they were well liked! Of course it took some time to match the name to the piece, but I felt that the pieces needed personality and by naming them, I instantly gave them life.
Describe your ideal shopper with 3 adjectives?
Eco-conscious, modern, and intentional.
What is the hardest part of being an entrepreneur?
The marketing aspect – growing an audience when there are many different brands. Also the funding. I am self-funded and it is hard to stretch a limited budget across all of the business needs.
What are your goals for the next 5 years?
I’m in the middle of defining that, and at this point, have only been able to look a year ahead at a time. I am in the process of designing additions to the capsule, along with streamlining the process of coloration for future productions. I would like my collection to live in more boutique shops, whether brick-and-mortar or online — this is where I love to shop, because of their curation and attention to detail. I am interested in collaboration, and also growing the brand to include home goods and jewelry. I also look forward to having a team under me to grow Une Forme.
What advice would you give 20-year-old Jennifer?
I would tell her to slow down. I always felt like I was running out of time or that it was too late to change my mind. I would have taken more time to really understand who I am and what fulfills me. Although, maybe knowing this, is something that only comes with time.
What do you want people to know about sustainable fashion?
Fashion is the most wasteful industry in the world. Now that designers are much more invested in the well-being of our planet, there are many alternatives to fast fashion. Also, even though sustainable fashion is often a more expensive choice, the brands tend to be transparent, the clothes made ethically, and the fabrics are higher grade so they last longer. Sustainability is an investment.
What is your favorite weekend activity?
Brunch! My husband loves to cook and we spend several hours in the kitchen together, preparing then enjoying a delicious meal together. We put on one of our favorite playlists and oftentimes add in a mimosa or bloody mary. I appreciate the chance to slow down, relax and be together with our son.
What is the most popular item in your collection?
It changes with the season — but the Nora cape is an everyday go to, and the Emma dress, coined as the house dress, was big in mid-late summer. Now that I introduced the Signature Sets, and the Cannes set, which combines the Ava top and Sophia dress, is almost sold out!
What are you wearing now?
One of the oldest, most comfortable pieces I own — it’s an ivory dress made of modal. I wear a lot of whites and neutrals, and a lot of dresses. They are so easy! One choice and you’re done.
“We are women and women inspire us.”Jennifer Wagner, une forme
Stay tuned for details about a #shopgreenlist + une forme partnership!